A little of this and that

April 05, 2007|By Christina Lee | Christina Lee,Sun reporter

Baltimore's arts and entertainment district's flea market is getting ready to open for business again.

Starting Saturday, a parking lot opposite the Charles Theatre will be transformed into a one-stop shopping area for vintage clothing, jewelry, art and knickknacks. More than 50 vendors will participate in the Station North Flea Market every first Saturday of the month through October.

Street performers and a DJ will entertain patrons as they shop.

Maryland Institute College of Art teacher Sherwin Mark started the flea market last year

Mark saw that his students, among others, were accumulating a lot of junk in the school's basement. Much of this, Mark discovered, were works of art that could enhance the potential of the developing Station North district.

The flea market "brings cultural diversity to the area," Mark said. "It brings a lot of opportunity for local artists to be able to expose their craft to the people. But most of all, it makes Station North a viable community."

Station North, which is 25 square blocks of arts and entertainment institutions, was designated as the city's arts district in 2002. It is home to MICA, Schuler School of Art and Design, Load of Fun and Charles Theatre, among other establishments. The district also hosts 397 artists as of last year, according to Load of Fun's Web site.

After he founded the arts exhibition space Load of Fun Studio in 2004, Mark began working on this idea for a one-of-a-kind yard sale, which would become part of Station North's developing "cultural landscape." Last year, he enlisted 25-30 other Baltimore vendors and a number of street performers, and salvaged the college's leftover watercolors, photography and even works made from recycled trash. This year, he expects about 60 vendors.

This flea market is unique not just because of the goods, said Joelle Kutsiukis, this year's manager. It became a community effort when the Charles North Community Association, the district's neighborhood organization, donated the space so that ultimately, vendors do not have to pay space fees.

"With that generosity, then we can really fly," she said.

As the former owner of the Hampden retro and vintage clothing and accessory shop Galvanize, Kutsiukis is used to providing funky and quirky fashion to Baltimore. Still, she says, managing every aspect of the flea market is new to her.

"It is like conducting a symphony with an orchestra from all over the world that you have never worked with before," she said.

While Kutsiukis was inspired by the flea markets of Georgetown, Mark has a grander image of the market's potential.

With the use of two additional parking lots, he hopes that the market will soon be made of designated venues of "half-old" items, decorative clothes and jewelry, expanding around the North Charles Street neighborhood.

This shopping experience, he said, could be likened to that of Paris, or as Kutsiukis called it, "organized chaos." No matter what it resembles though, Kutsiukus says that Baltimore residents needed the flea market to reappear.

"Downtown Baltimore and the district is ready for something like this," she said.

Station North Flea Market will be at the parking lot across from the Charles Theatre, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday and continuing each first Saturday until October. For more information, e-mail info@loadoffun.net or visit loadoffun.net.


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