The community, culture, and art of a society are all vital factors in shaping the fabric of our life’s experiences. How we live, work, and contribute creatively within our culture provides enrichment, appreciation, and a sense of fulfillment for ourselves and the people we come in contact with in our community. The creation of things is art, and art, put simply, is the “principal means of communicating ideas and emotional meanings from one person to another” and it is the symbolization of human experiences into art form.
Culture is defined as a “pattern of behaviors, ideas, and values shared by a group” of people living in a community. When art meets culture, or culture meets art, there is a profound and important influence given by each to the other. The artisans are the conduit thru which different modes of expression become the art that reaches out and communicates with an audience. The renowned British artist, William Morris, described art as the “expression of man’s pleasure in labor.” Furthermore, Morris asked,
“what business have we with art at all unless all can share it?”  When people of a diverse community share their beliefs, values, and experiences with each other, barricades are broken, acceptance is valued, and creativity is both influenced and allowed to flourish for anyone who wishes to get involved.
In our community of Eugene, Oregon, there exists a place where the people, culture and art all get involved. They intermingle in an open street market forum, benefiting and enriching the appreciation of creativity, culture, and community for artists and patrons alike. “Every Saturday, rain or shine, between April and Thanksgiving, approximately 150 vendors display their handmade or home-grown products in a park in downtown Eugene, Oregon.”  This is Eugene’s Saturday Market, and it is here that for over thirty years artisans from many fields have found an outlet to exhibit and sell their hand-crafted creations. The purpose of our group final project is to report on the important aspects of creativity, culture, and community which each have a role in making the Saturday Market such a rewarding experience for everyone who participates.
The Saturday Market was launched in 1970 for a number of reasons. There existed “a large number of artisans and a lively interest of buying and using local crafts, as shown by the burgeoning success of annual Christmas craft sales." There was also an abundance of local produce but there had been no downtown outlet for growers to sell their produce since the closure of the old Farmer’s Market in the 1950’s. These factors, along with the growing need felt by city planners to revitalize the "dying" downtown area led to the blueprinting of a district in downtown Eugene where artisans, growers, and vendors of all sorts could re-establish the outdoor market concept. Farmer's Market's exist in many cities, but Eugene has taken a much broader step by encouraging all craftspeople and food vendors to consider setting up their booths at Saturday Market. For a nominal fee and a cut of the profits, the city provides modest booth space for anyone who qualifies. To qualify, you simply must be selling goods that are home-made, hand-crafted, and produced locally.
The creativity of the craft-makers, food vendors, and musicians that permeate the “park blocks” area of downtown Eugene every Saturday is well-evidenced by the successes that the Saturday Market continues to showcase. It has become a boon to the local economy, garnering enthusiastic support from the local government and the citizens of Eugene. The market has provided a steady, yet expanding, stage on which artists from all creative fields are welcomed and encouraged to participate. Many artists find that both personal artistic fulfillment and financial success are stimulated by their participation and dedication to crafting their art, preparing their food, and performing their music at Saturday Market. They are inspired in this environment of multi-faceted creativity, and, like most artists, they work long hours and continue to improve their abilities for the sole purpose of giving their best efforts to what they create.
Again, creativity is the action and art is the result, the result of that which we make from the things that we think about. The “stuff” that is important to each of us as individuals. “Most of the things that are interesting, important, and human are the results of creativity” and thus, “creativity is a central source of meaning in our lives.” Art is expression, the expression of “making things special”, and art is a “fundamental human species characteristic that demands and deserves to be promoted and nourished.” The communities and cultures in which we live influence the ways in which we think about things, and they contribute to the ideas and creations of the art we produce. In this sense, “art and living are inseparable and mutually sustaining, and always have been, ever since the appearance of human beings on our planet.” And since the dawn of mankind as a thinking species, it has become necessary to designate some people as leaders or organizers of the events at which people can gather and share their cultural and creative experiences and ideas.
Therefore, the Saturday Market is no exception to this premise. It takes creative people to make such events happen, and it also requires of these talented people that they keep the important concepts of what artistic freedom and individual expressionism mean to our cultural identity at the forefront of their planning. They, like the artisans who participate, give Saturday Market its vitality and direction, keeping it fresh, vibrant, attractive, and open to all. The organizer’s forward thinking agenda to keep in step with the culture and the times is an important aspect as to how community art fairs and markets may endure successfully.
