Cash & Carry X Opens at Exchange Gallery

Sales begin December 1st

Now in its tenth year, the annual “Cash & Carry” show at Bloomsburg’s Exchange Gallery opened on Monday, November 20th. This year, The Exchange gave away 500 panels for artists to make work on – 333 eight-inch squares, more than 130 seven-by-nine-inch rectangles, and more than 130 nine-inch triangles. After we gave them all away, artists could make their own panels out of any durable material (no bread or cheese, please), and the show opened with more than 500 pieces; by the third day, the total came to 530 – the largest “Cash & Carry” ever. (Work will continue to come in throughout the show: Why set a hard deadline when we don’t have to?)

Artists could work in any medium and could alter the panels too if they wish. The show includes acrylic, oil, and watercolor paintings; pastel and pencil drawings; collages; photographs; sculptures; fiber art; and various mixed media including pheasant feathers, LED lights, and cast iron, among many more materials. Most panels hang on the wall; some sit or stand.

One traditionally marks a tenth wedding anniversary with gifts made of tin and aluminum; in honor of the tenth year of “Cash & Carry”, we also encouraged artists to make ornaments out of recycled food and beverage cans, and we have more than two dozen of them hanging on a tree here for customers to choose among.

Most pieces sells for $30, with the artist receiving $24; many, including the ornaments, sell for $10, with the artist receiving $8. “These pieces make wonderful holiday gifts,” says Exchange executive director Oren B. Helbok, “and the very reasonable prices makes them accessible to everyone.”

As with all of the Gallery’s open-call shows, “Cash & Carry” welcomes participation by ALL artists, and this year’s show again has work by artists with decades of experience and by preschool children, and by everyone in between. More than 250 artists contributed work. They come from eight counties in central Pennsylvania, range in age from 3 to 70something, and include students at Bloomsburg High School, Central Columbia Middle School, St. Columba Catholic School, Liberty Valley Elementary School, Hazleton’s Valley Middle School, and Fern Hill School in Milton.

A group of people including volunteers hung the show, and “Cash & Carry X” FILLS the Gallery with beautiful, interesting, and joyful artwork. “It feels like Christmas in the Gallery every day this time of year,” Helbok says, “as more and more pieces arrive. Unless you have seen a ‘Cash & Carry’ show before, you have never seen anything like it.”

“Every year, more and more new artists get involved,” Helbok continues. “More than 800 artists have exhibited work in more than 80 Gallery shows since we opened here in 2014, but we plainly have come nowhere close to exhausting this region’s talent – and we plainly fill a real need for people who have never shown work publicly but very much want an opportunity to. Every year, I write checks to many first-time exhibitors, including school kids. Telling them ‘Your work has sold in a gallery’ has a very positive effect on the way that they think about their art. You really cannot measure the value of art by money, of course – but selling some doesn’t hurt.”

“Cash & Carry X” sales start at the show’s reception, which takes place on Friday, December 1st, and coincides with the “Coming Home For Christmas” event on the Square in downtown Bloomsburg. Beginning at 10 o’clock that morning, Gallery visitors may take numbers, and at 6 p.m. the person with number 1 may choose ONE piece to buy; if that person wants another piece, s/he must take another number and go to the back of the line. Then the person with number 2 gets to choose a piece, etc. “This process makes it fair,” says Helbok. “No one person gets to take ‘all of the good stuff’ – and it also makes for a lot of fun as buyers talk to each other about which pieces they want most and which they will aim for if their first choices sell.” After the first hour or so, buyers do not need to take numbers, and the Gallery will stay open that evening as long as it has interested customers. Sales will then continue throughout the run of the show, ending on December 29th.

The show’s name comes from its informal nature: Buyers take their pieces home with them as soon as they have paid for them. (In most Gallery exhibitions, work stays on the wall until the end of the show.) Contrary to the name, the Gallery accepts checks and charge cards too; we just like the way “Cash & Carry” sounds.

The Exchange Gallery, at 24 East Main Street in Bloomsburg, has regular hours from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Mondays and Fridays; hours vary slightly on Tuesdays through Thursdays. For more information about The Exchange, and its weekly hours, visit or or call 570-317-2596.