Artists Market Blooming In June

    GRAND RAPIDS — Heartside-area businesses and organizations plan to offer the public yet another reason to visit downtown, with an open-air art fair every Saturday all summer.

    The Ionia Street Artist Market will be open for business from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. every Saturday, weather permitting, from June 5 through Aug. 28 at the new Heartside Park on Ionia Street, south of Cherry Street.

    By design, the event kickoff is set for the same weekend as the 2004 Grand Rapids Festival of the Arts, slated for June 4-5.

    “We thought we might be able to grab some traffic from Festival,” said Annamarie Buller, Division Avenue Heartside Mainstreet manager for the Dwelling Place and an event coordinator for the artist market.

    Festival organizers don’t have a problem with that, she said, and may even advertise the artist market in the Festival brochure.

    The artist market is expected to feature various forms of art, such as paintings, photography, pottery, sculpture, crafts, handmade clothing and jewelry, among other items.

    Artists can participate for $5 per event and can reserve space for the whole summer or for a week or two. Buller said spaces won’t be regulated to any particular size, but instead will be allotted according to display needs.

    “We’ll start regulating it if things get out of hand,” she said. “We’re just kind of taking reservations now so we know how many people to expect every week. We may have people who will show up the day of the show and want to set up, and that’s fine with us as long as there’s plenty of room for those who have reserved space.”

    Buller said it’s difficult to predict just how many booth spaces will be needed, but she noted that Heartside Park encompasses three acres, so it can accommodate a lot of people.

    Space also will be reserved for the performing arts, including musicians, dance groups, mimes, jugglers, poets, palm readers and other performers, Buller noted.

    “There’s a little pavilion in the park that’s raised on one side, so it forms the perfect stage. But we have the entire park. The city is giving us the park for a really low rate for the whole summer just as a promotion and to help us out.”

    Performers that volunteer to lead children’s activities will not be required to pay any participation fee. However, those that want to perform on their own during the day will be required to pay $5.

    According to its organizers, the Ionia Street Artist Market “is not a flea market, a garage sale or a political arena.”

    All art must be original and handcrafted, and will be subject to prior approval by event coordinators.

    “This is going to be more of a family-oriented event,” Buller explained. “We need to make sure everything is OK for children’s eyes and ears.”

    That includes performances.

    Sponsors of the weekly event include The Warm Red Dime, Sanctuary Folk Art, Heartside Gallery, the Heartside Mainstreet program and local businesses.

    In exchange for their financial support, the artist market will advertise sponsors on all its posters, T-shirts and related marketing materials.

    As Buller noted, the artist market concept is brand new to the downtown area, so its success will hinge on the people who take an interest in it and are willing to put in some time.

    On top of celebrating the arts and individual creativity, the weekly event is intended to showcase the Heartside area and its businesses, she said.

    “We want to bring people down to this neighborhood and treat them to a wonderful time in this beautiful new park. Just getting people in the community to bond together is a big goal of mine.”

    Interested artists and performers can contact Marnie Suhr at 855-0429 or online at           

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