In the case of Eugene’s Saturday Market, we have people like Beth Little, who is the General Manager for the Saturday and Holiday Markets through out the year. Beth, along with the help of the Board of Directors, try their best to create an event that is not only fun and amazing for the whole family to experience, but is also a place where the artists from Eugene and all over Oregon can come to share what they create with the community at large. Beth Little is responsible for over-seeing all the different aspects, as well as the potential problems, that arise when holding an event as enormous and popular as Saturday Market. She has been working at this for fourteen years now, and she feels that she is continuously helping to make the art and culture of Eugene more enjoyable and accessible to more and more people every year.
In speaking with Beth Little, we get an idea of what she feels Saturday Market is able to do for the city of Eugene. She explains what qualifies someone to come and sell goods or services at the Eugene Saturday Market. She states that, “Saturday Market is not an art show, or a trade show in the traditional scene, it is molded after the original market place idea. A place where one can come to sell what they create by hand.” This is an interesting aspect of the Saturday Market, in that all the crafts for sale and the services available (food, massage, holistic counseling, or even Tarot Card readings) are all done by the creators and vendors themselves. There is no one who is selling products that they have collected or purchased from another source to turn a profit. Everything is produced and made by the artists and vendors who participate directly with the public at the market.
With that principal in mind, the market sellers contribute an important value to our culture as a whole. The value of hard work and the satisfaction one gets from doing their work, promotes the values, as well as, the results, of what a strong work ethic, dedication, and a sense of perseverance can provide. The artists are also creating something that may have a function, a value, and/or a meaning to other people in the community. Much of the creative talents that these makers of crafts, foods, music, and farm goods dedicate to their particular crafts, are skills which most other people either don’t possess, have never learned or taken the time to learn such skills, or they are skills that are just difficult to master. The idea that anyone can go to the Saturday Market and directly visit and speak with the artists, and perhaps purchase something the artists have hand-crafted, is an important consideration in thinking about how these interpersonal contacts and transactions contribute to our culture and community.
This effect on culture is also noted in the reading “Art and Appreciation” which makes clear that “In a period when the need for interpersonal and multicultural understanding is greater than ever, art experiences that expand our consciousness are essential.” The article also identifies that “one of art’s most positive functions is the expansion of our awareness – personally, socially, politically, and culturally.” The idea that culture relies on the shared communications of our human experiences in order for it to be truly affecting and meaningful to our growth, tolerance, and acceptance of different views and beliefs is a basic value that is certainly in practice at Eugene’s Saturday Market.
Market Organizer Beth Little agrees, “This idea of the one-to-one communication between the producer and the consumer helps to shift the products towards the needs and wants of the consumer.” With this shift, the people who buy from the vendors are able to get the items which represent the dedicated artist’s best efforts and skills. The artist’s get the opportunity to learn what their patron’s really like, expect, or desire when they go out to public markets, and thus, the artist can set about to create new items to feature and to sell in the future. Beth also finds that, “The communication between the producers and consumers leads to a core value, one (that is) based on the relationship that is developed with others when we are working towards a common goal. It also creates a higher quality of goods in the market place.” The core value Beth Little mentions, that of common goals being achievable through mutual communication, is something that is important in all societies around the world. It’s how we get things done, and it’s how we progress. When we communicate well, and have good relationships based on trust and equity, all the opinions, options, ideas, and even criticisms, are extremely useful in determining what course of action is truly best to achieve the goals set forth. This is what pushes people to do great things, and this is what keeps the culture we have moving in new, exciting, and innovative directions.
Whenever there is an event that happens regularly enough for most of the community to, if they choose, participate in, or if they are at least aware of what is going on at the event, it is helping to create a sense of culture around that community. Saturday Market is definitely an event worthy of this consideration. People from all walks and places can come to buy and sell goods, or they can just soak in the atmosphere and culture that is Saturday Market. Community, culture and the arts are definitely in the air. As Beth Little further exemplifies, “Saturday Market helps to develop a culture. Through the constant interaction and communication, it is able to give personality to the town of Eugene and create a community culture here.” This is something that the people who developed this “Market Place Model” for Eugene’s Saturday Market had hoped would occur. The original planners and organizers wanted to give the community a larger awareness of these artists. They also wanted the artists to have a forum where their talents could be publicly displayed for the community to enjoy and patronize. The planners had a strong desire to open the public’s eyes to the many different types of creativity, art, and expression that exist in our own backyard, and thus far, they have been quite successful.
