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The Downtown Boston Arts Market: A Hidden Creative Haven

A taste of Boston’s premier independent artists

By: Simone Kramer

Photo of a man looking at a tent at the Downtown Boston Arts Market filled with art
Photo By: Andrew Burke-Stevenson

On a cloudless, early autumn Thursday, I found myself en route to the Downtown Boston Arts Market located on Summer Street Plaza in the heart of Downtown Crossing. After a year of living in Boston, I somehow never visited, but this small yet mighty arts market seemed like the perfect reason to finally explore it.

Just a block from the Park Street T Stop, I explored a wide variety of handmade jewelry, accessories, clothing, illustrations, and much more in the presence of large corporations, including Macy’s and Primark, which seemed like a daunting but inspiring contrast.

An artist selling vibrant jewelry crafted from recycled glass caught my eye. Her jewelry seemed to almost come out of a fairytale: mystical and enthralling. Her friendly presence drew me in to learn more.

“I love this neighborhood,” Carolina Portillo shared. Portillo runs a studio in Melrose, Massachusetts, called Recycled Glass Jewelry. Selling her jewelry at the Boston Arts Fair since 2009, she shared how much it means to her, “I feel comfortable, I feel welcomed. I’ve been here for so long I have my returning customers.”

Artists and buyers alike are drawn to this haven of passion and creativity. For some, it is one of the first stops they make when visiting Boston; it leaves a lasting impression. Caitlin Carter and Alice Farrell, from Southwest Virginia and Austin, Texas, respectively, took a trip to Boston to visit their college friend. They came to the art fair on their first full day.

“I go to a lot of art pop-ups in Austin, but this is really cool,” Farrell said. She enjoyed seeing “all the different handmade stuff that they make.”

While the artist turnout is small compared to similar markets in the area, it is still a great spot to check out while exploring downtown on a Thursday or Friday before the last date of the season, October 29th. The fair could benefit from increased marketing on behalf of the city of Boston or the organization itself.

“I just love the local handmade stuff you can’t get anywhere else,” Carter said.

It’s true. This hidden gem is one of a kind. Supporting local and independent artists is another way to make an impact.

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