Art markets are a summer staple across the Ocean State, promising the thrill of an irresistible one-of-a-kind find for shoppers as well as providing an outlet for creatives to network, learn from their community, and grow their reach. Whether vending or
visiting one of the many regularly appearing events across Rhode Island this season, Field of Artisans founder Katrina Momenee advises: “Ask a question!” It could spark a conversation that inspires someone on either side of the table.
Field of Artisans started as a weekly summer market at South Kingstown’s Matunuck Beach. “South County is the heart of our organization,” Momenee says. “The beach is blissful, and the best part is that vendors can jump in the ocean at the end of the market.”
An artist herself, Momenee founded Field of Artisans in 2015 when she returned home to Rhode Island after a brief stint in New York. She sold pieces from her own line of accessories at New York City markets, but quickly realized the same type of selling opportunities weren’t available to artists in Rhode Island. “There were big markets,” Momenee said, “but not a consistent weekly thing for artists looking for exposure.”
But as vendors began to turn their creative practice into full-time careers, the market grew to match their needs. “Artists need more than a summer or weekend platform, so we added weekday dates to our schedule and pop up year-round,” Momenee explains.
New venues now include breweries, the South County Museum, and the Michael S. Van Leesten Memorial Bridge in Providence. Last year, the organization breathed new life into the 56-year-old General’s Market, which takes place at The General Stanton Inn in Charlestown. “That’s our only market that includes mindfully collected vintage and antique items, so it’s a whole different vibe,” Momenee explains.
Katie Vacca, a Westerly-based botanical artist and founder of erba, a line of energy cleansing products, regularly vends at the General’s Market. Vacca says she’s particularly impressed by the way Momenee curates each market to match the energy of its venue, but the opportunity for connection is what keeps her coming back. “I’ve grown to thrive off the connections I make with customers at the art market,” she says. “It’s important that I be there to put a face to my product, but it’s also inspiring to see how my work impacts someone else’s life.”
A relative newcomer on the art market scene is Providence-based Anti-Robot Club’s Marketplace, founded and curated by local artist and musician Spocka Summa. The art market is just one of the projects Summa runs under the platform. “The Anti-Robot Club is not against technology,” Summa explains. “It’s against the idea of people not thinking for themselves or being present. I created a market under that platform to let people meet in person, network in person, share experiences in person, and present their artwork to the community.”
Anti-Robot Club’s Marketplace has a community-centered philosophy that less-seasoned vendors find welcoming. “I try to keep [the curation] organic and not too juried,” Summa says. “Everybody has to start somewhere.” For many artists, Anti-Robot Club’s Marketplace serves as that somewhere. Summa can schedule up to 125 vendors at his market, and reserves about 40 of those spaces for newbies.
Dorian “D” Epps, founder of clothing shop Blacktop Market, says that Summa’s marketplace is the perfect spot for newcomers. “If you’re just getting onto the scene, you’ll be able to see other products, learn from other vendors, and figure out what you’re doing well and what you could be doing better,” he says. “Seeing other people’s work has helped me define my identity and figure out how to distinguish myself as a creative.”
“Marketplace vendors draw inspiration from each other,” Summa says. “To create art, you have to have a sense of vulnerability, and we put out the message that everyone has a chance. That’s what sets us apart.”
Epps says the group of vendors at the marketplace is like a family. “It happens in such a beautiful space, and so many beautiful people are there to share advice and their time and their talent. Everyone wants to see everyone else succeed. Spocka created something special in Providence. He helped my business grow and he helped me grow as a creative. And I don’t have any issue with giving him his flowers.”
An annual summer sendoff at the beautiful waterside Crescent Park in Riverside, the Looff Arts Festival in August is run by the East Providence Arts Council, whose mission is to promote the arts across the city. “It’s the perfect place for people from all over the state to come enjoy some great music, some fine food and some fine arts,” says chairman of the council David O’Connell.
This year, in addition to food trucks and artists, there will be five performers on the main stage: Superchief Trio, Down City Band, Hit Rewind, Roger Cerisi’s All Starz, and Liquid
Courage. In the gazebo, local man-about-town Rich Watrous will host folk musicians planning to perform at the RI Folk Festival, which happens two weeks after The Looff. “I love music and am fascinated by people who can play,” says O’Connell. “I can’t play a note.”
But he can use art to bring people together. “The people on our board are artists, so we realize the value of the arts. And we understand that making art is their business, so we want to give them a nice venue to sell their work.”
Joseph Mushipi is a sculptor and painter who moved to the US from Zambia in 2021. “My first experience with The Looff was amazing,”
he says. “I come from a small country where we don’t have big festivals like that.”
Mushipi shares that he owes his growth as a small business owner entirely to art markets, where he sets up what he jokingly refers to as his mobile gallery. “As an artist, I create art for people, and those people like meeting the artist. I’ve found that once they hear my stories and hear about my life, they end up buying my art because of our conversation.”
O’Connell isn’t surprised that Mushipi’s success is driven, in part, by that connection. “Art is part of being human,” he says. “It makes it nice to be alive.”
This monthly event encourages creatives and shoppers to connect IRL, featuring upcycled clothing, illustrators, ceramicists, and sculptors. Third Saturdays (August 19) at Farm Fresh RI, Providence, Anti-RobotClub.com
Local artisans gather on the grounds of the Fayerweather House once a month for the craft fair. August 19, Kingston, FayerweatherCraftGuild.com
This thoughtfully curated weekly art market takes place at several locations throughout the state. Find weavers, illustrators, ceramicists, and paper artists popping up at the following spots this summer. FieldOfArtisans.com
Tuesdays: Whalers Brewing Company, Peace Dale
Saturdays: South Kingstown Town Beach
Sundays: The General Stanton Inn, Charlestown
August 25: Narragansett Brewery, Providence
This weekly vintage and indie maker market pops up outside during the summer months with vintage clothing, food, botanicals, and upcycled crafts. ProvidenceFlea.com
Sundays through September: 10am-3pm,
275 South Water Street
August 18: 5:30-9:30pm, Farm Fresh RI Market Hall
Now in its ninth year this weekly market run by painter Mike Bryce sets up alongside the Hope Street Farmers Market. Find textiles, fine art, jewelry, and upcycled crafts. Saturdays at Lippitt Park, Facebook: Providence Artisans Market
Recurring bimonthly, this spotlight on Steel Yard resident artists and makers includes handmade industrial art pieces, art demos, studio tours, and more. September 9, Providence, TheSteelYard.org
Visit the temporary display of colorful umbrellas suspended above the air at Brick Marketplace through October 5, with music, craft fairs, and art shows on select dates throughout the season. Newport, BrickMarketNewport.com
Art Night Bristol Warren: Visit open studios and galleries at this monthly event and get to know local artists and their work. August 31, various Bristol/Warren locations, ArtNightBristolWarren.org
Gallery Night Providence: Creative spaces open their doors to the public for a guided walking or trolley tour giving access to some of Providence’s hottest art spots. Third Thursdays (August 17), departing from The Graduate, GalleryNight.org
OPEN STUDIO TOURS: Download an app or pick up their brochure map before setting out on a drive around the coastal towns of Tiverton, Little Compton, Westport, and Dartmouth to experience studios in all media. August 19-20, SouthCoastArtists.org
Westerly Arts Crawl: Get to know the coastal town’s thriving arts scene by following the yellow signs to studios, galleries, and even public art sculptures and murals. First Fridays (August 4), various Westerly locations, AnnieWildey.com
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