Crafts & Artists:
When you visit Saturday Market, you will find a wide variety of different types of vendors offering a wide array of crafts and artwork. One artisan, Alex Bozrd, has been a vendor at Saturday Market for over 20 years. Alex makes ceramic dishes and pots by hand, and he is not only a potter who sells at the market, but he is also the chairman of the Board of Directors for Saturday Market. He is an artist whom believes in the cultural importance and significance that Saturday Market offers to the Eugene community wholeheartedly, and he lives and works with these concepts in the forefront of his thinking. He first came to Saturday Market, with his wife, in1989, and soon decided that he too wanted to participate in this artistic forum, and to make his living by hand. He believes it is important to remember that many of the crafts are one’s that have had a rich history in our early agrarian society. Alex offers, that “In the old days, people would grow their crops, and craft certain things on their farms, and with their families. They would take their excess wares, the things they did not need for themselves, to a market where they could trade and sell their goods with other farmers and craftsmen.”
Our modern economies all relate back to those practices of taking one’s excess goods to be traded, or sold, in order to buy or obtain other foods and items that were deemed necessary for survival. Alex adds, “This is not just a bunch of hippies selling their things at a market,” which many people may feel upon “their first impressions” of Saturday Market. According to Alex, “There are many people who have advanced degrees in different fields from many good Universities.” Alex Bozrd, himself, has a Masters Degree from the University of Oregon in Fine Arts. He relates a story about a lady who has a Doctorate in Engineering. Before coming to Eugene, she was developing military test sites for different divisions of the United States Government. After she determined that she wanted to be an artist, she re-created and sold a tool which had been originally used during the renaissance period to haul organic waist products. She had completely changed her life when she was exposed to art and the realization that she could indeed be an artist. Alex comments, that “this is a bunch of people who are trying to share their skills with the community and help everyone they can with what they can do.” Alex concludes his comments about Saturday Market with a couple of phrases that he feels clearly state his feelings about the importance that Saturday Market has to our community and culture: “Bringing art from the homes to the street,” and “Helping people help others by sharing their crafts with the world.”
Eugene’s Saturday Market began its existence as a rather small event, but it has grown into something akin to a ritual for so many people in our community. The history of the Saturday Market has illustrated the culture of Eugene over the years. The market brings together many different aspects of our community’s culture through the hand-made crafts, paintings, pottery, jewelry, furniture, sculptures, and clothing that are made by a variety of talented artists. All of the crafts have meaning and value for the artists and the patrons who come to Saturday Market. The art communicates different messages to different people. We get messages and meaning from just observing art, and we don’t necessarily require any other information. It’s what it means to us. With just a glance, we get more information and more communication, delivered to us “more quickly than if we had to go around asking everyone who they were or what they do.”
Art and creativity can be taxing, hard work. But there is something that draws the artist into this challenge that makes most of their experiences worthwhile. As Booth describes, “Art exists in the absorption in the tasks of putting existing things together in ways that have meaning.” Even through failure, or rejection, something is learned, and therefore the artist may be better equipped in his or her knowledge and skills that their confidence will continue to build over a period of time. A seasoned woodworker, Sam Maloof, interviewed in the PBS documentary “Craft in America” describes a lesson that he learned when his wife tried to restore his spirit, which had been deflated by a letter from art dealer who was rejecting his art submittal. His wife told him that “rejection is good for the ego”, and Sam emphatically states “I never forgot that, I never ever forgot that.” There is no clear direction or path to being a successful, creative artist, it is indeed an experimental process of continuous learning that is enhanced by repetition and accumulated experiences and skills. Booth again opines that “one must set aside preconceptions and expectations…the artist-in-life is courageous enough to participate and play…to make stuff she loves, every day, as a habit, at the job and at home.”
