Tracy Carlson lets out a long sigh when I ask her how many art markets she's been a part of, as one does when pondering the infinite. Dozens, maybe, over her decade-long career as a photographer? Hundreds? And they aren't all created equal.
"I've done markets run by people who don't know anything about art markets and they're a disaster," she says with a laugh. "You don't do an outdoor market in Houston with no shade in July."
Partnering with Sonja Fulbright of Crush Design Co., Carlson decided to turn her experience into a new event that would benefit both local artists and a charitable organization she's passionate about. Heartmade Art Market debuted in 2016 as part of Art Blocks Houston's Big Bash, and it returns on April 1 as its own standalone event at Main Street Square.
This year's market boasts over 40 participating artists and other makers, plus music by DJ III-Set, interactive art, a kid zone with arts and crafts, free cotton candy from LushPuff and other live performances. With Houston's Downtown District onboard to supply the location, 100 percent of sales support the artists, and 100 percent of the booth fees are being donated to Hoof Prints and Heart Beats, an organization that provides free equine therapy to kids and adults.
Carlson spent a lot of time focusing on getting the logistics right, supplying tents, tables, easy loading and unloading options and plenty of support for the participating artists—mindful of all the little things that make her life better as a vendor—and it paid off. "The cool thing is we have a bunch of artists that I've personally never seen at a market before. We didn't want to be just WHAM or Pop Shop but downtown. I want to see things that are different," she says.
Among the finds will be Houston-centric cards by Anvil Cards, wooden home accessories by furniture-maker Garman Furniture, cheeky terracotta pottery by Wyatt Little, contemporary jewelry by Brenda Grands Design, men's shoes from Moo-Chilla and handbags by Ceibo, not to mention art prints, screen-printed T-shirts, toys, candles, spray paint art and more.
"We tried to have something for everybody," says Carlson.
Heartmade Art Market takes place April 1, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. at Main Street Square, the pedestrian corridor at the intersection of Main and McKinney. Admission is free.