Looking for something fun to do on a Saturday morning? Thinking about going to a darty? Tempting as it is, NOLA has so much more to offer. Instead, you might want to consider checking out an art market.
On the last Saturday of every month, you can take the St. Charles streetcar to its last stop and visit Arts Market New Orleans in Palmer Park at the corner of South Carrollton and South Claiborne Avenues. The market, presented by the New Orleans Arts Council, was started in 2004 by Wendy Laker in City Park. Three years later, the Arts Market was moved to Palmer Park because it was displaced by Voodoo Fest, but the new location ended up providing “higher visibility, street car access, and very engaged neighbors who wanted to see the Market succeed,” according to current manager Gene Meneray.
The 75 to 135 local and regional artists who participate in the Arts Market New Orleans submit portfolios and apply online. Meneray says each month “a jury made up of current Arts Market artists and staff of the Crafts Guild review the applications, and votes yes or no,” making this the longest running juried art market in the city. The Arts Market features a wide variety of artists, ranging from glassblowers (Juli Juneau), to painters (Megan Barnes) and printmakers (Maggie Covert LeBlanc). Also featured are soap makers, jewelry makers, potters, photographers and a wide range of other creative artisans. Despite their stylistic differences, what all of these artists have in common is their deep passion for both art and the city of New Orleans. “The role of art in my life in NOLA has always been at the forefront…I continue to strive to make our city look the best it can and to keep the culture alive in my work,” says printmaker Maggie Covert LeBlanc.
The Arts Market provides a perfect opportunity for Tulane students to dabble in art because of its accessibility, diversity and affordability. “Whether you are just starting to learn about different types of art, glass, painting, woodwork, pottery, jewelry, or photography or if you may already be a connoisseur and have an nice art collection,” says glassblower Juli Juneau, “everyone can find something unique at Palmer Park.”
Manager Gene Meneray elaborated on the diversity not only of the types of craft, but also the elements of artistry: “My favorite things about the New Orleans art scene are its diversity, where you have American elements, Caribbean, African, Swamp like magic realism, and overall the work is very vibrant, warm, and eschews the cold cynicism often found in other cities.“
Arts Market New Orleans is also uniquely personal. Customers have the opportunity to interact with the artists in an open-air environment and learn more about what they do, or even commision a personalized work of art. Many artists chose to sell their work in Palmer Park because of the profoundly human connection between the artists and their customers. Arts Market artist Juli Juneau, who has enjoyed international success, emphasizes this connection as a reason she enjoys selling in Palmer Park. “I love the galleries that sell my work,” says Juneau, “but I also need to be able to interact with clients myself.”
Although the Arts Market originated as a low-profile gathering, it has grown into a well-known and established undertaking while maintaining its affordability and relaxed environment. It now attracts artists like Megan Barnes, who revealed that “selling at Palmer Park was a dream of [hers] when [she] first began painting. It’s a well curated market that has a local following.” This is integral to the success of Arts Market New Orleans, with its art, food and music. It’s a microcosm of New Orleans culture. Barnes couldn’t agree more: “Our food, our music, our language, our architecture, and our visual arts all combine to create the unique culture of this great city.”