Making and creating things that are loved is intrinsic to the talented people who every week bring their talents and creations to Saturday Market. The variety of fields in which these artisans display their abilities and talents at crafting, are witnessed by all the people who look over, buy, taste, and listen to the fruits of their labors. Everything is an art when it comes from the creative process and will of the mind.
Food & Artists:
In addition to the fine, hand-crafted arts and physical objects we find at the Saturday Market, the food and music of the market also play a huge role in portraying the talents of the artists, and how they too influence the culture of Eugene. The food at the Saturday market reflects art and creativity in two different ways. The home-grown produce that is sold in the Farmer’s Market area is plentiful and appealing, and buyers appreciate the attention given by the growers to their locally grown products, almost as much as they appreciate the freshness and variety of the items available. The food that is cooked fresh in the food court is teeming with aromas and unique tastes that make the mouth water in anticipation.
Culture is abundant in the food court, as many specialty foods from many countries are created hot and fresh by cooks and creators representing many different countries and influences. Along with the food, there is the music you can here while strolling through the market stalls. The music changes from hour to hour and week to week, and many diverse styles and cultures are represented by the musicians and their music. Furthermore, the music that is played every Saturday by a live band at the market seems to provide a necessary background or central theme of just how special and original the Saturday Market is for the people in the community. Music and food are two features that really can define a culture and a community, and at Saturday Market the artistic crafts of the food makers, food sellers, and the musicians is on full display. Along with the crafts, services, and the general atmosphere of creativity in action that permeates the environment of the park blocks ever week, the Saturday Market certainly exhibits much of the artistic, creative, and culturally relevant influences that are at work in our community.
Like the crafts that are sold, the food “sold at the Market is made, grown or gathered by the person selling it.” All of the food sold in the booths at the market is home grown, which makes it seem much more special to the patrons. Not only is it special because it is purely fresh and produced locally, it is also special because the food is also a unique form of art. Although it might seem odd to see a home-grown produce item as a piece of art, there is a cultural attribute or message of importance that surrounds each item, giving it a unique quality of special-ness. The process of actually growing and caring for a plant is an art as well, but it is art as a verb, a creative growth of something useful and beautiful from mere seeds or sprouts. The idea of putting something into the ground, watering and nurturing it, so it can grow into something beautiful and real is the process that lends itself to being considered as art. One common definition of art is making something from the imagination into an actual piece of reality. By putting a small seed into the ground, with only a mindset of what it can possibly be, and then following the procedures that it takes to make it into reality is creating a piece of art with one’s own hands.
Again we turn to Eric Booth to re-iterate the point that “the artist-in-life is courageous enough to participate and play; the everyday artist makes stuff she loves every day, as a habit, at the job, and at the home.” This proves that these vendors who grow these objects do it for the love of what they are doing. To more clearly see this connection of growing produce as a work of art one must wonder: what is going on inside the artist’s head as they plant the seed into the ground. My mother grows vegetables and has told me, “When planting a seed into the ground, I can already see the beautiful creation I am about to make.” This is pure art. The idea of selling this produce at Saturday Market clearly portrays the importance that local food and produce has to the culture of the Eugene community. A Saturday Market patron recently interviewed in an article in the Eugene Daily Emerald commented that "Knowing how your food is grown and who grows it is pretty rare in this day and age, but at the farmer's market, that's commonplace."
Not only does the home-grown food sold at the Farmer’s Market represent works of art, but the food made in the International Food Court has a very creative side as well. All of the food made in the food booths is specially prepared, made to order, by experienced and specialized chefs and preparers. There is a wide variety to the types of food made in the food court, from Indian food, Mexican food, home-made candies, to Asian and Greek foods and even specialty pizzas. Each food is full of the culture from all over Eugene. The food accurately portrays the wide variety of cultural backgrounds and diversity that is exists in the Eugene community.
Specifically, Rita’s Burritos is a great example of the artful taste that Mexican food is famous for. The booth itself won “Beautiful Booth of the Month” at the Saturday Market, displaying the amount of effort and quality this lady puts into the simplest things. For her, and for many customers, her burritos are a work of art. The effort put into creating her food is amazing and this effort is put into not only cooking, but it is also put into the presentation as well. The appearance of her food looks so creatively inspired and art-like, that it almost seems wrong to actually devour it. McFee states, “to develop criteria for judging the quality of art, we all need to know what its main function is.” Therefore, according to this definition of the quality of art, if this food is made purposely to look beautiful and delicious; by looking delicious, people want to purchase and buy the food to eat; and eating the food is its main purpose. So this international food in the food court portrays works of art that live up to the definition of what may be called art. These works of art, in food form, also demonstrate the diversity that Eugene has, and it is just that kind of variety and diversity that people yearn for at the Saturday Market.
