Mart for art’s sake: Wax print creations featured at holiday Arts Market

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Courtesy of Adriane Butler

Adriane Butler wears one of her creations to walk her dog Shaka. (Arturo Peal photo)

Uptown resident Adriane Butler was first introduced to the Arts Market as a customer. “I attended one of the Arts Markets and thought it was a excellent way to support local creators,” Butler said.

She began making her own fabric creations about three years ago and, early on in the pandemic, she became a participant in the Arts Market. “I got great feedback about my design work, and have been doing it ever since,” she said.

The Arts Markets, produced by Arts New Orleans, take place two Saturdays a month, once on City Park’s Great Lawn and once in Marsalis Harmony Park (formerly Palmer Park).

Butler, whose art studio is called lasalle&jackson, makes home décor and wearable art with wax prints, a fabric common to West African and Central African nations. The Dutch introduced the technique to the region in the 19th century, after adapting it from an Indonesian batik process.

Subtropical Soul designs (Arturo Peal photo)

The colorful cloth has distinctive patterns, but the fabrics can also have narrative designs. For example, hens and chicken often represent family life.

Occasionally Butler gets what are known as “commemorative fabrics,” often from Benin in West Africa, that reflect the wearers. They can be about politicians, schools or occasions such as Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day. They usually have text in the colonial languages of French or English, and sometimes include the local language as well.

Butler sources the fabrics for “Subtropical Soul” designs both nationally and internationally from textile producers in Nigeria, France and the Netherlands.

“There is a network of West African communities in the United States,” she said, “and I often purchase from these vendors.” She waits until she has the fabric in hand to decide what to make from it.

Wax print pillows (Courtesy of Adriane Butler)

Butler also works with vintage decorator fabrics, heavy enough for drapery or upholstery. These usually are made into jackets, with a lighter weight wax print sewn in as the lining.

The wax prints often become throw pillows made in either 16- or 24-inch sizes. And more special and less common are her upholstery projects, such as recovering chairs or other furniture.

“Unless I have a conflict, I exhibit both at the Uptown market and the Mid-City market,” Butler said. “I have customers who come by to see me even if they are not buying that day. There is a real sense of community there, and it’s a great way to build relationships.”

The Mid-City market in City Park captures a lot of people who happen to be in the park to exercise or visit the other attractions. “People seem to like to reward themselves for working out by buying an original work of art. It is more of a destination than the Uptown market,” she said.

Butler said the market is the perfect venue for people who love New Orleans and who also want to support local arts and crafts. “It helps me with my marketing, and is great for trying out new things,” she said. “The organizers are fantastic and supportive.”

She said she sees New Orleans as an artists’ city – so much music, visual arts and all types of culture. This attracts visitors to our city and they come here to be inspired. “The Arts Market creates a space for that,” she added.

Adriane Butler displays her wares at the Arts Market in Harmony Marsalis Park. (Devin Ball Photography)

Now in its fourth decade, Arts New Orleans is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting arts and culture in the city. This includes presenting a twice-monthly Arts Market both in Mid-City (second Saturday of the month), and Uptown in Marsalis Harmony Park (formerly Palmer Park).

“Each of our artists represent a small business, and the Arts Market provides an important platform to allow those businesses to connect with and grow their customer base,” said Lindsay Glatz, the creative director of Arts New Orleans.

For the market patrons, it provides a more personal shopping experience. “Even with the prevalence of online shopping, nothing compares to seeing a work of art in person,” Glatz said.

This reflects Butler’s experience. “I feel that what I make is specific to this place, and I join with other people doing incredible things,” she said. “I am glad that Arts New Orleans makes this opportunity available. For me, it’s a home base.” She can also be found on Instagram and Facebook.

“I consider myself fortunate to be a part of this [the Arts Market] and to be a part of New Orleans too. It is a fantastic way to be in touch with our city,” she said.

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 the twice-monthly Arts Market. The Uptown market is held the last Saturday of every month, except in November and December, when there are two-day holiday markets. 

In Marsalis Harmony Park on Saturday and Sunday (Nov. 26 and 27), Arts New Orleans will present, along with the work of 50 artists, music by Father Ron & Friends and an Ecos Latinos band. To add to the festive atmosphere, the McDonogh 35 College Preparatory Charter High School choir will be caroling.

This two-day holiday market will have the most vendors of any 2022 market. 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.  

For more information, visit the Arts Market website, Instagram or Facebook page.

Devin Ball Photography

Arts Market at Marsalis Harmony Park

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