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Site creates new marketplace for homeless artists

“Blue Moon Over Back Bay” by Dante Gandini.

Boston-area artists who have barely eked out a living by selling their creations on street corners, at craft fairs, and at open-air markets now have an online marketplace to sell their art.

Brother-sister duo Spencer and Liz Powers recently launched ArtLifting, which sells artwork created by people in art therapy programs. They created the site, artlifting.com, with the work of four artists who participate in Common Art, an art therapy program in Boston for homeless and low-income residents.

“I love to be able to sit here or wherever I am and put forth my vision of the world,” said Dante Gandini, 58, a self-described “starving artist” whose paintings of the Back Bay and Beacon Hill are for sale on the site. “The fact that people purchase it, it just validates me.”


The online market grew out of an annual event called City Heart, at which art created by people in homeless shelters in Boston and Cambridge was displayed and sold to the public.

“The constant question my brother and I would get is, ‘Why is this just once a year,’ ” said Liz Powers, 25, a Harvard graduate who established art groups in homeless shelters in Cambridge after college.

So the siblings decided to launch a website on which homeless and disabled people enrolled in art therapy programs could sell their work.

The items for sale include original paintings, prints, and iPhone cases. Artists determine amounts they expect to receive for their work. Additional costs to maintain the website, purchase art supplies, and support art therapy programs are added to the prices, Liz Powers said.

Art currently on the website ranges from iPhone cases and prints priced below $50 to original paintings available for several hundred dollars.

“If I sell my work, it lets me buy more supplies to make more art,” said Allen Chamberland, 48. The South End resident uses a paper-cutting technique to create images of the Zakim Bridge, Christian Science Church, and other Boston landmarks.


Liz and Spencer Powers said they hope the site can support itself financially, improve the artists’ lives, and educate the public about art therapy.

“The average person doesn’t know that art therapy is a thing and that art can serve as a therapeutic process,” said Spencer Powers, 29 a graduate of Boston College. “We’re also sharing the message that the people who are experiencing homelessness are actively working to improve their situation and heal themselves.”

Laura Crimaldi can be reached at laura.crimaldi@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @lauracrimaldi.