Calisma Asafor Atowo is one of the artists participating in the Shaw Holiday Art Market this year. Atowo struggled to find venues for her work during the pandemic and sees the holiday market as a great way to engage with people about art. (Courtesy of Artbox D.C.)

Shaw Holiday Art Market returns for in-person shopping

Shaw’s Art Market was virtual in 2020, but this year residents can expect more direct engagement with artists the day of Dec. 18th.

The Shaw Holiday Art Market returns to in-person shopping this holiday season, leaving artists and organizers optimistic about increased sales for the current holiday season.

Organized in tandem with , an organization that empowers local artists, and Shaw Main Streets, an organization supporting local Shaw businesses, the art market will return for its final day on Dec. 18 at 625 T St. NW.

The market is an off shoot of Art All Night D.C., an art festival that celebrates visual and performing arts throughout the District.

Tia Kane, a member of Artbox DC and organizer of the event, is looking forward to providing a return to norm with COVID vaccines now readily available and people more open to in-person events.

“In the winter months we’re not out as much, so I’m really happy that we’re able to provide an experience at the close of the year that will provide a dynamic experience for the Shaw community,” Kane said.

Kane said Artbox D.C. has had trouble securing artists for some weekends this year, forcing a cancellation of the market on Dec. 11. But Kane expects there will be a plethora of artists at the final weekend, this Saturday, with shoppers eager to get those last-minute gifts.

Alex Padro, head member of Shaw Main Streets, said the local market has been ongoing since 2014, allowing neighbors to stop by and purchase one-of-a-kind pieces from local artists as holiday gifts.

When the pandemic struck, the market went virtual in 2020. Artists were still able to sell their work, but not as much as they would have liked.

With the market returning to in-person shopping, local artist Heda Rose, an expressionist painter, is excited not only for the economic opportunity, but also to engage with her customers directly.

“I missed the interactions, the discussions, seeing the effect that the art has on people,” Rose said.

Heda Rose finds engaging with others in-person over her art to be a more wholesome experience because she can observe the reactions and thoughts of people who view her art.

Heda Rose primarily paints abstract expressionist art. Rose said selling her pieces in-person allows her to engage with her customers about her art. (Courtesy of Heda Rose)

Calisma Asafor Atowo, another local artist, is also looking forward to the market for a similar reason. Atowo believes the market creates an opportunity for people to get to know and meet the artist and experience their work.

“It speaks more to people when they can be a part of something physically. It’s that feeling of just seeing someone and saying, ‘wow I love what you’re doing, and I want to support you,’” Atowo said.

Though artists are optimistic, they’ve also faced stocking issues. Kane said group artists that create murals have struggled to get paint for their projects.

To meet consumer demand in the wake of supply shortages, Rose has shifted to creating apparel and merchandise for her artwork. Though Rose continues to paint, the low cost and availability of apparel makes selling wearable art a more favorable option.

To meet high demand against short supply stocks, Heda Rose has shifted to putting her art on apparel. (Courtesy of Heda Rose)

“People also like art they can wear,” Rose said.

Overall, Padro believes the market, which he expects will be bustling this weekend, will create a great opportunity for artists and customers alike.

“Neighborhood businesses always like things that bring in additional foot traffic to their blocks. Folks also always enjoy finding unique one-of-a-kind gifts for their family and friends,” Padro said.

“This is one of those opportunities to find something they can’t get anywhere else.”

Grace Nardei

Grace currently writes for ҹֱ. She is thrilled to be covering Shaw, U Street, and Logan Circle.

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