Creative District launches weekly downtown Art Market
Just as folks can peruse and buy the freshest greens and veggies from local growers at the Durango Farmer’s Market, they soon will be able to buy the freshest paintings, sculptures and other works of art from local artists.
Starting Sun., July 11, the Durango Art Market opens up at 11th Street Station, downtown on the corner of 11th and Main Avenue. The weekly market will take place from 10 a.m.–2 p.m. and run through Sept. 5.
The market, which will feature up to 16 artists a week, is the latest project from the Durango Creative District, which was established in the summer of 2018. The goal of the DCD, which operates under the umbrella of the Local First Foundation, is to foster and advocate for the local arts while helping to build a stronger art economy.
Like last summer’s downtown beautification project, the Art Market goes hand in hand with the DCD’s mission, said director Hayley Kirkman.
“The idea is for an art-focused market with a lower barrier to entry that is more visible to passersby,” she said.
For many artists, getting their work into one of the local galleries just isn’t feasible financially or otherwise, she said. Then, once in a gallery, there’s no guarantee one’s work will get seen by a wide enough audience. Selling art online poses a similar conundrum: setting up a website and then finding a way to drive traffic to the site. The Art Market provides a solution to these issues.
“We really need to give artists more opportunities in this community to showcase their work,” she said. “My greatest fear is artists and creatives won’t be able to afford to live here. We really need to prioritize these avenues.”
The idea for the Art Market came about last winter when Alyssia Alex, a sociology student from Fort Lewis College working at the DCD as an intern, was looking for ways to help bolster the creative economy. At the same time, 11th Street Station was talking to the DCD about ways to drive more people into the business.
“It just worked out,” said Kirkman.
Carmen Drulis, general manager of 11th Street Station, said the partnership and outdoor set up at 11th Street, is a natural fit.
“11th Street Station has become the hub for the community to gather, and we are honored to be able to support local artists,” she said.
Alex, who is now serving as the Art Market Coordinator, said mediums represented include everything from pottery and ceramics to paintings and pop art. (Sorry dancers, although performance art is welcomed, please note space is limited.) Although the application window for artists has officially closed, she said the DCD will still consider any late comers. Artists can apply online at www.durangocreativedistrict.org and need not appear every week but can choose the weeks that fit their schedule. “The goal is to mix up the vendor booths so we have a wider variety and every time you go, it’ll be relatively fresh,” said Kirkman.
In another effort to reduce barriers, artists can either buy their own booth, share a booth with another artist or put up a table under the communal tent. The costs range from $35-$20/week and there is a scholarship, provided by 1st Southwest Bank (which also paid for Alex’s internship), to help offset the entrance costs for artists.
“We think it’s really doable, not enough to break the bank,” said Kirkman.
While the focus will be on regional artists, artists from outside the area will also be invited to display their works. In addition, the market is working with local tribal members, including Eddie Box III, a Southern Ute artist, to get more Native art represented as well.
“That’ll be another important avenue for others who can’t find somewhere to show their art,” Kirkman said.
Art Market organizers are hopeful the market will help fill a void during otherwise “sleepy” Sundays in Durango and help bring the community together post-pandemic.
“I’m excited about creating an art community here in Durango,” said Alex, who enjoys creative hobbies like painting, drawing and simple sewing projects. “It will be great to accomplish something that brings the community together through art.”
For more on the Art Market or to apply, go to www.durangocreativedistrict.org