While roaming the streets of the Art District in Los Angeles you are sure to come across many sporadically placed artistic gems. Coffee shops and graffiti art linger around nearly every corner. Industrial warehouses juxtapose sky-high portraits painted on brick and concrete walls. And down one unsuspecting alley in the heart of the district, there is a warehouse flea market that packs a mean artistic punch.
Arts District Flea Market is a new tradition to the Los Angeles area. Located at 453 Colyton St. the market is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday through Sunday weekly. Vendors offer various goods from repurposed jewelry and art, to handmade candles, tea and more. Retail booths alternate each week with a flux of new and permanent vendors.
These vendors can usually be seen working on projects and talking amongst themselves while waiting for the next wave of unsuspecting visitors to stroll in. Throughout the alley music was playing and everyone seemed to be moving at a slow and relaxed pace, a welcome change from the usual Los Angeles rush.
Event coordinator Michael Hope is the first to arrive at the mart each weekend. He opens the tall warehouse doors and works to organize that weeks’ sellers into an interesting retail flow from entrance to exit.
“It’s a philanthropic idea,” Hope said of the mart. “We created a garden, planted some seeds and let others plant seeds. We want to see what will grow from it.”
Hope said while sitting atop a picnic table outside the warehouse, that the idea was for the mart to be somewhere where “someone could have their own retail shop without having a brick and mortar location.”
Hope said that he envisions the mart becoming a California tradition that will be opening its doors years from now. He celebrates the market as a venue for online merchants to step out from the virtual retail world and into a vibrant social setting.
“Online stores can have a public outlet here,” Hope said calling the mart “a mall without walls.”
For vendor Jack Frysztak, a native of Poland, the mart is his sole retail location aside from online sales.
“It’s my favorite place in the world,” Frysztak said. “There is an amazing vibe, I have always wanted to have a candle company.”
Using his collection of 180 fragrances he mixes and matches scents to create complex combinations. His candles are made of soy based ingredients that can be put onto the skin after being melted to add a subtle, aromatic scent.
Art district attendee Luis Valdovinos slowly pushed his stroller through the mart while quietly observing the many screen prints, paintings and graffiti installations that grace the walls of the airy warehouse. For him it is more of a visual experience than a shopping excursion.
“I like looking at all the art and the fact that it is so eclectic,” Valdovinos said. “There’s a little of everything.”
Julie Aronoff maintains a steady presence at the weekly event with her in-house portrait painting business. Aronoff creates commissioned portraits of people and animals from photos or live models. Her expressive and drippy oil paint style exudes an individualized emotion through each piece.
“I’ve always leaned towards portraits. I love capturing people’s energy and essence,” Aronoff said of the Arts District Flea. “I really like being here, I’ve never had – or it seems like it’s been a million years since I’ve had – a steady job. So this is some real structure for me.”
Vendor and fashion blogger, Jessica Reveles, can be found standing behind her compact booth of hypoallergenic and vintage jewelry. She is passionate about her work and proud to discuss it with people passing by.
“I really like to customize pieces to people’s own style and personality,” Reveles said. “There’s a great vibe and the people are truly artisans.”
With each booth varying extensively from one to the next, there is one overpowering common factor: artisans. People here are passionate about what they are creating and selling. It is not only a place for them to make money, but a social haven that embraces and encourages creativity and artistic entrepreneurialism.
“It’s an art project inside and out,” Hope said proudly. He said the collaborative event was created “organically” and holds true to their celebrated motto to “discover, connect, share.”
For more information on visiting or selling at the Arts District Flea in Los Angeles go to artsdistrictflea.com