In a fast-paced world that shows no sign of slowing down, it’s nice to reflect on the past while embracing what is currently being made. For the past four years, Jon Jenkins has been helping people do just that. As the director for the Indie Arts and Vintage Marketplace, it is Jenkins’ job to reach out to local artists, as well as potential customers, to make the event a success.
“It was sort of inspired by similar events that we were seeing in other cities,” Jenkins said. “I run events for a living. I run about thirty shows a year, and live in Indianapolis. I just kind of thought ‘it’s time.’ We’re seeing events in Chicago and New York that kind of have this vibe, and we kind of put an Indiana twist on it a little bit, and now, four years later, here we are.”
The popularity of the fair was evident based on the variety of booths spread out throughout the park and the crowds of people weaving in and out of the tables to discover what the vendors had to offer.
Laura McPhee, owner of Lockerbie Books, was just one of the many vendors set up on Monday. Selling handcrafted journals and notebooks at her booth, McPhee explained why community support is so important to small, local businesses.
“When you buy from a local artist or business, that money stays in the community,” McPhee said. “You could be helping that owner pay rent for that month, and you also build a sense of community. That’s why events like this one are important, it gives small business owners the ability to meet with people in the community and maybe get an idea for the direction of their business, whether they want to start a brick-and-mortar business, or if the path they’re on now is the right fit.”
Walking through the marketplace, visitors were surrounded by booths filled with antiques and contemporary art. This begs the question: why are people so interested in the past?
Autumn Rose, owner of Autumn Rose Designs explained, “they create memories, or at least bring them back.” For the past thirteen years, Rose has been handcrafting jewelry, calling her pieces “treasures made from what other people discard.” For Rose, events like these are not only “a great way for us to not only support local artists and businesses, but also to get a better idea of what people are interested in in the community.”
For growing artists like Elvis Miers, the marketplace provides them with an opportunity to simply display their work. “It helps get our name out there,” Miers, who makes what he calls “rock and roll recycled." “I’ve been doing this fair since the beginning. Jon [Jenkins] saw one of my pieces at the Foo Fighters concert and I got a booth at this year’s show.”
Not only do shows like this marketplace help the artists and vendors, but it has huge benefits for the community as a whole. “It brings the community together, and it gets people out in the park,” Miers said.
Other artists and vendors use events like this one as an opportunity to grow. Joe Valenti, owner of Flower Child, likes community events because of the “instant gratification.”
“When people ask you questions about pieces, and they’re holding it in their hands, there’s no bullshit, because they’re right there in front of you. It’s a good way to test the waters,” Valenti said.
Walking through the crowds of tables and people this past Labor Day, visitors got the feeling that the community was rallying around this event that continues to grow every year.
“We were really lucky,” Jenkins said. “We were the first vintage marketplace in town, and we had great support initially. You can see today, we’ve got a great crowd. I think our community support has been strong since the beginning.”
As vendors use this and similar events to test the waters and see what community members are looking for, it’s important to get an idea of what is popular in the area. Jenkins said that “Indiana art” is something that is not easily defined.
“There’s really a big upswing in people taking things and repurposing. We’re seeing a lot of where vendors are going and taking objects that maybe started out not being sellable in today’s market. By either repainting it, repurposing it, or doing something different to it, they can adapt it into something that’s sellable in today’s market,” Jones said.
By celebrating local artists and treasures from the past, the Indie Arts and Vintage marketplace combined the worlds of vintage and contemporary and brought a community together to celebrate the members who bring culture and revenue back into their local area.