Riverside Arts Market

I have been getting a ton of emails and hearing quite the buzz about the Riverside Art Market (in Jacksonville Florida).  Perhaps it is because I am an artist and they are hoping that I will participate – but I think other people are hearing about it as well. They have really been talking this up, getting the buzz going, and I hear they are doing quite a bit of  advertising. The opening is scheduled for Saturday, April 4th, 2009, and held every Saturday, April to December. It is located under the Fuller Warren Bridge,  with the back drop being the lovely St. John’s River.  The Market (RAM) has promised to be a dependable marketplace for artists to sell their work weekly, as well provide a quality family entertainment destination. It is somewhat covered – so if it is ever drizzly, it won’t ruin the atmosphere.  The RAM idea has been 16 years in the making, and is inspired by the Portland Saturday Market – which I am guessing is an artsy, green market; a farmers market of sorts with visual eye candy as well as aural entertainment.  A celebration of the local fruits of labor.  If I don’t exhibit,  I sure plan to attend.  I am trying to get my boyfriends band to play, and peddle their CD’s.   This weekly event should be a welcome addition to the area (Jacksonville) that will hopefully inspire and encourage the arts and culture of a city that is in dire need of an inspiration jump start.  They expect approximately 3000 visitors the first event – lets see if we can’t bump that number up by passing the word on.



Filed under Art Events, Art Fair Related

5 responses to “Riverside Arts Market

  1. Dan

    This was a unqualified success for J’ville. But for the Artist ?
    between the constant roar of over head traffic, the terrible acoustic situation for the main preforming band, the drummers ( got’a go!), and the trumpet player, I couldn’t hear a thing.
    Without the ability to talk to our customers, how can we sell ?
    We don’t get asked questions like ” how much is your soap’. No one points at our work as signals ” I’ll take two” ( wish !).
    And to the Artist who got stuck buy the , food vendors, preforming artist, produce vendors, I feel your pain. Staring at the backs of the heads of a bunch of people, clogging the isles, preventing interested people from even getting to your booth, let alone wanting to spend time there viewing, and discussing your work.
    This market is 100% vendor supported, many vendors will not return under those conditions, no vendors, no market. Many of the v’drs are in for 5 – 10 week packages, after that there will be a noticeable drop off, unless a major re vamp of the layout is done. I expect some of them that don’t sell the lower priced art, will cut their losses and move on to somewhere that offers better sales . I didn’t see much, if any of the better art being sold, it was all part of the entertainment, not an artist sales venue.
    I see from the RAM e-news letter, that they are already soliciting more artist, in spite of the fact they claim a waiting list.
    Most of the Artist were Pro-show vendors, and won’t put up with these conditions, too many other shows/markets on the circuit to choose from. It’s all about sales for most of these Artist ( myself included) we have to make a living, we can show our work almost anywhere. I hope RAM can overcome these problems. Otherwise it will end up being an ” Open air market” rather than an ” Art Market”.

  2. JEAN

    So did you make it to the market? The turnout was absolutely enormous–40,000 according to the paper. Lots of cool stuff . . .

    • Casey Matthews

      I did make it. It was such a beautiful setting on the river and the weather was amazing. We made a day of it and dropped the dog off at doggie daycare (Pet Paradise), ate in Avondale (Biscotti’s) and shopped around a little. The crowd was HUGE. I hope it was a success for all/many of the artists.

      On the downside it was a little loud, but maybe I am getting old. I am not sure how it will be received every Saturday between now and December though. I can’t image they will have that much traffic aside from this inaugural month, and will the artists continue to turnout – every single Saturday. I can’t imagine myself attending every weekend or even every month – but then again I live 45 minutes away, and I do work on Saturdays. Maybe they will have new vendors? If they continue to list the artists online, perhaps I might go if I recognize anyone I know. I did see a few of our sweet little Fernandina Beach Farmer’s Market vendors, including our beloved Orchid man. It thought it sucked that they left our quaint, but scarce market for greener pastures – but I guess you gotta go where the money/crowds are – I get that. The arts and crafts vendors were just OK in my opinion (quality, uniqueness). I was expecting more of the great contemporary local artists to actually get off their asses and join the ranks – I saw only 2-3. But then again this is a very busy year for serious art and crafters – the Florida art show circuit is well under way, and you apply up to 6-8 months in advance to get into some of the best shows. Most people consider Jacksonville a second tier market. I had about 3-4 crafty things I was looking for and did not see a single thing that caught my eye: New artsy coffee mugs, an outdoor wall sculpture, a Mothers Day gift (jewelery), etc. However that is just my opinion. There were a bunch of low end items, and run of the mill jewlery – but those are fairly easy to turn over and justify a haughty set up just for a few hours (10AM-4PM.)

      Some man/exhibiting artist who I don’t know left a scathing comment on my blog about the festival – like I (A) had anything to do with it and (B) care, and (C) have any control over the situation – none the less I left it up for others to read.

  3. JEAN

    I know the market director, Tony Allegretti, and he and his people are determined to keep things fresh; I think they expect/want new artists to cycle in, and of course the tricky thing is deciding what sorts of stuff the J-ville crowd will support. A lot of the vendors I spoke with did extremely well, and a friend of mine, Kathy Stark, sold 6 of her paintings. That said, I expect the farmers market component (which was wiped out by early afternoon–they’ll need to bring more produce!) and the music are as much of a draw as the art.

    • Casey Matthews

      Good – I hope so. Jacksonville needs a good cultural jump start. I think everyone has the tendency to become apathetic after a while (myself included) Unfortunately it (the laziness, negativity) can be infectious. I hope they have a supportive audience that will be able to stick through these first few weeks and months – as well as cultivate and nurture some community cheerleaders and continue to rally up new vendors, artists, and patrons. I wish them the best of luck. It has got the be the hardest job of 2009 – but defiantly one with a potentially rewarding outcome.

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