Throughout the pandemic, the Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance has worked to provide opportunities for local artists—one of the hardest hit industries. Now, with Arizona’s COVID cases nearing their third straight month of decline, SAACA is hosting their largest event since quarantine began more than a year ago.
What was previously known as the Spring Festival of the Arts has been retitled to the Spring Artisan Market to reflect this year’s reduced capacity and narrower focus. Hosted by SAACA, the spring art sale typically sees more than 160 artists and 30,000 attendees over the course of a weekend. But this year, the event will be reduced to only 30% of the Oro Valley Marketplace’s capacity, and include 50 artists and exhibitors.
However, the event’s central draw stays the same: the community can stroll through pavilions filled with local art ranging from paintings to sculptures to ceramics to jewelry and more. The event will also have food trucks, an information booth and music. Beyond purchasing art, the marketplace provides an opportunity for locals to discuss the artworks with the artisans.
“It’s an opportunity that is so needed right now, for artists to be able to showcase, present and sell their work,” said SAACA executive director Kate Marquez. “Our organization has a long history with Oro Valley, and a lot of our support is from that area. So we have a lot of people who follow the individual artists and they come to visit them at these festivals. It really is meaningful to them to be able to start selling again and making a living.”
Marquez says the artists who participate in these types of shows are not simply hobby artists, but often make their entire livings through selling their work. The participants often travel interstate to sell their works at other similar festivals, sometimes going to dozens of artisan events throughout the country each year, almost all of which were cancelled in 2020.
“You think of a visual artist, and that can be done anywhere, in their home and then sold on Etsy,” Marquez said. “But the more typical profile of an artisan selling in a festival is dealing more with volume sales. The work they sell needs to have that personal connection to it. What’s great about all of these festivals is that you get to meet the artist, which isn’t usually the case a lot of times when people purchase art. So now they’re to be able to have an opportunity to tell about their passionate work that they’re creating, and also being able to interact again with their base of support.”
Because of the reduced capacity, there will be far fewer interstate artists at this event. SAACA estimates 70% of the exhibiting artists are from Southern Arizona, 30% of the artists are from the rest of the state, and perhaps only one or two from New Mexico or California.
Participating artists include Alan Potter Ceramics, Melicia Phillips/Sonoran Sky Jewelry, Lupitas Metal Art, Melrose Macrame, CopperAnza Furnishings, 3D Wire Art, Twisted Beeswax Candles, Alan Magazine Photography and dozens more.
Beyond the artists, the event will have “strolling performances” of acoustic music to avoid people clustering around a stage, and instead of the typical interactive art tent, there will be free “grab-and-go” art activities for all ages.
In addition to reduced capacity at this outdoor event, social distancing, extra sanitization, distance between booths, and face masks will be enforced for market attendees and vendors alike. This event is hosted by SAACA in partnership with the Town of Oro Valley and the Oro Valley Marketplace.
“Our number one priority during this time has been providing new opportunities for artists, whether that’s music, performing arts, visual artists going digital—any opportunity we can for them,” Marquez said. “And we plan to continue that theme throughout the next several years.”
Spring Artisan Market
Saturday, March 27 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday, March 28 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
At the Oro Valley Marketplace, 12155 N. Oracle Road