If your holiday gift list includes unique stained glass work, organic beeswax candles and Reiki treatments, you probably don't expect one-stop shopping.
Delightful news for you then, because you can cross them off in one fell swoop at the Savannah Bazaar, an outdoor art market that will flourish its tents in the courtyard of Southern Pine Co. this Saturday, Nov. 16.
A "bazaar" denotes a certain element of the exotic, a place to find unconventional novelties and unexpected treasures. It also bespeaks a creative nexus, where artists and craftspeople can commune and support each other in a vibrant microeconomy.
The former may be the inevitable result of inviting Savannah's many talented and avant garde artisans to sell their wares, but the latter is what sparked Savannah Bazaar co-founders Tyler Cuttita, Melissa Hagerty and Lauren Schwind to galvanize in the first place.
"Events and shows can be expensive to organize, especially if you're already putting money into your craft," says Schwind, a visual artist and illustrator dissatisfied with the formal gallery system.
"We wanted to provide more accessible platform for artists to promote their work."
Vendors pay $20 for a table at the Bazaar, exposing them to flocks of potential patrons. Southern Pine Co. donates the courtyard space, which allows the Bazaar to contribute half of the fees it collects back to Southern Pine's Greenhouse Project. Supported and funded by the sustainability non-profit Emergent Structures, the greenhouse brings together artisans, activists and neighbors and the Bazaar organizers view it as all part of the Bazaar philosophy.
"We see ourselves as part of the community as whole," says Cutitta. "It really is all walks of life."
The Bazaar has also forged partnerships with other conscious creators and hosts a pop-up shop at Anahata Healing Arts during the First Friday Art Marches. The event at Southern Pine is currently monthly, but Schwind envisions a weekly happening and eventually even a permanent artisan retail space, à la City Market.
From Humble Love's vegan snacks to 13 Bricks' sustainable t-shirts to poets, drummers and mystics, all are welcome under the Bazaar umbrella.
Cuttita, a lanky musician who can often be seen working the streets on a pedicab, sees the diverse line-up as a way for artists all of stripes "to have a chance to realize their value and build a community of art and music."
He plays in the funkadelic local bands Omingnome and Yonahbug with the throaty-voiced Hagerty, who laments the brain drain that happens when SCAD graduates and other talent leave the city because they can't make a living.
"It can be hard to keep the art community thriving here, and we want there to be a place to nurture it and help it grow," says Hagerty.
"We're trying to keep the genius in Savannah."
Few appreciate that sentiment more than Jillian Knight-Miner, who makes and sells leather journals, original poetry and corn brooms under the nom de plume Lady of Letters. She and her husband, Vinson Miner, and their young daughter, Kegan, spend three to four months out of the year travelling to different craft shows and history fairs known as Rendezvous to augment their incomes. The Bazaar is a welcome opportunity to stay at home and save gas money.
It's also a chance to meet other local artists. Though the couple has lived in Savannah since 2006, it's been difficult to find a like-minded professional network because they're always travelling or replenishing their stock.
"The coolest part of doing a local show is getting to meet other local artists," says Knight-Miner. "Mostly, we're all just too busy working in our workshops!"
Vinson, a bow-and-arrow maker who vends hand-flinted stone knives as well as sharks' teeth and fossils he dives for in the Savannah River, also digs how goods and services circulate through the Bazaar community.
"Sometimes I sell to other jewelers, who will take a tooth and wrap it in metal to make a piece and sell it later," he relates. "We've also done some very cool trades, which helps everyone."
This spirit of reciprocity is appreciated especially by Cuttita, who came to mellow Savannah from the high-stakes creative climate of Brooklyn.
"In New York, people don't work together, it's all competition," observes Cuttita. "Here it's much more supportive."
His co-conspirators agree.
"I like the term 'symbiotic relationships'," muses Haggerty.
"We're all figuring out what our strengths are and finding a way not to compete, but collaborate."