Tiny art reaps big benefits for YMCA

FIVE Squared celebrates five years at the Davis Family YMCA in Boardman.

The benefit art show traditionally raises about $3,500 annually for the YMCA’s ARTreach program, which provides free art programming to underserved areas of the community.

This year, attendees will be able to pick from 482 works, each measuring 5-inches-by-5-inches square. All of the art is priced at $25.

But there is a catch. Buyers will not know who created the work until they’ve paid for it and take it off the wall.

Suzanne Gray, arts and humanities coordinator at the YMCA, said it’s become a popular annual event.

“I think it’s affordable for people to buy it, and small enough that the artists don’t mind donating to it,” she said. “And it’s just absolutely a fun day at the opening.”

The reception starts at 1 p.m. Sunday, when guests can view the art on the walls and purchase raffle tickets for $1 each. Ten raffle tickets will be drawn around 2 p.m., allowing the winner to buy one of the works before the public sale.

The rest of crowd gets to line up behind a blue line until exactly 2:30 p.m., when all of the work will be available to the first person who grabs it.

“It’s not like Black Friday, but it’s a little bit exciting,” Gray said.

The canvas could have been created by a child … or one of the area’s top artists. While most of the work was created by regional artists, Gray said this year’s show includes pieces submitted from artists in 11 countries.

“We put out a call for art on the Internet,” she said. “Sometimes the Internet can be a lovely thing.”

Traditionally, between 100 to 150 pieces sell at the opening reception. The remaining work will be displayed through March 4 and can be purchased throughout the run of the show.