Perhaps it is the patrons of Saturday Market that can provide some of the best insights as to what the community at large finds most satisfying about the existence of Saturday Market. Tina Jansen, is a frequent visitor to Saturday Market, and she has her own take on what it her experiences at the market mean to her. “It’s the place to be. I’ve always enjoyed all of my visits to Saturday Market. Whether I just hang out and enjoy the gathering of all the artists and musicians that I see at the market, or if I am shopping for a unique gift or something special for myself, I am never disappointed. It changes just enough over time, and the artist’s are obviously trying to add new items to their inventories. I love everything about it, and I am hooked.”
Bronwyn Crossman, a freshman at the University of Oregon, has this impression of Saturday Market: “I just love seeing something new every time I come here. There will always be something I missed the week before. It’s great when you see something that was meant for one specific purpose taken and spun into something completely different. It makes it that much more special.” Crossman has been to the Market every week since she has started school. “Since I’ve been here, I’ve seen a lot of things that I wouldn’t normally see in my hometown (Bellingham, Washington). I’ve seen people who try to sell art in the street, people who sit in front of Starbucks playing harmonicas, and an abundance of Hiron’s stores. But I didn’t know I was going to be neck-deep in handcrafted fine arts every weekend. It’s amazing.”
Music & Artists:
In addition to the cultural diversity and creativity portrayed in the crafts and food at Saturday Market, the live music plays a huge role in the art scene. The music played at the Saturday market is also internationally diverse, reflecting many cultural influences and styles existing in the community. From Jewish songs, to blues, to swing dancing and good ole’ rock and roll, the guests are never disappointed with the entertainment that is playing at the Saturday Market. Not only does the music reflect and contribute to our culture through its variety of instruments, lyrics, and different styles, it also an obviously creative, interesting, and inspired form of art. Similarly, the bands that play at the market are expressing art as a verb. Their performance is an action spurred by their creative abilities to convey the meanings, emotions, and rhythms which they feel inside. The musicians clearly illustrate something that is in their imagination through the music and the words they sing. Many musicians make music come to life and this certainly qualifies as a worthy form of art and creativity. Furthermore, the music reflects the dynamics that exist in the different cultures and styles of music performed.
Rob Tolinas and Friends are one band that plays often at the Saturday Market. Their style of music is a song cycle from the world of Jewish Renewal. Their songs were influenced from a tour of Israel that the band members made together. This group stands out in performance because of their choice to play a rarely heard form of music which they hope will become more familiar and appreciated in our current culture. The group explains that their music is a "kind of a delicious eclectic gumbo, mixing an extraordinary variety of musical styles, all reinforcing very positive, often spiritual, themes.” This is art at its finest. This is a group bringing culture together with creativity and imagination.
Art is often defined as anything which is creative and expresses feeling and emotion. Not only is emotion and feeling put into every word of Rob Tolinas and Friends’ lyrics, but it is clearly appreciated and well-liked by the people who are listening. The most amazing aspect of their performance is how they effectively deliver to the Eugene community their commitment to a style of music that defies the modern day conception of music. Justin Davidson writes, “We pipe the [music] stuff into our bodies and use it to pad the interior of a vehicle like a permanent airbag.” However, the people that go to Eugene’s Saturday Market truly understand the art behind the different types of music that are routinely played there. For many people, they simply appreciate and understand the music instead of just listening to it. Music is a form of art which speaks directly to the audience, and the Saturday Market offers a wide range of culturally influential music and performances each and every week.
The Saturday Market in Eugene, Oregon has had a tremendous impact on the creativity and culture of the people in the community. With its lively presence and rich history of support, the market has been thoroughly successful at providing freshly grown produce, various services, arts and crafts, and musical performances, on a weekly basis since its first beginnings in 1970. The Saturday Market has been a vital part in the development of a culture that shares and appreciates all of the aspects that Saturday Market offers to the community. It has provided the framework for an environment that fosters and recognizes creativity and the Arts in a ways that many cities would certainly envy. It features the country’s oldest running outdoor farmer’s market.
