Holiday Art Market to replace annual Thieves’ Market

After the discontinuation of the Fine Arts Council, artists voiced their financial concerns regarding no longer being able to show at the Holiday Thieves’ Market. Now, the Summer of the Arts organization will be renewing the event under a different name: the Holiday Art Market.


Katie Goodale

Customers shop through the art stalls during the Spring Art Expose in the IMU Main Lounge on Saturday Apr. 21, 2018. Put on by the UI Fine Arts Council, the Spring Art Expose celebrates local artists.

Josie Fischels, Arts Editor

The annual Holiday Thieves’ Market is back on with a new name and owner after its sudden cancelation in September following the University of Iowa’s discontinuation of the Fine Arts Council.

While the council will no longer hold both its spring and fall events, artists will still get a December show. The Summer of the Arts, an Iowa City-based nonprofit organization that hosts several summertime festivals, will now host The Holiday Art Market in the IMU on Dec. 7-8.

The Fine Arts Council hosted two annual art showcases: the Holiday Thieves’ Market in December and the Spring Art Exposé. The UI discontinued the nearly 50-year-old student-run organization after a program review, and artists immediately began voicing their concerns online about losing the two showcases along with it.

“I was absolutely shocked and very disappointed,” weaver Melissa Brown said after she received the email announcing the discontinuation. “It was too late to apply for any other shows. You usually apply anywhere from six [to] nine months ahead of time.”

For Robert and Cheryl Lyall, who said their family frequently sold recycled metal art at the Thieves’ Market, losing the show meant losing their last opportunity to make money off of their art for the year. 

Both Brown and Cheryl Lyall expressed that they wanted, at the very least, one last December show before the events went away entirely. According to a statement given to The Daily Iowan by Fine Arts Council advisor Kelvin Soukup, the UI had no intentions to continue either showcase.

RELATED: After almost 50 years, an abrupt end to the Fine Arts Council

Summer of the Arts Executive Director Lisa Barnes said the renamed “The Holiday Art Market” event will bear many similarities to the original showcase. 

While the Summer of the Arts will not take on the Spring Art Exposé because the organization already puts on its own spring event, Barnes said the December market has already received a positive response from artists. The organization received nearly 35 applications within the first day of announcing the new application process. 

“[Applications] are definitely coming in, so hopefully we’ll have as big and as good of a show as what’s been done in the past,” Barnes said. 

Artists will need to reapply to the new showcase by Oct. 13. Both Brown and the Lyall family said they will reapply, as the deadline to apply for most other art showcases nearby have already passed.

Barnes said the Summer of the Arts hopes to have discussions with its board to continue hosting the market in the coming years. The organization is exploring new locations outside of the IMU, where the event is currently held.

“It was just kind of a logical thing for us to be able to do in what’s considered our ‘off-season,’ Barnes said. “We really didn’t want to see the event go away, and this is just a great opportunity to keep it alive under the Summer of the Arts umbrella.”