In 2009, friends Briana Kohlbrenner and Vanessa Rose had a vision to create a marketplace in Syracuse, NY that would provide a different shopping experience than stores or other craft markets in the area offered. They saw a growing DIY trend online and began visiting handmade markets that appealed to their personal shopping tastes in nearby cities such as Rochester and Brooklyn. They wanted to bring that energy to Syracuse and offer people in this area an alternative venue to shop local and handmade, while also creating a space where artists and craftspeople in the area could showcase their creations. After months of research and planning, the Salt Market (originally called the Salt City Urban Art and Craft Market) was born. The event continues to grow each year.
Preparing and setting up for the first year was a true labor of love. Briana and Vanessa reached out to many friends and colleagues for support and advice. It was through this outreach that they found the market’s home for the first two years, the former Case Supply Building on the Near Westside of Syracuse. When cleaning out the Case Supply Building, they spent at least 8 hours shop-vacuuming years of warehouse dust, in addition to many other physically exhausting tasks. It took days of preparation and many helping hands but the result was sensational. On Saturday, October 24th, 2009, the Salt Market showcased 30 Central New York artists and craftspeople, presented local musicians who performed throughout the day, and saw 800 people pass through the doors. The response was overwhelmingly positive and the organizers were exhilarated by the experience. It was clear the Salt Market was fulfilling a need in Syracuse.
Over the next few years the Market continued to grow and develop stronger roots in the community. Two additional organizers, Stasya Erickson and Courtney Rile, were added to the group of Salty Ladies in 2010. Both women were proven leaders in developing community through the arts and are artists themselves. The Salt Market experienced different venue locations, moving from the Near Westside after year three to the Northside, higher attendance numbers (3,000+ in 2011,) and an increasing demand for more markets from visitors and vendors alike.
In response to requests from the community, in 2012 the Salty Ladies decided to pilot a second market. Playfully dubbed the ‘Pepper Market’, this event followed in the footsteps of Salt, but featured the special twist of showcasing 30 vendors selling wares $30 and under. The organizers were blown away by its successful debut and officially dubbed Pepper another annual market.
Briana Kohlbrenner, originally from Brooklyn, NY, relocated to Syracuse, NY with her husband in 2003 and happily calls this city home. She has a love and natural knack for producing a variety of art events all around town. She co-founded and co-directs several the Salt Market, Pepper Market, Salt City DISHES, the One Take Super 8 Event and owned a handmade boutique and gallery called Craft Chemistry from 2009-2013. Through her efforts as the co-chair for the 40 Below Public Arts Task Force in 2010-2011, she helped launch projects such as Arterie, Rack-Pack (art bike racks) and the Funky Flea. Since 2011 she’s been curating gallery exhibitions as the Program Associate for The Gallery at Onondaga Community College. She recently opened a new business called Echo that was initiated by four friends who have shared a work space as well created art installations together since 2010. In March of 2013 they enlarged their collaborative studio for additional artists and creative professionals to share and began programming events, markets, shows and happenings on a more regular basis.
Vanessa is a local educator and community enthusiast. A native of Syracuse, she is excited to see the city moving in a dynamic direction with individuals and communities working together to create vibrant neighborhoods. She wants to be a part of it all! Vanessa co-founded the Salt Market, co-chaired the 40 Below Public Arts Task Force with Briana from 2010-2011, co-producer of the Thumbs UPstate Improv Festival, and mom to three delicious kiddos.
Stasya Erickson moved to Syracuse, NY in 2005 to receive her BFA in painting from Syracuse University. After graduating, a partnership-based organization called Northside UP snatched her up to work for them. She draws, takes too many photographs and helps out with various creative projects in the city. She is passionate about Syracuse and co-produces projects such as Salt City DISHES.
After arriving from the Philadelphia area in 2002 to earn a degree in Video Art from Syracuse University (2004), Courtney Rile stayed in Syracuse to add to the growing art scene by working to organize, curate and archive exhibitions with Light Work, Spark and ThINC’s Company Gallery. Courtney then bought and fixed up a vacant house within the city, and spent the next 3 years working at Delavan Art Gallery where she helped to launch Th3, The Third Thursday, Syracuse’s monthly art night. In 2008, she co-founded “Contemporary Gallery,” a temporary contemporary art gallery on Harrison Street in Syracuse featuring the work of 30 NYS artists. This was followed by the launch of “Price Check,” a curatorial research project and investigation into the price of art across New York State. After taking a break to travel around the world in 2009, Rile came back to Syracuse and co-founded Daylight Blue Media, offering creative video, photo and design services. Courtney is currently working to create innovative videos and documentaries to promote local businesses and great causes, including Syracuse First, Society for New Music and Salt City DISHES. To check out her work, please visit the Daylight Blue Vimeo Channel.