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What is a ‘Yart Sale,’ exactly? Somerville is hosting its first one

If you tapped into your inner artist during quarantine, now’s the chance to sell your work.

Somerville City Hall.City of Somerville

If you took up an artistic hobby like so many others while stuck indoors at the height of the pandemic, or if you’re a seasoned veteran with a lens, brush, or knitting needle, this might be the perfect chance to share — and perhaps even sell — your work with the community.

On August 14, Somerville is hosting its first “Yart Sale,” a citywide event that welcomes artists of all calibers to set up shop on their porches, or in their yards and driveways, and sell their artwork to passersby.

The event is a mix between the city’s annual pop-up musical gathering, PorchFest, and Open Studios, where artists open up their workspaces, in that attendees can hop from one neighborhood to the next throughout the day to see what’s on display.

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Officials see the “Yart Sale” as an ideal way for creative folks to showcase their talents without the hassle of having to promote and host a private art show and hoping people show up.

“What we are hoping is for it to look like a citywide art show, but also giving artists an opportunity to sell their work, especially after what we just went through” during the last year-and-a-half, said Iaritza Menjivar, events coordinator for the Somerville Arts Council, which is hosting the event. “It’s giving people a platform to make some commission off their work.”

The event will take place from noon to 6 p.m. There are no live performances allowed (”let’s save that enthusiasm for PorchFest,” officials said in a statement) and food can’t be sold.

“We didn’t want this event to take away from PorchFest, and we didn’t want live music to take away from the art that will be displayed,” Menjivar said.

But when it comes to what constitutes “art,” the options are mostly limitless. “Yart Sale” isn’t just for those skilled in the fine arts. Organizers are encouraging anyone who has tapped into their inner artist to sell their creations or collections this month.

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Or just show them off.

“A lot of artists haven’t had a space to show their work or sell their work because museums and galleries were closed for so long,” said Menjivar, who is a photographer. “This felt like a way to exhibit your work and sell your work in the comfort of your home.”

Mediums can include paintings, photography, ceramics, handmade objects like jewelry, pottery, quilts, or knitted items, and collectibles like coins, postcards, baseball cards, instruments, and magnets, organizers said.

Band merchandise like T-shirts or albums, as well as art tools, supplies, and art books, are also welcomed. Even plants made the list of items that can be sold.

“That one was a random one,” Menjivar said, laughing. “We were in a staff meeting and thinking about what’s acceptable and what’s not, and we were thinking about how people are into exchanging plants and figured we could include it and maybe bring another audience into the art world as well.”

Somerville isn’t the first city to turn its neighborhoods into an outdoor art gallery. “Yart Sales” have taken place in places like Illinois and Pennsylvania.

So far, about 50 artists have signed up and officials will be posting fliers around town this week to drum up more interest.

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“We will be doing a social media push and posting it on different Facebook groups and sharing it through newsletters,” Menjivar said. “It’s a new event for us, but more importantly it’s a new event for the public, and I think a lot of people are getting used to this new idea.”

The deadline to sign up is August 9. Those interested in selling and sharing their artwork can visit the art council’s website and fill out a Google form, including their location and what they plan to sell.

For those who don’t have enough space to display their wares, the city is encouraging participants to collaborate and share space.

Menjivar said an interactive map will be posted online later this month. The map, similar to ones used during PorchFest and other citywide events, will allow people to plan which houses they want to visit, as if on a self-guided tour.

“It makes it more accessible for the public,” Menjivar said, “but also helps the artists promote their work.”


Steve Annear can be reached at steve.annear@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.