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Holiday shopping this year doesn’t have to be a virtual affair (although it certainly can be). Considering the impact of the pandemic on small businesses, it is more crucial than ever to support local artisans and makers. Fortunately, one Denver business is reimagining the retail experience by securing a RiNo storefront and renting out space to local artisans to create an affordable pop-up marketplace. Dubbed the Art Place, this ad hoc space is more than a gift shop—it’s also an art gallery and a studio, with artists displaying and creating work in tandem.
Created by Jason Shepherd and Ryan Boykin of Reactiv—a digital marketplace where people can list, search, and book commercial real estate—the Art Place launched at the end of November in an effort to attract customers to shop local and support creatives during the holidays. On one side of the store, customers can find unique and handmade items ranging in price and style. The other side features a more interactive art setting, allowing for in-person experiences with artists and makers.
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The goal of Reactiv is to improve the “financial returns for [property] owners and give entrepreneurs, artists, and makers access to affordable space,” according to Tim Sack, the company’s activation director. Reactiv rents out a space, like this RiNo storefront, and then flips it to artists or other entrepreneurs for nominal fees so that they’re not overburdened by costly rent. Whatever profit the artists generate from their endeavor is theirs to keep.
Sack explains that Reactiv wants to “allow the artists to control their profits while just paying a reachable fee for the space to work and sell.” He also hopes that more local artisans will rent out shelves and wall space in the coming weeks (interested artists can do that here). The Art Space can be rented out for $50 per day or $400 per month. Additionally, vendors pay for the space they take up per month—wall space is available for $5 per square foot; shelf space for $100 for 8 feet of display; floor space for $500 per month; and daily pop-ups are $50 for an 8-foot table (all subject to availability).
Currently, ceramicist Erin Reilly, a member of the Colorado Potters Guild, is using the space like a studio, throwing pottery and creating unique pieces in front of potential customers. Reilly’s wares are mostly made with porcelain, but you wouldn’t expect it by their weight and durability. For a special touch, Reilly uses crystalline glaze that gives each bowl, vase, and cup a one-of-a-kind shine. With a potter’s wheel to the right of the front door, Reilly is making new pieces almost every day.
After Reilly’s lease is up, local artist and photographer Brien Hollowell will take over the space from December 11 through the 31 to showcase On for My City: A Photographic Memoir. With an eye for black-and-white portraits, Hollowell’s photography skirts the boundaries between documentarian, activist, and aesthete. He has a way of catching just the right amount of light on a person’s face and of exploring the delicate beauty of silhouettes. Born in Denver, Hollowell says that he first was introduced to photography through a series of events that kept him from attending the fatal Aurora movie theater shooting in 2012. After that, photography was his calling, leading him to study at the Art Institute of Colorado and pursue a career in the craft.
Other artists currently renting out shelves at the Art Place include Adam Vicarel, Emily Roan, Lisa Rooney, and Jess Webb. Vicarel is an expert typography artist who is also a brand creator and muralist. Roan is an abstract contemporary painter who uses bold colors and patterns on big canvases. Another ceramicist, Lisa Rooney of Gossamer, is offering a smattering of different vessels made with earthy and shiny glazes, some of which look like great containers for houseplants. Interdisciplinary artist Jess Webb’s pieces range from naturally dyed t-shirts to small watercolor sets and more. There’s something for everyone’s budget—from $10 secondhand clothing items to $2,500 original paintings—and the vendors accept cash or card.
This little pop-up marketplace is only temporary for the holiday season, expected to pack out by early January, so it’s best to stop by before the end of the year.
If you go: The Art Space is open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 12–8 p.m. until January 8. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, masks are required at all times and there is a limit of 12 people allowed in the store at once. 2715 Larimer St.