What began in 2012 as an attempt to shed light on art in San Marcos has flourished into an immense market benefitting local artists and citizens.
Today, the Art Squared Arts Market is held every second Saturday of the month from March to December. Vendors arrive at around 7:30 a.m. and set up by 9 a.m., when the event kicks off.
Charlotte Wattigny, San Marcos Arts Commission member and visionary for the art market, said the event provides a platform for artists to exhibit, promote and sell their handcrafted art.
Wattigny said a social called “Art to Art” was created in 2012, which led locals to speak out about needing a place to sell handmade works. Due to popular demand, the commission decided to create an outdoor art market.
Wattigny said the market was originally called “Art Unhitched” in 2013 and took place in a parking lot at the Hitch. Shortly after, she said the market relocated to increase visibility.
“In 2014, we moved it to the courthouse,” Wattigny said. “That’s when we decided, well, maybe it would be better if we got the community to take over running the art market instead of it being run by the Arts Commission.”
Wattigny said the group had to be declared a nonprofit organization in order for the Arts Commission to hand the event over to the community.
She said the San Marcos Art League, which had already obtained a nonprofit status, merged with the organization to form the Art Squared Advisory Committee.
“The San Marcos Art League was revitalized,” Wattigny said. “It lent its nonprofit status to Art Squared.”
Wattigny said the new, community-run committee was led by local artists and vendors.
She said the renamed Art Squared Arts Market event officially launched in March of 2014 and took place at the Hays County Courthouse in downtown San Marcos.
“The lawn at the courthouse gave it a better feel—on the lawn and under the trees and shade,” Wattigny said. “The Farmers Market was going on also. We figured they kind of went together and helped each other out.”
July Moreno, Arts Market manager, said the new location created more exposure for the event.
“It proved to be really successful because, clearly, there was much more traffic,” Moreno said. “We have a lot of the downtown folks that are visiting come to the Art Market in addition to the Farmer’s Market.”
Moreno said October’s market featured 43 registered vendors, with an additional five being added for the November event.
Artists travel from Wimberley, San Antonio, Austin, Kyle and Houston to be a part of the event, Moreno said.
Kathryn Welch, River City Glassworks owner, said she has been a vendor at the market for about five months.
Welch said the event is a great way for her to meet potential customers.
“It gives me a chance to actually let the public know there is a stained glass artist in town,” Welch said. “I work from a private studio, so I don’t have a store.”
Welch said she enjoys that the event is held downtown on the Square, features a variety of different artists and offers only handmade products.
“I just hope it continues to grow and that the people not only in San Marcos, but from out of town, learn about it and come visit,” Welch said. “I had a customer who came all the way from San Antonio because she heard about it and I thought that was so fantastic.”
Moreno said the event incorporates many different types of activities during the market. In October, she said they arranged a kids craft table, yoga session and live music.
She said visitors can access all of the activities for free.
Event organizers hope to see a shift in support for community arts, Moreno said.
“We’ve been really successful this last year and we’ve really made great strides,” Moreno said. “We ultimately hope to have an arts district with museums and those sorts of things that would really support not only the art community, but really help to drive the traffic to San Marcos for that purpose.”