Riverside Arts Market: Spotlight on Artists
Photos and video by Emily Gilmore
Nestled in an incongruous setting underneath the Fuller Warren bridge lies the bustling Riverside Arts Market. Monday through Friday this space is a parking lot for the employees of the many financial institutions that occupy the surrounding buildings. But on Saturday mornings, it seems as though all of the historic neighborhood of Riverside ventures out to buy local produce, plants, baked goods, art, food, and gifts at the market.
While the vendors are plentiful and varied, there are some that stand out. Emalee Biastre is the artist behind EB Jewelry. Biastre says she began making jewelry in high school and sold her first pair of earrings on a bus. Her first collection of earrings started with a clay base topped with photographs (often of nature) from National Geographic or Biastre’s own photography. As she’s matured, so has her style. Her most recent earrings feature silver beaded tendrils and elegant curves. Biastre has sold on her website in the past, but for now she sticks to selling at the market.
Exemplifying the variety of unique experiences at the market is Petal and Stone, a business that offers customers a chance to assemble their own bouquets.
Sonja Sorenson started Petal and Stone because of her own inability to keep plants alive. “My husband would say ‘Sonja, don’t bring any more plants home,’” she laughed.
Her range of air plants in various containers was also propelled by her lack of a green thumb. Sonja is passionate about selling at the market and it shows in her interactions with customers. “I love having the ladies who are nervous taking a plant home and come back to me later and say ‘I can’t believe it’s still alive!’”
Ebru Bayou is another interactive experience market goers may take part in. This vendor, however, specializes in art rather than plants. By using a Turkish water marbling technique known as Ebru, customers can hand dye their own silk scarves. By making patterns with paint in water, the customer becomes an artist. They then lay their scarf on top of the water for approximately 90 seconds, then lift it up carefully. The design is then transferred onto the silk and the scarf is hung up to dry.
“It was the first time I felt successful as an artist,” business owner Jennifer said while explaining her passion for bringing this experience to people.”Everybody gets to feel like an artist so I enjoy bringing it out and letting people try it.”
Due to the interactive nature of Ebru Bayou, markets are their target selling place. They hope to branch out into parties. “Corporate parties, bachelorette parties, girl’s night out, is what we’d really like to do.”
Finally, a booth near the food trucks captures passerby’s interests with its dainty teacups overflowing with lush succulents and cacti. Miranda Lang of Succulent Strong repurposes old cups by drilling holes in the bottoms and selling them filled with succulents such as echeveria and haworthia. Lang is a wedding florist in addition to a succulent curator.
She sells her creations online, but enjoys selling at markets. “It’s a lot, definitely a lot more work than I ever thought. You know, you’re setting up a storefront,” Miranda says. “But it’s really fun. You get to connect with people.”
Riverside Arts Market is sponsored by Riverside Avondale Preservation. The market attracts 4,000 people every Saturday, their website claims.
Riverside Arts Market:
Every Saturday 10am-3pm
715 Riverside Ave
Jacksonville, FL 32204
Vendor Contact Information:
Petal and Stone