Mark Bettis, a kingpin of the River Arts District whose prominent studio bears his name, launched a local initiative two months ago to help Western North Carolina’s vibrant cultural community survive the current trying times. Bettis’ branch of the Artist Support Pledge (styled #artistsupportpledgeRAD) pushes the pay-it-forward model to creative new levels. Local makers offer original works of art on virtual platforms, including Instagram and Facebook, with no individual piece exceeding a price tag of $200.
Once an artist sells $1,000, that person must then buy the work of another participating artist. The program numbered nearly two-dozen artists in April, but has since grown considerably.
“It’s been a terrific grassroots movement for artists and art patrons to help artists cope with the economic fallout of the COVID-19 crisis,” notes David Sheldon, a notable local painter and large-scale sculptor whose public art has appeared across the country. “It’s been wonderful getting word from folks acquiring my work — that the pieces have brought some peace of mind to them during a stressful time. It’s also been a terrific way to expand the viewership of both my painting and sculpture … patrons are frequenting the support-pledge Instagram page and seeing my work there for the first time.”
He adds, “Being able to ‘pay it forward’ to other artists as I reach my sales goals has been the most rewarding aspect — I love having an opportunity to help other artists any way I can.” And it hasn’t hurt his artistic goals, either: “I’ve even been able to bring my avant-garde portrait work into the mix, offering and getting commissions at the ‘support pledge’ rate.”
See “Artist Support Pledge” and “Artist Support Pledge RAD” on Facebook and on Instagram. Also markbettisart.com and davidquentinsheldon.com.