Cait Danahy and Pat Dagle are no strangers to the Boston art scene. Since they were college students in Boston, they’ve created contemporary galleries that—on a student budget—still became the talk of the town. Now the pair runs Casablanc, a contemporary gallery space in Boston, and Blanc Agency, a branding and graphic design firm.
Their newest endeavor is Market at Casablanc, a space for artists and makers to lease studio space and sell their products to the public, as well as unite the small art community in Boston. More than a dozen studio-storefronts — ranging from photography studios to streetwear vendors — reside under Market’s roof. With sporadic bursts of palm tree wallpaper and neon accents, the space harkens more to retro Miami then Boston’s Newmarket neighborhood.
A rare haven for Boston-based artists
Danahy admits that it’s difficult to make money as an artist in Boston, so many creatives pack their bags for New York or Los Angeles in what she describes as “the artist’s pilgrimage.” Market provides Boston’s missing link—an affordable space for artists to produce and sell their work. “Seeing all of our friends interested in art and design moving away was the last piece of the puzzle,” Danahy says.
Paige Mulhern, an illustrative painter managing the creative team at the Best Bees Co., a full-service beekeeping company that maintains hives for businesses and homes, explains that renting studio space at Market was a natural next step for her career.
Mulhern reiterates that it can be difficult to ‘make it’ as an artist in Boston. Many of her classmates from MassArt have already embarked on the “artist’s pilgrimage.” After first hearing about the concept for Market, it was an easy sell. “I knew it was just what I needed to stay in Boston,” Mulhern says.
Mulhern notes that if all of the creatives are leaving, a strong art community in Boston can never find its footing. “Sticking around is essential to making it happen,” Mulhern says.
Collaboration is key
The community of makers at Market—albeit carefully curated—also mutually benefit from one another’s skills and products. When selecting new tenants for the space, Danahy thinks about what mediums are missing or who would work well together.
The accessibility to other makers intrinsic in Market’s model makes collaboration happen organically and fluidly — one shop can stock their goods in another’s storefront or the in-house photographer can shoot the latest collection for a shop down the hall.
Brothers Artisan Oil — housed right next door to Mulhern’s studio space — always needs wax to make their beard tamer balm, and thanks to Best Bees Co., Mulhern has easy access to it. “They want local wax, and I have lots of wax that I don’t know what to do with,” Mulhern says with a laugh. And Craft & Caro — the luxury retailer of men’s goods — stocks Brothers’ products in their space 100 yards away.
A new type of “mall”
For the consumer, Danahy explains, there is a value in seeing where products are made and getting the chance to interact with the maker. She notes that shopping for something unique and local overrules the chain-store convenience for many young people.
“There is a shift away from chain stores and globalized marketing,” Danahy says. “Our generation cares more about where our things come from.”
Danahy and Dagle have aimed to maneuverthese obstacles into Market — something that mutually benefits Boston artists looking to sell their work and an eager consumer base that seeks out unique products but doesn’t know where to find them.
Market’s innovative concept seems to be hitting the right notes. Tenants express a palpable excitement about the space, and crowds of buyers showed up to their latest “open market” in July. “People want to see what’s going on behind closed doors,” Danahy says. “We made a space where everything is on display.”
IF YOU GO:
Market at Casablanc
169 Norfolk Ave., Boston
Open Mon. – Sat. noon to6 p.m.