What’s it like being a part of an artists’ cooperative?

Since we’ve been working on our new website for C’ville Arts Gallery, I’ve been thinking a lot about who we are as an organization.  What attracts artists to join cooperatives and why would we all do just about anything to make sure our co-op not only survives, but that it thrives?

A couple of weeks ago, I had a phone call out of the blue from one of my fellow artist members, Mary Ellen Larkins.  Mary Ellen works in fused glass; she produces unique and beautiful jewelry, as well as some very interesting sculptural pieces and even some items for the home.  So, anyway, Mary Ellen left a message on my voice mail that she had a friend who has a gift shop, and he had received a shipment of depression glass that arrived in pieces.  Pieces?  Well, as an artist who works in mosaic, the word “pieces” makes my heart race!  Mary Ellen had convinced her friend that she knew someone who could put his shards of Depression-era glass to good use, and her message to me was simply “come and get it!”.  And get it I did; what a beautiful haul of broken glass it is!

This sort of thing happens all the time at the Gallery.  One artist will have something they no longer need, and they’ll call one of their fellow artists.  We’re always thinking about each other; we’re there for each other; we’re there for our cooperative, too.

I probably don’t have to tell you that times have been tough, and when people cut back on their buying, often the handmade arts and crafts are considered less essential.  So far, though, we’ve made it; and, we’ve made it because we’ve pulled together, tightened our belts, increased the percentage of sales that goes to the co-op, and generally just focused on providing quality handmade objects, whether traditional crafts or decorative art or fine art, that is well-made and affordable.

We do it together.  We love our Gallery’s location near the Central Place on the Charlottesville Downtown Mall, and there’s a true sense of cooperation among our group of artists.  We love our Gallery, and we really love the relationships that we develop with other artists.  There’s a certain camaraderie among our members, and though we each focus on our individual art, the Gallery provides us with a higher purpose for which to work.  It’s a very good thing.

– This article was written by Virginia Gardner, our resident mosaic artist.

 

Who is C’ville Arts?

C'ville Arts GalleryWelcome to our C’ville Arts blog; we look forward to welcoming you into our Gallery as well!

C’ville Arts is an artists cooperative.

Our co-op began in 1997 with the vision of a handful of craftspeople who sought a seasonal venue from which to sell their art. We moved from space to space for each of several holiday seasons and we called ourselves “Transient Crafters” . In 2000, with our membership growing, we secured our current, permanent location near the Central Place on the pedestrian mall Downtown.

As the 10-year anniversary of the first seasonal shop approached in 2007, we decided it was time for a new name that better reflected the focus of the gallery and our place in the community.  And so we became C’ville Arts: A Cooperative Gallery.

C'ville Arts Gallery, a gallery for crafts and art in CharlottesvilleOur Gallery of Crafts and Art is Managed Solely by Artist Members

The cooperative is composed of 50-60 artists.  There are several levels of membership, each with designated benefits and responsibilities, both financial and managerial.  We are governed by an elected Board of Directors; each Director serves a minimum 3-year term.  The Co-op employs one part-time administrator, who is also an artist member.  Staffing of the Gallery during business hours is provided only by Artist Members.

Our Artist Members are Selected through a Jury Process.

Our full membership meets four times each year, during which we review submissions of work by prospective artist members.  We maintain a wide variety of fine art and crafts at C’ville Arts; we are both gallery, boutique and gift shop.  Our purpose is to provide a venue for our artist members to make a living from their art, and so we maintain flexible control over our artists’ (our peers’) exhibited work.  We wish to provide the viewing and buying public with access to hand-made work by Virginia artists that is both well-crafted and affordable.  For information about applying for membership at C’ville Arts, please visit our Join Us! page.

Sculptor and painter, Lisa WodsMeet our Artists Every Day!

The Gallery is staffed solely by working artists; members of our cooperative share the responsibility of keeping the doors open for our customers.    If you would like to meet a specific artist, you can always call the Gallery and find out when they will be working their next shift in the shop.  Also, our monthly Featured Artists will always be on hand from 6:00 – 8:00 pm on the First Friday Opening of their show.

Let us say, once again, Welcome!