Art Market Set to Open Tonight in Downtown Shopping Mall
Northville Square’s new artists' venue aims to bring artists new economic opportunities, adds interest to vacant space
Shopping malls have not traditionally been known as havens of creativity, but Northville Square is about to change that.
The shopping area, which is co-owned by Margene Buckhave, is opening its first-ever artists’ market tonight as part of the monthly First Friday Experience event. Called LimeLight Emporium, the juried market will initially feature the work of 15 area artists, with plans to eventually add many more, said Buckhave.
“Though we’re starting out with 15 artists, we’d like to see 40 or 50,” she said. “It’s something we’re committed to seeing grow.”
The space will take up about 2,200 square feet at the mall, but there is room to expand, Buckhave said. Down the road, she added, there may be studio space for the artists to rent. That would also allow passersby to watch the artists at work.
Conceived as a way to fill available space at the mall and create an affordable pathway for artists to market and sell their work, LimeLight Emporium is another way for local business to invigorate Northville’s art scene and bring artists to the community, Buckhave added.
“It’s important to bring artists an opportunity to sell their work,” she said. “The way the market is set up, people will be working [on-site], so artists can spend more of their time being creative. And the spaces can be either very large or small, depending on what they’re selling.”
Buckhave said that most spaces are running between $80 and $240 per month, which covers the cost of operating the space.
The market, which was still being set up at Northville Square Thursday afternoon, will feature the work of local painters, soap makers, jewelry makers, folk artists and photographers, to name a few. Though Southeast Michigan has a huge creative community from which to draw from, finding artists was no easy task.
Buckhave and an associate attended many art fairs and events over the past spring and summer to recruit artists and let them know about the upcoming market. Many already had their show schedule in place, making it difficult for them to commit to a market, Buckhave said.
Still, she said artist availability is likely to increase over time, especially when the market proves it is a positive economic component for artists. Buckhave added that many artists are experiencing, quite acutely, the economic downturn.
“Some of them have lost jobs, and depend on their art,” she said.
The Northville Square building was constructed in 1973, but housed a private business for several years. The artist’s market, however, is the latest change for the mall since Buckhave and her husband, Bob, acquired it in 2005.
“We opened it not only to retailers, but also to offices and restaurants,” she said.
Joan Potter Thomas of the Northville Art House said the new artist’s market is another chance to expose residents and shoppers to handmade items.
“I think it’s great,” she said. “The more opportunities for artists to sell and exhibit their work is all the better. It not only provides a place for artists to display their work, but it gives the business community another way to entice people to come downtown.”
Jennifer Goulet, the president of ArtServe Michigan, said art spaces are becoming more common in malls and other commercial settings.
"The business community is really beginning to engage the artistic community," she said. "We're seeing more art, particularly at malls and smaller downtown storefronts, in part because space [costs] somewhat less than it used to. And because businesses realize art adds a lot of value."
For Buckhave – who has a creative flair of her own and is also the owner of Stampeddler, a scrapbooking retailer at Center Street and Dunlap – the market is a grand experiment for which she has high hopes.
“I think we needed to do something different,” she said. “We need to be as creative as the people making the art."
At the grand opening, local artist Patti Kay, who reproduces vintage Detroit train scrolls will be the guest artist.