Our borough’s newest outdoor bazaar — The Brooklyn Urban Arts Market — proved that it could weather any storm when its cabanas survived the wind and rain of its opening day in Clinton Hill last month. In fact, the resourceful organizers, vendors, shoppers and musicians of this unique Myrtle Avenue market are determined to return on Aug. 10 with more of the same original, handcrafted wares that set them apart from Kings County’s other flea markets.
“The weather is kind of a bummer, but in terms of the event itself, I think it’s great,” said Meredith Almeida, director of community development at the Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership, as she held two tent poles in place and wiped dripping hair from her face.
The market, produced by the Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership, the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the Afro-Punk Festival, is intended to highlight small businesses and home-based artisans, as well as bring in more foot traffic to the neighborhood. Over 35 vendors converged on July 27 to set up shop on Myrtle Avenue between Grand Avenue and Emerson Place and will return on alternating Saturdays through Sept. 21.
Unlike the sunglasses-and-perfume stalls in Manhattan street fairs or the vintage clothing and furniture at the Brooklyn Flea in Fort Greene, the Urban Arts Market featured a lot of unique and handmade clothing, jewelry and accessories, mostly made by the sellers themselves in their own homes or studios.
Cynthia Williams, whose body product line Kiss My Bubbles is based in her Clinton Hill kitchen, was selling chocolate and vanilla bean body scrubs ($12), grape and soda-pop flavored shower gels ($10) and strawberry-banana yogurt soap ($4) with the berry’s seeds mixed in.
Nearby, Latoya Henry set up her Memory Lane By Toya stall, with an array of picture frames, mirrors and pill boxes covered with collage art of pop culture icons of the past as well as Barack Obama, because, Henry said, “He’ll soon be part of history” anyway.
There was a strong African influence in many of the stalls, since most of the vendors had participated in the annual Afro-Punk Festival for years.
The “conceptual streetwear” company 21MC was selling colorful T-shirts with African motifs (normally $38, on sale for $25 at the market) and Manhattanite Sewra Kidane was selling traditional waist-beads — jewelry for your waist — with a contemporary twist ($30–$60).
Among the other temptations were lots of handmade clothes, such as the crocheted dresses, skirts and purses from Sovereign Garments (clothing, $98-$328; wallets and purses, $18–$150), made by designer Aisha Joseph in her Flatbush studio, and patchwork dresses ($40) made from Ethiopian fabric from Harriet’s Alter Ego, a clothing store on Flatbush Avenue in Prospect Heights.
The Latin restaurant Tamboril was handling the lunch, selling $7-plates of steaming chicken, corn, macaroni and cheese and salad, and The Bakery supplied peanut-butter cookies, apricot tarts and blueberry pie for dessert ($1.50–$3.50).
Although there weren’t a lot of customers at the rainy opening, the ones who made it said they were pleased with the market’s offerings.
“I was really shocked to see so much and so many different things in one place,” said Clinton Hill resident Thelma Fierce, who stumbled onto the market on her way home. “I didn’t have enough money, but I went to the ATM, and now that I know they’re coming back, I’ll be ready.”
Besides the food and the shopping, the market was touting live music. Since DJ Spinna and The Earthman Experience with DJ Hard Hittin Harry got rained out on July 27, the Myrtle Avenue Partnership assured GO Brooklyn that they’ll be back on Aug. 10, along with DJ Bobbito Garcia.
In case of future inclement weather, the organizers will have more sandbags and bungee cords to hold the tents down — and muscle, too.
“The tents are just sort of built like sails, so we’ll just have to be aware and be ready to grab a pole, if there’s a large gust of wind,” Almeida said.
With the beat of live music, the smells wafting from the food vendors, and the brightly colored textiles hanging in the stalls, the Brooklyn Urban Arts Market is going to be hard to miss in the weeks to come.
“I think it’s a great idea,” said Clinton Hill resident Jerri Garcia. “I’ve heard that once a festival is in your neighborhood, you’re really on the map.”
The Brooklyn Urban Arts Market runs from noon to 6 pm on Aug. 10, Aug. 24, Sept. 7 and Sept. 21 on Myrtle Avenue between Grand Avenue and Emerson Place in Clinton Hill. Free. For information, visit www.brooklynurbanartsmarket.ning.com or contact the Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership at (718) 230-1689.