Just when it was starting to become a local institution, the Lawrence Own-Your-Own Art Show has been called off.
For this year, anyway.
Organizers made the decision in late July to cancel the exhibition due to inadequate financial support from the community, and mailed out postcards last week notifying artists, patrons and others.
"We're disappointed," says Lee Gerhard, chairman of the Lawrence Corporation for the Advancement of the Visual Arts, which founded the event in 2001. "It's a really tough economic time in this town and many other towns right now."
Grace Carmody, a Lawrence artist and member of the LOYO committee, says the primary benefactor for the 2007 show withdrew in the spring. The committee applied for a grant that didn't come through, and then included a plea for financial support from artists when it sent out the prospectus for the show.
"We did not receive one response," Carmody says.
Committee members themselves chipped in money and managed to raise about half of the $6,000 needed to put on the show.
"At some point you have to let the artists know so they're not preparing pieces with the assumption that they're going to be showing," Gerhard says. "The deadline for entries was going to be October."
The show's founders created LOYO to encourage Lawrence residents to buy artwork for their homes and businesses while bringing exposure to local artists. It distinguishes itself from other high-profile art sales by accepting only full retail price for pieces, which are selected by a juror. The event has been held at several locations, including the Carnegie Building, the Hobbs Taylor Lofts and, most recently, the Lawrence Arts Center.
Artists, who don't pay an entry fee, donate 20 percent of their proceeds to Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center. Those donations amount to about $2,000 for the center each year, says Jerry Bottenfield, community development director for Bert Nash.
"The money is nice," he says, "but the good thing for Bert Nash is it gave us an audience that we might not have otherwise in Lawrence, particularly among the art community and people that appreciate art."
Organizers say they will try to bring LOYO back next year and are open to suggestions for retooling to make it more viable.
Gerhard says once word got out that the show had been canceled, a donor came forward with the rest of the money. But the postcards already had been sent.
"We're hoping maybe that person will help us next year," he says.