What You’ll Find at SoWa Open Market in 2014

Meet six standout artists and see what they're offering this summer.

sowa open market 2014

Photo by Margaret Burdge

May flowers weren’t the only things blooming this weekend. The first Sunday of the month also marked the first day of SoWa, which opened for its 2014 season yesterday morning bright and early.

In the spring and summer months, SoWa, the arts district south of Washington Street, hosts a popular weekly open market (accompanied by a farmer’s market, food trucks, and perennial indoor vintage market) bringing together artists from Boston and beyond with the promise of goods that push the envelope.

RELATED: SoWa 2014 Food Truck Lineup

The weekly event is always teeming with Boston residents gathering to see some of the most unique products that New England has to offer. Attendees can chat with designers and learn about their products and processes, explore a mecca of innovative handmade goods, and walk away with some exceptional pieces.

With so many vendors to hit (2014 boasts the most so far) and an abundance of eye-catching goods, it’s easy to get lost in the crowds. Here, get to know six artists to keep an eye out for, and find out how they’re changing it up at SoWa this year.

sowa open market 2014 Nathan William Murrell long

sowa open market 2014 Nathan William Murrell

Top: Some of Murrell’s shadow boxes and PO boxes. Bottom: Murrell’s screen prints. / Photos by Margaret Burdge

Nathan William Murrell: “Maker of Things”

This SoWa veteran has been selling at SoWa since 2007, but is returning this year with a completely redesigned collection of work. For Murrell, art comes down to enjoyment.

“I don’t make anything that I don’t like making,” Murrell says, explaining the movement away from his Masters in Ceramics degree from UMass Dartmouth. “That’s why I moved out of pottery and into mixed media. I like to change it up every time I get bored.”

Highlights of his new collection include intricate shadow boxes and his bestselling PO Box doorpieces. For the new shadowbox projects, Murrell starts by creating a design in Illustrator, which he gets laser-cut into wood, and then puts the pieces together, paints, and distresses them, garnishing the works with antique paper. There is a unique integrity to Murrell’s SoWa participation—he does 100 percent of his sales in person, with no online presence, calling SoWa Open Market, “home.”


sowa open market 2014 Helen Schroeder long

sowa open market 2014 Helen Schroeder

Helen Schroeder hand-collages paper to create each of her prints. / Photos by Margaret Burdge

Helen Schroeder: Linden Leaf Designs

This spring and summer, Schroeder will be showing both at SoWa (for the second year in a row) and the Rose Kennedy Greenway. Though originally from Minneapolis, Schroeder went to college at Northeastern University and says in her artist’s statement, “I love my second city something fierce,” which definitely comes across in her work. Her prints, made entirely from cut paper collage, are inspired by the city and its quirks. Schroeder particularly likes showing her food truck illustrations at SoWa Open Market because of their presence at the event.

“Each food truck has its own personality,” Schroeder says, “so it’s fun to play around with that.”

Though she has added new neighborhood prints to her collection, keep an eye out for new work she is planning to start: a series of “Boston monsters.” Schroeder, who teaches a pre-Kindergarten class when not working on her art, has an affinity for the whimsical and is interested in the idea of mythical character tied to a location, a concept she will use to create these Boston creatures.


sowa open market 2014 Rachel DeCavage long

sowa open market 2014 Rachel DeCavage

DeCavage’s designs. / Photos by Margaret Burdge

Rachel DeCavage: Cinder & Salt

DeCavage, who is a SoWa returnee, is bringing an entirely new set of designs to SoWa for 2014. One particular standout this season is her burgeoning collection of whale designs, including the neon pink orca above. DeCavage has increased her number of whales because she is donating 10 percent of purchases of whale items to Cetacean Society International to benefit the protection of whales.

The sweet and simple images on DeCavage’s clothes start as Sharpie drawings that she creates and then scans and silk-screens onto the fabric. Her most popular designs are an octopus and a tandem bicycle, for which she has introduced a complementary women’s pairing this season with the orange beach cruiser shown above.


sowa open market 2014 Nicole Kelley long

sowa open market 2014 Nicole Kelly

The wood table above highlights the Kelleys’ favorite aspects of their work: natural edges and asymmetrical lines. / Photos by Margaret Burdge

Nicole and Scott Kelley: [K] Modern Custom Designed Furniture

Two new kids on the block, Nicole and Scott Kelley, are the owners and creators at [K] Modern in Haverhill, and they create one-of-a-kind furniture.

“We’re a husband-and-wife team,” Nicole says. “Sometime’s it’s great, sometimes it’s hard.”

Nicole runs the business and designs the furniture, while Scott, who has been welding since high school, fuses the pieces. With a wide selection of small-scale furniture designed to fit the apartment lifestyle, this pair has a flare for the unique. Their most popular products are their stump tables, and they particularly like creating furniture with live edges, and artsy, asymmetrical lines. The couple does not do wholesale, but relishes in one-off or custom designs, using harvested materials and quality construction to create furniture designed to last a lifetime.


sowa open market 2014 Chelsea Miller long

sowa open market 2014 Chelsea Miller

Just a few of the various unique pieces of jewelry created by Miller. / Photos by Margaret Burdge

Chelsea Miller: Chelsea Miller Designs

If you can’t stand it when you purchase a necklace that you think is unique, and then see it on someone else a week later, Chelsea Miller has just the thing for you. Her materials are literally dug up from the ground in the form of ceramic and glass shards that are hundreds of years old, so they are the epitome of one-of-a-kind.

“I’ll never be able to find the exact same piece again,” Miller explains.

The path of her work began at Savannah College of Art & Design where Miller studied jewelry-making and her now-husband Will collected old bottles. Prepared with shovels, gloves, and buckets, she salvaged her pieces from the earth of the rundown railroad tracks by the school. With the motto of “reclaim, research, repurpose,” Miller is committed to finding her pieces and categorizing, filing, and logging the history of each piece through careful research so that she can pass the “journey” of the shard along to the wearer. Though she has been selling her jewelry at SoWa for three years, she has a completely new collection this season, one of the highlights being a new focus on found-glass pieces. Miller’s husband Will knaps (a technique Native Americans use to carve arrowheads) the glass they find to give it an interesting texture (see top right photo above). Miller is partial to the gold-edged jewelry, but the uniqueness of each individual piece makes it hard for her to pick favorites.


sowa open market 2014 Dawn Dishaw Ceramics long

sowa open market 2014 Dawn Dishaw Ceramics

Some of the pieces Dawn Dishaw has on display at SoWa. / Photos by Margaret Burdge

Dawn Dishaw: Dawn Dishaw Ceramics

This vendor displays the perfect mix of utility and design with her intricately hand-painted ceramic collection. The pieces are both hand-thrown and hand-painted using underglaze and a metal-tipped bottle. Dishaw gets the most creative satisfaction from making vases.

“They are a more complicated form, so I get to do more things with them and change the scaling with the painting in the curves,” she says.

Thanks to her interest in symmetry and organization, Dishaw’s pieces have a meticulous delicacy to them. For Dishaw, her art is about bringing everyday objects to an artistic level, which definitely shows in her most popular items: everyday mugs that make perfect gifts for friends or just for yourself. Be sure not to miss this SoWa first-timer as she will only be at the market for two more weeks.



SoWa Open Market takes place Sundays, May 4-October 26, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., at 450-460 Harrison Ave. For more info, visit newenglandopenmarkets.com.