The First Ever Online Art Dispersal

by Patricia Lynch

An art dispersal is a form that addresses two serious problems in our culture. Number one, people are not able to live with original art in their homes and workplaces. The enlivening healing power of original art is not available. Original art is too expensive for most people to purchase. With galleries doing the pricing and taking 50 to 60%, the prices are just too high for most people to afford. But there is also an elitism around galleries, many people feel that it is not a place for them and so they never even enter.

Number two, artists are not supported. Artists need financial support but they also need our interest and appreciation. One artist said after participating in an art dispersal,

“I had a gallery show recently with the same pieces and although people were polite, I took home all my 20 paintings after the month. I felt like giving up painting. In the art dispersal most of my paintings found homes and people’s enthusiasm for living with my art was inspiring. I am going home to create. The money I received was not as much as my paintings were priced at the gallery but because so many of them were taken it was significant to me.”

This is the way our culture could be. There could be art in people’s spaces and artists could be appreciated and financially supported. But we need new forms. One of these is an art dispersal. Art dispersal is an event where we hang up original works of art and invite people to become their stewards. They can take a piece home, keep it for as long as they like, return it to the artist if they no longer want to keep it or pass it on to someone else who wants it.  Stewards are encouraged to make a contribution that is possible for them.

Free Columbia has run 15 Art Dispersals over the past 8 years, with over 640 paintings (as well as other works of art) dispersed to stewards in Hudson, Philmont, Spring Valley, and Manhattan, NY; Eugene and Portland, OR; Los Angeles, CA; New Orleans, LA; and Jarna, Sweden and at the past two Annual General Meetings of the Anthroposophical Society in New Orleans and Atlanta.

When the Anthroposophical Society decided that the AGM in October 2020 would be held online, Laura Summer and Patricia Lynch decided to take the dispersal online too. The form we will use is to solicit paintings and other arts from interested artists and make a Flickr album so people can see them. During the days of the AGM Laura and Patricia will be on Zoom to disperse the paintings to people who wish to become their stewards. Artwork will be shipped at the steward’s expense or picked up by the steward if they are local. Stewards will be provided with the suggested donation range that begins at zero and ends at what the artist would price the painting at if they sold it privately, (gallery price would be double).

In this way everyone can find an amount that works for them and at the same time provides support for the artist. All donations will be pooled and distributed to the artists whose work was dispersed. A small portion of the money realized will support the project and the Anthroposophical Society.

More information can be found on the website of Free Columbia


  1. Marie Laure valandro on August 1, 2020 at 10:22 pm

    Great initiative. Congratulations!
    My website has an art section along with my written works

  2. Claudia Mann on August 1, 2020 at 11:44 pm

    How do we donate or participate in the art dispersal??

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