Art NotesArts & Culture

Indie South Fair’s Springtacular Market Moves to the Streets of Downtown

Sharing the common goal to strengthen a sense of community, the Human Rights Festival and Indie South Fair are combining forces to present their events side-by-side downtown this year. Organizing a large-scale street festival is no easy feat, and though the Human Rights Festival put out a call for artists last year in an effort to develop its own artist market, the idea was shelved due to lack of response. This time around, HRF took a different route by approaching Indie South Fair’s founder Serra Ferguson with the idea of partnering the two independent festivals for the weekend. The collaboration is essentially a win-win; while the Human Rights Fest presents speakers, entertainers and information booths on College Square, upwards of 90 artist vendors will set up shop for Indie South Fair’s annual Springtacular market a block over, near Washington Street.

“I appreciate that the Human Rights Fest sees the need for a solely arts-focused event downtown and wants to expand the connection between our creatives and our community,” says Ferguson. “Indie South Fair makes it easy to shop small and shop local, and you connect directly with the person who made what you are purchasing, or in the case of vintage, rescued it from being thrown away.”

Indie South serves an essential role in the lives of artists, not only by creating a physical platform through which they can sell and promote their wares, but by putting Athens on the map as a destination for craft-loving out-of-towners. Because of the market’s large size and high visibility, many vendors travel from out of state, providing more variety to shoppers than the typical locals-only markets. Everything imaginable can be found; small-batch organic jams by Piedmont Provisions, all-natural beauty products by Truly Radiant, hand-screened prints by Double Dutch Press and lovingly arranged terrariums by Zen Succulent are just a few of the items in store.

“Participating in a market like ours is not just about sales; it is about getting hands-on experience with presentation, customer service, networking with fellow artists and connecting with a wide range of people,” says Ferguson. “Though social media and sites like Etsy give artists a forum to sell their wares, even if they never want to leave the house, I do not think it is a substitute for connecting directly with the people who love—or don’t love—your art. Artists can get valuable feedback from the candid comments and reactions that customers have to their work, seeing it for the first time in person.”

Many of Indie South’s crafters create works that breathe new life into materials that would otherwise be discarded. This economic resourcefulness, paired with mindfulness, represents the growing trend of eco-art, which is very much in line with ideals promoted through the Human Rights Festival. Nerdy Clocks creates fun and functioning clocks out of old-school Nintendo video game cartridges, and phReclaimed makes custom tables and hand-carved spoons out of reclaimed wood salvaged from local lumber yards and historic buildings undergoing renovation.

The iconic art cars of well-known local folk artists Cap Man and Chris Hubbard are both immediately identifiable anywhere they appear. Cap Man can be spotted around town cruising in a truck completely covered in bottle caps, and Hubbard’s “Heaven and Hell Car” is adorned with saints, angels and devils made from found wood and rusted sheet metal.

A handful of dealers will present curated collections of their thrift and antique shop finds, including Gates of Dawn Vintage, Vannety Vintage, Electric Revival Vintage, Opal Mae & Miss Dot, Fur Hat Guild, Forgotten Feather Vintage and Ferguson’s own collection, Strange Magick Vintage. “Vintage is rescuing clothing that would otherwise end up in a landfill,” says Ferguson.

As more attention is drawn to the consequences of fast fashion—cheaply produced and quickly “outdated” clothing sold at the expense of unethical labor practices and increased landfill usage—many activists are searching for sustainable production methods that can set a new industry standard. Dedicated to complete transparency, Mindful Supply Co. is an all-American apparel company that allows consumers to track its eco-friendly supply chain from where the cotton is grown to where items are knitted, dyed, designed and printed. Untitled Thoughts, another environmentally conscious line of clothing, upcycles old fabrics whenever possible to create current styles.

Partnering with the Human Rights Festival to bring an artist street market downtown is just one way that Indie South Fair has grown over the past eight years. After listening to feedback from her vendors, Ferguson launched smaller markets—Handmade Lovers in February, and Back to Cool in September—to provide local artists with an opportunity to take advantage of busy retail seasons. The Eclectic Bazaar, Indie South’s scaled-down, “little sister” pop-up market will soon make its way to Atlanta, offering vintage, collectibles and handmade items on Saturday, May 30 from 11 a.m.–7 p.m. at 323 Moreland Avenue in Little Five Points.

WHAT: Indie South Fair
WHEN: May 2–3, 11 a.m.–7 p.m.
WHERE: College Ave. & Washington St.