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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Vendors prepare for Fourth Avenue Winter Street Fair


    Courtesy of Susan Tate

    Artist Susan Tate’s booth displaying her ceramic works at the Festival of Arts and Crafts in Tempe in November 2014. Tate has participated in the Fourth Avenue Street Fair for 25 years.

    Finals and the holidays are fast approaching, but the 45th annual Fourth Avenue Winter Street Fair is here to ease some stress.

    Located on Fourth Avenue from University Boulevard down through Eighth Street, the Street Fair begins Friday and ends Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day. The biannual event brings around 400 arts and crafts booths, 35 or more food vendors, with local live music, street performers, face painting and other entertainment.

    “[The] Street Fairs are extremely loved by this community, and that’s how you last 45 years,” said Kurt Tallis, the marketing and events director for the Fourth Avenue Merchants Association.

    Tallis added that the fairs are a great source of income, because there are 100 merchants on Fourth Avenue that get to showcase their wares during the event, and it is an economic driving force for their existence.

    The fair has between 600 to 700 artists apply for each Street Fair, and only 358 get invited to each show, Tallis said. Of those 358 vendors, about one-third of them haven’t worked the Street Fair before.

    “I’m excited; it’s a big show, so we’ll see what happens,” said Bobby Harr, a newcomer to the Street Fair this year. Harr owns Fused & Kiln Formed Glass based in Scottsdale and creates fused glass with vibrant colors. He mostly makes accessories for men and women, Judaica, some sculptures and nightlights.

    Harr also said he hopes to do well at this event, as it is a new place for him to sell his goods and expose his work to people who may not be familiar with Fused & Kiln Formed Glass.

    Another newcomer is Susan Williams, a photographer whose work mostly concerns nature, wolves and horses.

    “I call it ‘Photo Art,’” Williams said. “It all starts with photographs, and I make a digital painting. They’re printed onto canvas, so they are sort of in the realm of a photograph and a painting.”

    Williams added that coming to the Street Fair is a great way to meet new people and to try new locations to present their work.

    In a long-lasting event such as the Street Fair, there are bound to be veteran vendors. One such artist is Susan Tate, who has been participating in the Street Fair for the last 25 years. She owns Mellow Mud Pottery, based in the Northern Sierras above Chico, Calif., and works with high-fire stoneware clay.

    “It’s great. Tucson is a very eclectic town,” Tate said. “It’s wonderful; the people love art, and so they’re very fun. But it’s also fun as an artist to people-watch.”

    Tate said she began doing her craft when, 40 years prior, she was a bank teller, and her husband was reading the newspaper that had an advertisement for a 10-week pottery course. Her husband suggested she take the pottery course after learning of her frustration with her work to help her mellow out, hence the name, “Mellow Mud.”

    Despite hearing that she wouldn’t get to work with clay in her class, Tate went off on her own and created her own clay work.

    The Street Fair got its start in 1970 when merchants on Fourth Avenue brought their wares out onto the sidewalks for sidewalk sales. Footage of this era in Tucson history can be seen on YouTube for a nostalgic glimpse of how far the Street Fair has evolved in the last 45 years.  

    Notable Vendors In Attendance:

    Varin Acevedo, Sweet Silhouette (Booth #270)

    – This silhouette artist is a former Tucson resident who can make old-fashioned, shadowy portraits of children, couples and even pets.

    Meg Harper, eco-friendly artist (Booth #347)

    – This animal-lover paints vibrant portraits on recycled materials such as tin metal or washing machine lids. She also crafts trendy purses out of old cigar boxes.

    Susan Williams, windhorseOne Studios (Booth #404)

    – A photographer specializing in equine portraits, Williams will be showcasing her portraits at the Street Fair for the first time this year.

    Ken Weisner, Weisner’s Finest Smoked Meats (Booth #534)

    – Making their smoked meats with prime, Minnesotan beef, this Tucson establishment cooks their products in flavors such as lemon pepper and honey-maple syrup.

    Susan Tate, Mellow Mud Pottery (Booth #701)

    – This pottery maker uses California’s red, stoneware clays to make three-dimensional figures of wildlife and nature.


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