“This isn’t your grandmother’s arts and craft show,” said Kohlbrenner, an artist and owner of Craft Chemistry, a new arts and craft store opening in Little Italy, on North Salina Street, Nov. 7. “We are featuring arts and crafts that come with a twist. We want to make it a bit of an experience. The market made sense because it was a way to interact with different artists within the community.”
Added Rose, a fourth-grade teacher, “There can be a lot of energy. We want the event to be inspiring, mind-blowing.”
Inspiration for the event itself came to Kohlbrenner when she found herself at a career crossroads. Wanting to bring some of the urban culture she experienced in her hometown of Brooklyn to Syracuse, she came up with the idea of an “indie market.” After their collaboration on the Super 8 Film Festival ended in April she approached Rose, whom she met six years ago, with the idea. Rose loved the idea, and to the excitement of the community and its artists, the Salt City Art & Craft Market was born.
“We want it to be a huge party,” said Kohlbrenner. Once the idea took form, Kohlbrenner and Rose set up a Web site, www.saltcitycraftmart.com, and promoted their event while calling for local crafters, artists and designers with unusual, fresh and fun products to apply for a table at the market. The women chose more than 30 vendors, including brands such as Hat Factory Books, Dirty Ass Soaps and Pure Natural Minerals. They contend that choosing was the most difficult part.
“It was hard telling people that they were too well-established to be chosen this year,” noted Kohlbrenner. The women wanted a mix of crafts and affordable items mostly $50 and under.
While they were working on getting vendors, they also found local musicians and performers of all genres willing to entertain people while they shop. Burnet Avenue’s Sugarpearl Cafe agreed to provide refreshments at the market, a few artists are creating large pieces to fill the space and one section, sponsored by Syracuse Experimental Film and Video Workshop, will display soundless video projections of some of Kohlbrenner and Rose’s previous Super 8 Film Festival entries as well as other digitized creative images.
“People, including the artists, are saying it sounds cool, a lot of fun,” said Rose.
Beth Eischen, founder of Lilipad Creations and one of the featured artists with a table at the market, anticipates a different type of craft show as well.
“I am excited to see the evolution of the craft show,” noted Eischen, who expects a fresh enough market will attract a younger audience than the usual grandma types. Eischen’s collection of purses, boots and cosmetic bags attracts a hipper audience, and the Lilipad Creations table will feature a lot of small accessories such as hats, wallets, mini clutch purses, checkbook covers and wristlets ranging from $8 to $36.
“This event will attract people who really care about where they are spending their money. The emphasis is on quality,” said Eischen, noting that people at the market put more consideration into their holiday gifts than raiding the sales rack at Macy’s.
Aside from tapping into a different crowd, Phyllis Vadala, owner of Sugarpearl Cafe, said the market is significant in another way. “The fact that they picked the people in the show was very important because it wasn’t political. It’s not about who knows who. I think mediocrity pervades this place because of that,” said Vadala of the Syracuse art scene. “We are hearing from people we normally wouldn’t hear from—organizers are giving them a voice. I’m glad someone struck out and did something different.”
Maarten Jacobs, director of the Near West Side Initiative (NWSI), a group which provided the warehouse space for the event and is helping promote it, believes that the event is great for the community. Because part of the group’s mission is to infuse artists in the community in order to revitalize it, the event meshed well with NWSI.
“More people are being exposed to the neighborhood. People have been amazingly positive,” said Jacobs, who has known Kohlbrenner and Rose for awhile. “I certainly think it will be a success because of Bri and Vanessa. They are two women who when they get an idea, they run with it.”
Kohlbrenner and Rose are confident their event will succeed and will become an annual event. “We want it to be bigger and better each year,” Kohlbrenner noted. Admission is $1, although patrons are welcome to donate more; proceeds will benefit promotion of next year’s show. For more information, call 440-0506.