We know Dallasites love tamales, but if you didn't grow up filling them with family, making your own can seem pretty intimidating. What if you could learn from an experienced instructor teaching entirely for free? That's just one of the many services a new outdoor market plans to provide when it debuts Friday.
First, we need to break some hard news: Commerce Street Night Market's inaugural pop-up cooking class booked up quickly. Materials and space were capped at 20 students, each of whom jumped on the opportunity to learn Masa for the Masses: The Art of Making Tamales from John Hernandez, owner of Casa Masa. So did the event's other class, Fetching Fascinators: Create Your Own Floral hair Accessory, taught by Esther Cho, owner of Vintage Crown Collection.
But, even though it's too late for hands-on participation this month, patrons of the inaugural market can still listen and observe the skill-sharing. It's part of the market's goal to inspire and encourage connections between local artists and business owners with their surrounding community.
Debuting Friday, Commerce Street Night Market is a new monthly series from Little D Markets, the organizer behind popular predecessors Urban Bazaar on Bishop in Oak Cliff and Little D at Community Beer Company in the Design District. Originally founded in 2007 by Julie McCullough, Little D took over the production of Urban Bazaar in 2014.
The brainchild of owner/founder and Oak Cliff resident Monica Diodati, and Little D Markets' various projects are a response to outdoor shop culture she'd seen while traveling.
"A lot of cities have pop-up markets and make it fun to walk around and activate an area for a weekend or a night," she says. "I wanted to see that more in my neighborhood."
Taking place in the Alta West Commerce pavilion -- that's the metal structure adjacent to The Foundry / Chicken Scratch -- the market will include a mixture of locally created art and items for sale by small retailers like growlers, jewelry, clothing, pet goods and home decor. See an extensive list here.
Food and drink-wise, there will be treats from vendors like Steel City Pops, L's Amourx Macarons, Dallas Caramel Company and The Theodore; savory foods from Down to Earth Barbecue, Chicken Scratch and Casa Masa tamales; and an elaborate, large-scale art installation from Wheron Art. Since shopping's more fun with a drink in hand, the Foundry's covering bar duties.
Dallas artist Will Heron -- founder of the Wheron collective, which recently opened the nearby gallery/hand-out, The Platform -- has teased his Toiletrees installation on social media; it features succulents and cacti in re-envisioned sink, bathtub and, yes, toilet planters. Diodati describes the project as massive, with elements climbing all the way to the ceiling, including a large light element -- a lucky byproduct of the market's expansive space. It will be flanked by sculptures from Kate Firth Studio.
Planned for the last Friday of each month through December, the Commerce Street Night Market is full of ambition. For future events, Diodati is hopeful to incorporate local performers, live music and more classes or public demonstrations -- anything from homebrewing basics to screenprinting on fabric -- and 100 percent of vendor fees ($40 per booth) will go directly to paying artists and performers.
"It's zero profit, and that's how we're trying to keep it," she says. "More vendors mean more things we can add and more ways we can work with the local artist community."
Plan your life: The inaugural Commerce Street Night Market debuts Friday, June 24, from 6-10 p.m. at 444 West Commerce in Dallas. Catch it monthly through December.