This event provides much insight as to what is truly valued in this growing community. Saturday Market nurtures the development of art appreciation by making it possible for anyone to participate in whatever ways they desire. In the article “The Role of the Arts in Transforming Consciousness”, Elliot W. Eisner illustrates the idea that the “role of the arts” is to transform consciousness, and through the sights, sounds, tastes, and experiences we undergo through life it becomes possible for us “to establish contact with the environment in and through which we live.” Experiencing this environment, this culture, is “the very stuff of life” and “we humans give simultaneously both a personal and cultural imprint to what we experience.”
In the case of the Saturday Market, the people who participate in the event, as artists and as patrons, are exposed to a diverse set of art forms and cultures, which they are able to appreciate using all of their senses. People who attend the market will see everything from rings made from spoon handles, customized Cribbage boards and furniture, to the many kinds of wacky, far-out clothes, pottery, jewelry items, and crafts of all kinds that are on display every week. There is no limit to what human creativity can achieve, and there also appears to be no limit to how events such as the Saturday Market can contribute to our understanding of how culture is developed and nurtured by the sharing of experiences, beliefs, likes and dislikes, and all of the expressions of individual creativity that we call art. Saturday Market is certainly a valuable commodity to the community of Eugene, Oregon. There are many great opportunities for creative thoughts and actions to flourish, while Saturday Market also provides a unique forum where we can share the experiences, influences, and beliefs that we collectively value as a thriving culture.
01.^ McFee & Degge. Exploring the Relationships Between Art & Culture. Art, Culture, and Environment:
A Catalyst for Teaching. Wadsworth Publishing Co, Inc, 1977. (class reading)
02.^ McFee & Degge. Exploring the Relationships Between Art & Culture. Art, Culture, and Environment:
A Catalyst for Teaching. Wadsworth Publishing Co, Inc, 1977 (class reading).
03.^ Kaplan, Wendy. The Arts & Crafts Movement in Europe & America. New York: Thames & Hudson,
04.^ History of Satuday Market. http://www.eugenesaturdaymarket.org/smhist.html .
05.^ Weekday Eugene Market Strives to Revitalize. The Oregonian (AP), 23 Aug. 2008. http://www.oregonlive.com/business/index.ssf/2008/08/weekday_eugene_market_strives.html.
06.^ Csikszentmihalyi, M. Setting The Stage. Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention. Harper/Collins, 1996
07.^ Dissan, Ellen. Art For Life's Sake (class reading).
08.^ Canaday, John. What is Art?. New York: Knopf, 1980.
09.^ Art & Appreciation (class reading).
10.^ Beth Little (Saturday Market Interview) .
11.^ McFee & Degge. Exploring the Relationships Between Art & Culture. Art, Culture, and Environment:
A Catalyst for Teaching. Wadsworth Publishing Co, Inc, 1977 (2nd McFee class reading).
12.^ Booth, Eric. Noetic Sciences Review. Summer, 1998 (class reading).
13.^ Craft in America. DVD. PBS Home Video, 2007.
14.^ Booth, Eric. Noetic Sciences Review. Summer, 1998 (class reading).
15.^ Booth, Eric. Noetic Sciences Review. Summer, 1998 (class reading).
16.^ Holtz, Jackson. Farmer's Markets Offer Local Flavor. The Daily Emerald, 15 July 2004.
17.^ Tina Jansen. Satuday Market patron interview, December, 2008.
18.^ Bronwyn Crossman. Satuday Market patron interview, December, 2008.
19.^ Eisner, Elliot. The Role of The Arts in Transforming Consciousness. The Arts and the Creation of Mind. Yale University Press, 2002.
20.^ Alex Bozrd (Saturday Market Interview).
Don't forget to visit our second page which is full
Click this for our original Microsoft .doc file of this report (saturdaymarket.doc)
of Photos,Videos and Links pertaining to Eugene's
WONDERFUL Saturday Market.
Clicking on any image on this page will open a new window with a larger picture