The Agora Borealis, a local artist’s marketplace located at 421 Lake Street, will celebrate its Grand Opening – along with several other businesses that are opening nearby – during a public event called Cirque du Lake on Thursday, July 17. Following the Grand Opening, The Agora Borealis will be open to the public, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.
Owner Katy Larsen showed me around the in-progress space recently, sharing some insights into how this unique business came to be and the role that she sees it playing in the community. The space itself, a 3,000 square foot room that housed a service station in the 1940s, is inspiring. With cool textures on the floors and walls, high ceilings and two large skylights, the building has the perfect character for a local art market. Out back, murals are being painted and gardens are going in. There’s a lot left to do before July 17, but the place already feels hip.
Larsen, who comes from a family of artists and moved to Shreveport in 2009, is business-minded and serious about the place. Talking to her, one does not get the impression that this project is a lark or a hobby of any sort.
“We want to use this space not only as a marketplace, but also as a way to educate the public on the benefits of buying local,” Larsen told me. “We’ll feature local art and handmade items like soaps, pins, jewelry, candles and furniture, and they’ll be available on a year-round basis.”
Larsen cited local artists like leather journal maker Michael Graham, glass artist Contina Pearson and illustrator Jeremy Johnson/Toomasooba as examples of artists whose work will be available at The Agora Borealis. Larsen works with artists on a sales commission basis – it isn’t a “booth rental” scenario. Contact info for the store can be found on its Facebook page.
So, will The Agora Borealis be like a brick-and-mortar incarnation of something like the tremendously popular Texas Avenue Makers Fair? I arrived thinking that would be the case, but left under the impression that a serious curatorial eye – or eyes, specifically those of Larsen and her team – would go into identifying artists whose work would fit in on their sales floor. I also left thinking that this may be the most exciting business opening in downtown Shreveport in years.