By Tara E. Leisure
Imagine a community ripe with artistic stimulation, an oasis of collaborative creativity for visual artists, poets and musicians to coexist in the throws of possibility.
Now imagine Lexington, KY, home to one of freshest movements in the local art landscape. Community Supported Art (CSA) is a local collaborative arts program based on the idea cultivated by agriculture groups to encourage the support and utilization of local seasonal farm goods. But instead of featuring the “cream of the crop” in produce, CSA features artwork.
Every season, shareholders are given a wooden crate that’s filled to the brim with nine original works of art, including paintings, drawings, writing samples, musical recordings, etc. created by participating local artists. This “crop” offers a tasting of the latest and greatest upcoming arts in Kentucky.
CSA programs are at the forefront of national trends to promote grass-roots art buying and collecting and were recently featured in the New York Times. The Lexington Art League (LAL) kicked off Kentucky’s first CSA program in July 2013, and now, one year later, the program is only growing stronger.
In honor of a successful first year for CSA in Lexington, LAL is sponsoring a multidisciplinary celebration concert, CSA LIVE: An Evening of Story and Song at the Lyric Theatre on Friday, June 27 at 8pm. This concert will feature musical and literary talent involved in the CSA program.
Reva Williams, singer/songwriter and member of Small Batch and Ancient Warfare, sat down with LAL to provide a glimpse into the collaborative, creative process that lays the groundwork for art making in Lexington. Reva will be performing with both Ancient Warfare and Small batch at CSA LIVE.
“Collaboration definitely depends on the people you’re with,” Williams said. “When you’re working with people who realize the creative process takes time it gives you the chance to come up with something truly organic.”
“To me, the only thing I’m interested in is good work that speaks something to the human person,” Williams said. She and the other musicians were given the opportunity to choose the poets who will be featured in CSA LIVE. After reading See How We Are, a book featuring Lexington Poetry Month writers, the musicians decided that work by Kentucky poets Savannah Sipple, Leatha Kendrick, and Marianne Worthington would fit best in the show.
Williams said that she, along with the rest of Small Batch and Ancient Warfare, believe Lexington can provide great things.
“We work hard to support the local economy. Not out of sentimentality, but because our local things are excellent,” Williams said. “Lexington is ripe with art…a lot is going on here.”
While artistic fellowship is a main focus for these musicians, organizing practice times between their busy schedules can become a task all its own. Within Small Batch there are five permanent members, who are also in 15 different musical partnerships between all band members.
“Sometimes it’s a struggle to puzzle piece things together because we all have jobs and our own lives,” Williams said. “It can be crazy, but it’s always a rewarding and fun experience,” she said.
Small Batch’s first experience with CSA was being part of the April crop with their seven-inch vinyl contribution. Williams said being contacted by LAL was perfect timing, because they needed an impetus to get in the studio to start recording.
“Having cash up front to record music is expensive,” she said. “It was great having the funding to continue doing what we wanted.” Small Batch is now in the studio adding to their CSA contribution in hopes of releasing a full album soon.
The nature of the music scene in Lexington is an interwoven web of creative resources. It’s not uncommon for artists to roam from band to band exploring new depths of musical talent with a myriad of people, feeding artistic energy of all kinds. CSA LIVE is designed to be a testament to the ongoing cross-pollination of the arts.
“The boundaries of creative practice among artists here is fluid,” Lexington Art League Curator Becky Alley said.
“Performing artists, musicians, writers, and visual artists are friends, they share ideas, and they collaborate on projects,” she said. “By design, the CSA program supports the creation of new work, and LAL feels that extending an invitation to writers and musicians only strengthens the program and its community-minded spirit.”
“Most of Lexington’s music scene happens when people are asleep,” Williams said. “CSA is a chance to introduce that music and art to people who haven’t had a chance to experience it yet. People don’t know the richness of music here and that it can add a lot to their lives.”
See Reva Williams and the rest of Small Batch and Ancient Warfare at the Lyric Theatre next Friday, June 27 at 8pm. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased here: http://lexingtonlyric.tix.com/Event.aspx?EventCode=661625