New CMA installation lets visitors barter for local art

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Today the Columbus Museum of Art launched a program that gives both noteworthy local art a spot on its venerable walls and art lovers a chance to buy a piece of local art without spending a dime.

The green and orange, mid-century vending machine-style Trade-O-Mat is a project by Oakland, California, artist Kathryn Kenworth. CMA studio programs coordinator Susie Underwood met Kenworth at a national art and social practice conference and, upon hearing about the art-for-services concept, knew she wanted to bring it to Columbus.

"I think a lot of it has to do with the idea of bypassing consumption and monetary systems set up by our government," Underwood said of the appeal of Trade-O-Mat to the artists. "This is also a great way to connect the museum with the local art community. This is a really simple mechanism to do that."

Here's how it works: Once a month, a guest curator will select five artists to display one piece each in the Trade-O-Mat display case. Visitors to the museum can fill out cards listing their trade request and contact information and put it in a slot below the desired artwork. "Shoppers" can barter anything for the artwork - from recipes to snow shoveling services, another piece of artwork to a piece of clothing. The artists will collect the requests at the end of their show's run and will get in touch with the trader whose offer they like best.

Artist Dan Gerdeman curated the debut edition of the project. Works from Stephanie Rond, Laura Alexander, Rob Jones, Joey Monsoon and Kat Marie Moya line the inaugural Columbus Trade-O-Mat deck, which will be up for barter until Nov. 18. Future curators include Mary Jo Bole and Olivera Bratich.

Underwood said she hopes the project benefits the museum's visitors beyond potentially providing them with an artwork.

"Creativity can be for everybody," Underwood said. Trade-O-Mat "breaks down the boundary," she added, of feeling like creativity is mutually exclusive to professionals; visitors will perhaps find their own art in whatever it is they barter.

Trade-O-Mat is located in the museum's Center for Creativity, which visitors can access by paying for CMA admission or can peruse for free on Sundays.

Following, this month's Trade-O-Mat art:

"Hero of the Adopted Son," by Joey Monsoon

"Who Knows It Better Than I," by Rob Jones

"Sonada," by Kat Marie Moya

"Mother and Son II," by Stephanie Rond

"Crystallized I," by Laura Alexander