Going along with images can be viewed in the February 2015 issue PDF

By Alexander M. Padro *

It was November, and plunging temperature levels, gusting winds, and forecasts of rain and snow made it clear that the outdoor Art Rave DC market at 11th and U Streets, NW, beside the Bohemian Caverns, faced closing down for the winter.

A recommendation from one of the owners of the popular 9th Street antique home products store Simon Vintage resulted in the market’s organizer asking Shaw Main Streets, “Exists throughout Shaw that the market could relocate to for the holidays?” A few telephone call and e-mails later, the Shaw Arts, Crafts and Fashion Market pop-up was born.

Douglas Development, the biggest private commercial home owner in Shaw, provided the first floor of exactly what longtime neighborhood locals still refer to as the Popeye’s Structure at the northeast corner of Florida and Georgia Avenues, NW, as the venue for a holiday arts market.

In a matter of weeks, Art Rave DC curated a dazzling selection of work by established and emerging local and regional painters, jewelers, fashion designers, and other professionals, and the indoor market opened on December 6, 2014.

The marketplace proved popular with both Art Rave DC’s existing clients, along with main Shaw and LeDroit Park homeowners and the throngs of visitors who come to the community to eat, consume and be entertained every week.

Promoted primarily through social media sites, and signs in the enormous windows dealing with Florida and Georgia Avenues, the marketplace’s artisan lineup altered weekly, with brand-new artists rotating in and sharing area with others who became regulars. Live demonstrations of African kente fabric weaving and abstract painting also drew crowds. A typical weekend included hand-painted tee t-shirts, handmade copper jewelry, brightly patterned dresses, purses made from recycled products, and provocative paintings– all selling equally well. Window displays altered weekly.

The artists and designers displaying at the market were grateful for the opportunity to show and offer their work throughout the holiday seasonholiday. “This has actually been a game-changer for these artisans,” reflected Art Rave DC’s Kenneth David (“Chef Ken”) Acclar. “This is the very first year they’ve ever had the ability to continue keep doing what they enjoy till Christmas, after the weather condition normally has sent them home for the season.”

Community companycompany owner have likewise gained from having the Shaw Art Market on the corner instead of a vacant retail area and windows covered with leasing signs. Tammy Truong, owner of I Ching, an Asian fusion restaurant, has seen new customers coming to her six-month-old, three-story facility during the weekends when the marketplace is open. “We’ve really needed a huge draw on the block,” Troung observed.

And then came Christmas, and the market went dark. However a tenant had not yet materialized for the space, and the phone calls and e-mails started being available in, asking “When are you opening again?”

So after a three-week hiatus, the marketplace returned with a bang on January 16, 2015, with a night focusedconcentrated on paintings only, filled with live music, live painting, and a crowd of hundreds of people, ranging from skateboarders to art collectors. By the end of the night, the walls had empty areas all over as an outcome of the energetic sales that put smiles on the artists’ faces. One community companycompany owner, Thai Xing’s Taw Vigsittaboot, purchased three canvases to show in his new 9th Street restaurant, consisting of one repainted live that night.

Amongst the highlights of brand-new additions to the market’s lineup in January were bonsai trees, wood sculptures, and a brand-new crop of painters.

Numerous sculptors are finishing preparations for display screen of massive works in the area’s floor-to-ceiling windows. And added nighttime events are planned. The marketplace will certainly stayremain in operation for the time being, till somebody signs a lease.

The Shaw Arts, Crafts and Fashion Market at 651 Florida Opportunity, NW, presented by Shaw Main Streets and Art Rave DC, is now open three days per week — — Friday and Saturday from 12 twelve noon to 8 pm and Sunday from 12 noon to 6 pm. Admission is free.

For more informationTo learn more on the market and special occasions, visit www.shawmainstreets.org. For info on exhibiting at the marketplace, go to www.districthousedc.com.

* The author, a long-time local of the Shaw community, is also the Executive Director of Shaw Main Streets.
Copyright 2015 InTowner Publishing Corp. amp; Shaw Main Streets, Inc. All rights reserved.