The Alternative Gallery in Allentown hosts an art market on the third Thursday of every month for local artists to show their work and to bring the community together.
Brandon Wunder, the gallery’s founder and director, said the Third Thursday Art Market is a collaborative effort between the gallery, the Allentown Art Museum, Baum School of Art and the Allentown City Center. The events are held on the ArtsWalk, running from the Downtown Allentown Market to the ArtsWalk Pocket Park, and in the Arts Park.
According to Downtown Allentown’s website, “Third Thursday is a monthly community initiative meant for local art venues, artists, restaurants and businesses to collaborate for an evening of unique exploration.” The events are organized by the Downtown Allentown Business Alliance.
The markets were held on Aug. 18, Sept. 15 and Oct. 20. Wunder said inclimate weather caused the turnout of the August event to suffer, but artists still managed to do well with sales.
Wunder said the gallery does not charge the artists a fee to sell their work at the market.
“We’re trying to make it so that artists can make a living off of their talents and not have to squeeze it in between their jobs,” Wunder said.
Wunder said the art market is geared to work well with the other events already occurring at the Third Thursday gatherings. These include after-work drink specials, gallery tours, artist receptions and live music.
Artist Stephanie Orellana said she wants to engage newer artists and motivate them to take part in these events.
“A lot of times artists tend to just feel very discouraged that they can’t truly make a living from being an artist, and I want to change that,” Orellana said.
She said she has learned to not stress over curating a collection of items to sell and that bringing the work you like best will sell itself.
During the pandemic, Orellana said she experimented with nontraditional art forms due to the high demand of canvases. She painted on plants and wood pieces that were no longer being used. She found these projects sold better, and people were interested in hearing the stories behind them.
Jenna J, another artist who sells her work at the art market, has attended most of the Third Thursday events throughout the summer and the fall, selling paintings and prints. She said these events aim to bring more recognition to local artists and the town of Allentown.
Wunder said not all artists are fit for galleries — these events allow artists to join people where they already are and to explore a new clientele.
J said her experience attending art shows provided her with the experience necessary to be successful at the Third Thursday Art Market. When Wunder reached out to her to be a vendor, J thought about how it would benefit her businesses.
She said she typically does not need to prepare work in addition to what she already has created and can fill her table entirely with her art.
She complimented Wunder’s ability to host popular events.
Artists encouraged members of the community to come enjoy the last outdoor market of the year on Oct. 20 before the colder months.
“I think (people) should look forward to a lot of artists, lots of great music, and I think people really enjoy the fact that we have this last time before the winter season,” J said.
Wunder said there was plenty to be excited about for the event. In addition to unique art, attendees saw new and returning vendors, break dancers and a performance from the band BearSloth.
“It is important to let the community know that this is a cultural event more than anything, and if you are part of the community, you should attend this event,” Orellana said.