“It’s such a joy”: the Blue Genie Art Bazaar is back for the 2021 holiday season

The Blue Genie Art Bazaar – Austin’s annual holiday exhibition and sale showcasing the arts and crafts of up to 200 local artists – was first held in 2001. This first year, the The exhibit was small and hastily planned; Blue Genie employees turned on lights and swept the floor of their studio, then opened the doors to sell some of their own items and little else. To their surprise, the response was positive enough to encourage them to do it again the following year and the following year. Since then, the bazaar has returned with each holiday season, growing larger each time, possibly showcasing the work of some 200 local artists.

That annual growth ended in 2020, when the pandemic forced Blue Genie to scale back and do things a little differently, resulting in a 20e A birthday show that wasn’t quite what they originally hoped for. “We put a lot of energy into figuring out what we could do, how to do it, and how we could pivot, you know, if we have to pivot. But more importantly, how do we make our customers feel as safe as possible, ”says Blue Genie co-founder Dana Younger. “And so last year we limited our capacity to 50% of what the Fire Marshal says is correct, and we asked people to make reservations to ensure they could get in. And everything worked fine. And our very supportive and generous community of artistic supporters in Austin came out. And we just had to survive and live to talk about it another day. And so here we are.

Some of the changes made for 2020 persist for the 2021 version of the bazaar, Younger says. “You know, we did some creative things last year. We launched an online store, so now we have a website where you can also view and buy art from Austin. And we did a personal shopping service which was pretty fun, ”he says. “So these two advents of the pandemic continued.”

Since the Covid vaccine became widely available between the holiday seasons of 2020 and 2021, Younger says in-person shopping at the bazaar is more like the old days. “We always keep our capacity a little short of what the fire marshal says we can max out, and we keep our finger on the pulse of what’s comfortable,” he says. “We want people to feel comfortable. We encourage people to wear masks. “

Younger says he’s happy to see clients and artists returning to the bazaar this year. “It’s such a joy to hear our audience say how fun it is to be there, how excited they are to see artists they know or see new things, how point they like to go out with their family and friends and do things they haven’t been able to do, ”he says. “And how they afford superb local handicrafts.”

This year’s bazaar features the works of around 170 artists and, as usual, there is a mix of returning favorites and first-time attendees. One of the artists showcasing his work this year is Younger himself, who says one of the perks of the past year and a half is that he’s had more time to create art again. One of the ironies of being an artist running a large art exhibition is that all of that paperwork doesn’t leave a lot of time to create art. The extended lockdown period was a game-changer for Younger, however. “I found a lot of time to do stuff, and [I’m] really appreciate it, ”he said. “I always thought, ‘Hey, I’m too busy editing the show and doing my other chores and things. But then I was like, ‘This is crazy. i should have a place [in the show]. ‘ It’s super fun. The validation, you know, that creatives get from people who enjoy what they’re doing? Dude, this is real. It’s good.”

The Blue Genie Art Bazaar runs until Christmas Eve at the Blue Genie Big Top and online at bluegenieartbazaar.shop.

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Reggie S. Williams