Art for the People: 
The Umpteenth Annual $20 Art Show

Visitors to last year’s Umpteenth Annual $20 Art Show might have been somewhat daunted when they arrived at Copper and Kings, the then 14-year-old art show’s new venue.

The fervor surrounding this annual and affordable arts show had reached a point where there was a line of a hundred people waiting outside to get in to see work from a host of local and regional artists, with each offering available for one cold hard Jackson.

Local artists Ron Jasin and Mary Yates, known together to their fans (including me) as Madpixel, along with Scott Shuffit, a founder of the Kentucky Kick Down, have organized the show since 2012.

Aside from making his own affordable and eye catching art, Jasin has experience in marketing. “Being a commercial artist, advertising is in my background,” said Jasin. “I’ve been in advertising and marketing for a really long time.”

Jasin says the fervor surrounding the show isn’t an accident. “Another one of the spirits of the show that was passed on to us was the spirit of that Black Friday urgency. That’s why the show is only three hours long. It’s a get in, get your things, and move on.”

For art fans not quite so into the hustle and bustle, don’t worry. Several updates to the show’s format this year should add some comfort to the hubbub. This year the show is split onto two levels of Copper and Kings. If there is a line out the door, that line will be waiting under a heated 30-foot by 40-foot tent, while local coffee shop Quills provides free coffee to eager attendees awaiting their turn to to survey the show.

That sense of urgency is just a means to an ends. The real purpose of the show is to get art into the hands of people who otherwise might not be able to afford it. “I see lots of art that I love that’s $5,000. I can’t afford that. I don’t know anybody that can afford that,” said Jasin.

He’s quick to point out the fact that the hypothetical $5,000 painting isn’t overpriced. “I look at an oil painting and I think, ‘That had to take months, and oil paint is expensive, and all the years that person spent getting their skill to that level.’”

Part of the inspiration of the original $20 Art Show, and one of its continuing guiding principles, is to challenge artists to find a way to make art that can be reasonably sold for $20. They have to take into consideration a host of criteria, including the price of the materials and the hours the piece will take to create. Then they have to also create a piece that they think speaks to their artistic vision. Any project that challenges local artists to think outside their comfort zone is something you should be excited about, and unlike some of the art shows around town, almost everyone can afford to take home the eye-catching results.

The show includes a who’s who of local arts luminaries, with over 30 artists, including some of my personal favorites: Anrgyblue, Damon Thompson, Mia Snell, MissHappyPink and Sarah Tidwell.