Minneapolis-based artist Shea Maze sits beside some of his art he hopes someone will buy as part of their holiday shopping: paintings of people surrounded by creative designs, vase sculptures made from gourds his grandmother grew in her backyard, and an illustrated book.
While he’s been creating art his whole life, Maze only started selling it recently, and he’s among the artists in Roho Collective, a network of artists of color in the Twin Cities, connected to Holiday Village, a pop-up market located in downtown Minneapolis.
“When you get to be part of one of these organizations and you get put in a space like this – finding those connections, finding those roots – it makes you feel less isolated, because it’s scary to be your own boss and entrepreneur. It’s really scary to do something from your heart and just hope that you’re doing it right, and hope that people will receive it,” Maze said.
The Holiday Village, located in the Young-Quinlan Building on the corner of 9th Street South and Nicollet Mall, features more than 30 BIPOC and women creators and entrepreneurs and is open Wednesdays through Sundays through Dec. 24. From candles to wall art to clothing, artists hope shoppers will pass through and find the perfect gift.
The Chameleon Consortium, a group that strives to create business opportunities for BIPOC businesses in the Twin Cities, connected the three main event coordinators: Black Market Events, Roho Collective, and Strive publishing – all businesses and collectives whose goal is to center BIPOC business.
“We don’t provide a space that they have to fit into. We provide a space for them to do what they want with it,” said Shannon Fitzgerald, the leader of the Chameleon Consortium and director of downtown partnerships for the Minneapolis Downtown Council.
Mark James, Holiday Village operations manager, said it’s exciting to give independent artists a platform like this.
“I think that iron sharpens iron and just having a collaboration of artists together to kinda hone their craft and show each other, inspire each other, and support each other is very important,” he said.
These holiday pop-up markets are important for the BIPOC business owners, because only marketing their goods in local neighborhoods doesn’t give them enough exposure, said Eve Onduru, vice president of marketing and business growth at the Center for Economic Inclusion.
“Given the over-concentration of Black and Brown people in undercapitalized neighborhoods, a large number of our businesses are located in storefronts that a large number of consumers do not frequent,” she said. “The value of those corridors is important, and it must be amplified by pop-ups and cooperative working spaces that elevate the amazing products and services offered by Black and Brown businesses.”
Maze said he hopes selling his work at Holiday Village will lead to more people knowing about his work.
“Supporting small businesses is what our society was originally built off of. There’s a lot of people that just don’t get the time of day, they don’t have the chance. The skill is not the issue, it’s the opportunity to have your stuff in a place or have somebody else say, ‘Hey this stuff is good.’ It’s having community,” Maze said.
The Holiday Village is open 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 24.