Somerville is home to hundreds of artists and one of its fastest-growing neighborhoods, Assembly Row, is tapping into that vibrant community with a new market debuting this summer. Assembled: The Handmade Arts Market at Assembly Row will launch on May 18 and feature handmade goods from New England artists on most Saturdays through September 21 when the season wraps up with Riverfest.
Andrea Simpson, the director of marketing and tourism/corporate communications for Assembly Row, hopes the market will “bring people from all over the region to Assembly Row and celebrate that Somerville is known for its arts.”
The first Assembled market and many that follow will feature a lot of Boston Etsy artists, a project that was spearheaded by Dara Cheek, a local jeweler and Boston Etsy team leader. Cheek has been participating in artists’ markets for years and dreamed of having one focused on the local Etsy community, so Assembled seemed like a natural fit.
“It’s like a live version of Etsy. You can see items in person and talk to the person that made them. You can try things on and touch them, you don’t get to do with the website,” Cheek said. “The goal is really diversity. My ideal scenario is that someone shows up at the show not really knowing if they need something and ends up finding something they can’t leave without.”
Assembled attendees can expect to find unique items, like Cheek’s own mini-terrarium necklaces, as well as hand-blown glass work, traditional Mexican pottery items, handcrafted textiles and much more. And while the market is filling up, there are still some open vendor spots available for artists interested in participating. The application can be found here.
At the first Assembled market on May 18, there will be a special workshop dedicated to teaching local artists the ins and outs of making a successful Etsy shop. Cheek said that it will be a great resource for those with Etsy shops who are looking to improve them as well as people who are just starting to consider opening an Etsy shop.
“It’s going to be so much fun. I’m excited about it,” Cheek said.
In addition to the arts and crafts market, Assembled will host food trucks like Bon Me, Grilled Cheese Nation and Frozen Hoagies, among others. There will also be live music during the event, which runs from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. and is free to attend.
“This is a huge home run for Assembly Row,” Simpson said. She added that the Mystic River waterfront area currently being developed should be ready to open sometime in July, creating another reason for people to come to this growing area of Somerville.
Assembled will conclude on September 21 with Riverfest, which began last year and was attended by more than 5,000 people.
“There’s something for everyone to enjoy,” Simpson said. “This is the first year of many years to come. It will be a fantastic community event that continues to grow.”
And this focus on the local arts community isn’t just limited to the Assembled markets happening this summer. The development at Assembly Row has concentrated on incorporating the arts in many different ways. Three massive steel trusses taken from an old factory that was on the Assembly Row site have been re-imagined as gateways to the forthcoming waterfront area.
“They are a nod to the past and a wink to the future,” Simpson said. “They are honoring those who came before us as well as those who are going to enjoy the park in the future.”
Cheek agreed, adding “I asked representatives from Assembly Row what the intention was and they would like this to be an arts-centric destination. They want to honor artists and incorporate artists into the architecture and have public art and provide opportunities for artists. Often with local shows they’re kind of a one-off thing, for Assembly Row, it’s going to be continuing and incorporated into this destination.”
Assembled Arts Market
Open most Saturdays from May 18 to September 21 from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Free and open to the public
Terrarium image courtesy of Dara Cheek.