Art+in+the+Streets


by Gina Myers

This Thursday promises to be a busy night in Old Town Saginaw. In addition to the Blocktoberfest beer walk, Court Street Gallery will be celebrating its grand opening in its new location at 417 Hancock. And as part of that celebration, they will be taking art to the streets.

The Saginaw Art Market will be spread throughout several Old Town businesses and under tents set up along the sidewalks and will feature numerous artists, from painters and photographers to jewelry makers, t-shirt vendors, and ceramicists. At last count, there were 35 artists and five musicians signed up to participate. The idea for the market came to Paolo Pedini, who owns Court Street Gallery with his wife Sarah, after participating in similar events in other cities.

Pedini, who is also an artist, has had the opportunity to sell his work at similar events in Flint and Detroit. "The events I've been to have had a very D.I.Y. feel. There's an energetic vibe, and we want to create that here," he says. "I especially admire what's going on in Flint. There's the feeling that if nothing is going on for artists, musicians, and poets, you just have to find a space and create it yourself."

Since it opened over a year ago, the Court Street Gallery has been a haven for local talent and they hope to draw more attention to this talent through the art market and other events at the gallery, which has hosted art openings, poetry readings, book launches, and musicians. Pedini says the gallery began as a test. "We wanted to see how we'd be received in Saginaw, to see how much of an art community exists here." According to Pedini, the first year was a success. "I knew there was an art community here, but I wasn't sure if there was a public to support it. I see a lot of the work we're doing is to build a relationship between the art community and the public. So far, we've been well-received." 

This first art market is another test. Pedini says, "If there is a good turnout and the artists are able to make sales, then this is something we'll do more often." The current model for the market is set up so that it is free for artists to participate, which has helped with the diversity of artists who will be there. Artists are mostly tri-city based, but some will be coming from as far away as Flint and Howell.

A successful art market could help Saginaw gain the reputation as being an artist-friendly city, which is a larger goal of Pedini's. "I hope artists, writers, and musicians think of Saginaw as a city they can come to and stay in, instead of seeing it as a temporary space as many do now."

The grand opening of the new Court Street Gallery and the first ever Saginaw Art Market takes place Thursday, September 23rd from 6 to 9 pm in Old Town Saginaw. Booths will be set up  in the block surrounding the gallery along Hancock, Hamilton, and Michigan. Participating businesses include the Red Eye, Bomb Tees, Pasong's Cafe, and Fralia's. For more information on the Court Street Gallery, visit http://courtstreetgallery.com.

© Gina Myers, 2010