Local gallery owner welcomes variety of events, hopes to attract university community

The House of S. Jaye hosts art shows and vendor markets that give Syracuse artists a platform to share their creations.

Last Sunday, the House of S. Jaye hosted the Syracuse Indie Market for its third vendor show. The art studio has held weekly art shows, dance classes, non-profit events and even a concert by Symphoria, a local co-op orchestra, since it opened over two years ago.

Sam Randolph, the studio’s founder and owner, hopes to make the Indie Market a weekly event.

Photo: Naomi Duttweiler
Visitors browse local vendors’ wares at the House of S. Jaye’s first Indie Market on April 10th.

“We have artists out of the freaking ying yang wanting to come hang their stuff,” said Randolph. “A lot of them are super talented artists, but they’ve never even hung or shown it before.”

Randolph started selling refurbished furniture in Skaneateles three years ago before searching for studio space in Syracuse, where she grew up. Although she’s moved away from furniture, Randolph now uses the space for selling her hand-painted signs and hosting events.

“We don’t want to put this place in a box,” Randolph said. “This is a flex space. It doesn’t have to be about art. Anything that’s good for the soul I want in here.”

The studio hopes to start hosting events for poetry reading and yoga later this spring, as well as open studio time for local artists over the summer.

An open crafting studio for kids and their parents will be held April 23. Randolph wants to provide a space for kids to let their creativity flow, because many parents don’t want to deal with the process and cleanup of art projects.

Randolph and her events and marketing manager Elana Agrasto create events for all ages.

“I had a moment at the first art show we had here where I was like, ‘Holy s-,'” Randolph said. “We got older people, we have younger people; we have men, we have women. It’s all over the board.”

“Even our Facebook demographic is all over the place,” Agrasto added.

One market the studio is particularly trying to engage with is the Syracuse University campus. While a few students come out for the events, they are usually friends of the artists or vendors, Randolph said.

“I was just going to go to a bar or house party and talk to everybody and get stickers to put on them,” Randolph joked. “I know all you SU kids would love this place. You just have to get here.”

Jessica Szela, a sophomore aerospace engineering major, attended the Indie Market last Sunday. She mostly uses Facebook to learn about local events around Syracuse, as well as in her hometown of Staten Island, N.Y.

“People post pictures or say that they are attending events nearby,” Szela said. “If they sound interesting I try to at least say I'm interested in the event so I get reminded of it the day of.”

With over 3,000 likes, the House of S. Jaye’s Facebook page is the main advertiser for its events. The studio also uses Instagram to promote shows, featured art and Randolph’s signs to their 516 followers. Szela found the latest market through a Facebook post.

“(I) thought it would be something fun to do on a Sunday afternoon and get off campus for a while,” Szela said.

Agrasto thinks SU students should leave the campus bubble and explore downtown to get the most out of their city.

“The downtown area has so many products that are fun and exciting and new that students can come see,” the studio manager said.

The Syracuse area has hosted many art markets over the years, but many have closed.

The popular Funky Flea, which was held at the Everson Museum Plaza, disbanded at the end of March 2015 after five shows in four years. The owners Theresa Barry and Briana Kohlbrenner decided it was time to devote their energy to other projects, according to the market’s final blog post.

Kohlbrenner also founded the Salt Market with Vanessa Rose in 2009, which is a seasonal show to showcase local artists and craftspeople’s work. The Market’s Facebook page announced last August that it would not be putting on a fall event due to “busy schedules and personal commitments.” There has been no word yet on a spring show.

The House of S. Jaye is no stranger to the difficulties of maintaining a small business, but they won’t be giving up on theirs any time soon – despite not making much profit beyond rent money.

“We’re literally poor right now,” Randolph said.

“Literally,” Agrasto added, laughing.

The two women joked that Randolph “had a breakdown” a few weeks ago. Both mothers of two, Agrasto and Randolph are kept busy with the studio but hope to increase the events to a weekly schedule.

“This place is my passion,” Randolph said. “I’m willing to eat s- for (the studio) until it picks up… I ain’t moving on from this place.”

Upcoming markets include the Armory Square City Market (returns May 8-October), the Syracuse Arts and Crafts Festival in July and the CNY Regional Flea Market, which takes place every Sunday.

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