Mart for Art’s Sake: ‘Direct sales to art lovers are such a benefit’

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Courtesy of Emma Fick

Emma Fick works primarily in watercolor and ink on paper.

Uptown resident and artist Emma Fick will be showing her work at the two-day holiday Arts Market on Saturday (Dec. 17) and Sunday (Dec. 18) in Marsalis Harmony Park. 

These holiday markets are special, said Fick, a veteran of the Arts Markets scene. There are usually many more artists participating, so it feels like a village. And because they run for two days instead of just Saturday, the booths do not have to be broken down at the end of the first day, so the artists take more time and effort to create their own atmosphere and a look that is not feasible for a one-day, six hour market.

“I, myself, like to walk around and take it all in,” Fick said. 

The market has helped her expand her client base. “It has allowed me to connect directly with buyers at all levels of price points. I feel that I can reach people who might never go to a gallery, but the ‘open-air shops’ are inviting,” she said. “Direct sales to art lovers are such a benefit, and it helps us all to make it as an artist.” 

India Mack, the Arts Market manager, also said that making art more accessible is a major benefit to both artists and patrons. “The Arts New Orleans’ Arts Markets are important because it gives New Orleans and Gulf-based artists an opportunity to share their artwork with patrons who otherwise may not see their work,” she said. “It gives attendees the opportunity to view and purchase one-of-a-kind artwork for themselves or the people they love.”

Courtesy of Emma Fick

Vessels are a recurring image in Fick’s work.

Fick has been an Arts Market vendor for about five years. She started out selling her work at the Frenchmen Street night market. Some of the artists there talked about the Arts Council of New Orleans (now called Arts New Orleans) market. “They all said that it was the best one, so I decided to apply,” she said, “and I got in.”

Fick originally started out studying literature, and that led to a Fulbright fellowship in Serbia. While she was there, she started painting what she calls “cultural illustrations.” This caught the attention of the U.S. Embassy, and she successfully applied for a grant to teach her skill to others. And once she came back home, she kept on with her artwork. 

Fick — who can be found at and @emma_fick_art on Instagram —  creates watercolor paintings, wearable art and watercolor illustrations. “I still do what I call ‘cultural illustrations’ here in New Orleans,” Fick said. She has more recently ventured into making earrings, an art market favorite, from hand-painted Baltic birch wood with laser cut designs. 

Courtesy of Emma Fick

Fick’s earrings are made from hand-painted Baltic birch wood with laser cut designs.

Fick regularly shows at the Marsalis Harmony Park location and sometimes in the Mid-City location in City Park’s Goldring/Woldenberg Great Lawn. In fact, she had planned to be there last Sunday before it got rained out. She feels that both locations have a character particular to the site. 

While the City Park market is more spacious, the Uptown feels more cosy and crowded, she said. There are more regulars at the Marsalis Harmony Park and more passers-by in City Park. People are out exercising or visiting other attractions in City Park and happen upon the Arts Market. 

Not all tourists are just passing by, Fick has learned. “Interestingly enough, I find that many out-of-towners have searched for arts markets on the Internet and have these as a destination,” she said. “They come on purpose, and they have made an effort to find us.” 

She goes on to say: “The Arts Markets uphold the cultural scene in New Orleans, and make the logistics of selling work possible.” 

Now in its fourth decade, Arts New Orleans is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting arts and culture in the city. This includes presenting a twice-monthly Arts Market in Mid-City (second Saturday of the month) and Uptown in Marsalis Harmony Park. The latter is held the last Saturday of every month, except the months of November and December, when there are two-day holiday markets in both locations.

The holiday market will be held this weekend from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. in the Marsalis Harmony Park, the former Palmer Park at South Carrollton and South Claiborne avenues. 

On Sunday, Arts New Orleans will present live music by Father Ron & Friendsfrom 1 until 3 p.m. The Friends of the New Orleans Public Library will be selling used books for both children and adults with a holiday theme emphasis – crafting ideas, recipes and of course, children’s stories.  

Devin Ball Photography

Arts Market at Marsalis Harmony Park

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