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TMCNet:  Hillside -- a different art market

[December 11, 2012]

Hillside -- a different art market

Dec 11, 2012 (The Santa Fe New Mexican - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Gallery space is at a premium in Santa Fe, but Hillside Market has added grocery and restaurant services to compete in a competitive art market.


Located off Old Las Vegas Highway, the market contains three distinct areas: the garden, which also serves as a pickup location for Beneficial Farms, a Community Supported Agriculture collective; the coffee shop; and the retail store, which has approximately 45 vendors.

Hillside Market first came to life in June. Back then, it was undeveloped and, according to owner Tisha Sjostrand, didn't present an appealing sight to potential customers. Since then, it's slowly filled with the boutique store staples such as paintings, furniture and jewelry, but it also features eclectic show items such as painted vinyl records and cartoon movie stills.

Sjostrand's model requires that vendors pay a monthly fee in addition to 15 percent of their sales. All the goods have a serial number that's part of one system. Vendors also have enough access to the system so they can track their sales. She said that artists can set their own price.

Many artists, such as JoAnne Tucker, focus on creating small, functional art pieces like coasters or postcards that are easier to sell instead of the larger items, which can be harder to hawk.

Notably, artists don't choose how their artwork's displayed. Sjostrand creates the various vignettes in the store, and that's fine, according to Tucker. In fact, she said she strove to remove herself from the process as much as possible. She said she didn't want to be part of a co-op, she just wanted a place to sell her art. The member dynamic allowed her to straddle that line.

Tucker choreographed dance for 30 years in New York before moving to Santa Fe. She knew she and her husband didn't want to live in New York forever, but she still wanted a creative outlet. So, she started taking art classes and started selling some of her work, but she said she's not after gallery recognition.

"I don't think my work will ever hang in a museum," she said. "And that's not part of my aspiration. If that's your goal, then Hillside Market may not be the place for you." She said she has seen her sales gradually increase since she started displaying her goods at Hillside Market, which isn't the case for all artists. Painter Robert Anderson had work on Canyon Road for about 14 years, but moved his show space to Hillside Market after his landlord said he could no longer paint outside of his shop. He said his sales, undeniably, are slower at Hillside Market, but the larger commission share he gets for his sales means business about evens out.

Hillside faces other challenges, too, and the biggest might be location. Off Old Las Vegas Highway, it seems far removed from the heart of Santa Fe shopping, though Sjostrand said the drive from downtown Santa Fe only takes five to 10 minutes.

Still, she admitted some people think it's a long way to drive.

"We're definitely trying to make it a destination," she said. To that end, Sjostrand offers her space to nonprofit groups hosting events. The nonprofits get 10 percent of the sales, and she gets a larger customer base. The CSA functions similarly because people have to drive out to Hillside Market to pick up their vegetables.

"They have given us customers, and we have given them customers," Tisha said.

Hillside Market was founded by Tisha, her current partner, Pam Fennel, and Tisha's former husband, Kate Sjostrand, who underwent transgender surgery. In fact, all three members live together in the same house. And, no, Tisha said, it's not weird.

"I actually couldn't imagine doing this with anyone else," Tisha said.

Contact Chris Quintana at cquintana@sfnewmexican.com.

___ (c)2012 The Santa Fe New Mexican (Santa Fe, N.M.) Visit The Santa Fe New Mexican (Santa Fe, N.M.) at www.santafenewmexican.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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