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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Civic Media Center’s Queer and Trans Flea creates safe space for local artists

20 local artists gathered Friday night to share their work

Tucked into the fairy light lit patio behind Gainesville’s Civic Media Center, artists and creatives gathered to share their work —  from crocheted bucket hats, stickers and prints, to strange oddities like preserved mice and realistic monsters built into boxes. 

Over 20 LGBTQ local artists gathered Friday to share and sell their creations at the CMC during the Queer and Trans Valentines Arts and Crafts Flea Market. 

Events like these create a safe space in the community for members of the LGBTQ community, JoJo Sacks, 26, said. She has made some of her closest friends through these events, she said. 

“[It’s nice] having the CMC community be present, especially because volunteers run the space, really keep things interesting and also help out at the events,” she said. “Our Gainesville queer community isn't massive and it's really cool to meet friends.”

Sacks, an artist and queer educator, said she organized the event. She previously worked for the CMC for four years, helping run other events, including a different flea market. This event was the third one she has organized. 

Sacks promoted her project FabricSnax, where she sells redesigned clothing, pins and also educates others on queerness at other local events. 

She’s previously participated in Artwalk, an event hosted by the Arts Association of Alachua County that offers nature walks with local artists booths set up along the way, and later decided to start organizing them herself in partnership with the CMC, she said.

First grade teacher and painter Diana Diaz, 34, uses her painting and drawing to work through struggles of imposter syndrome and negative self-confidence, she said. She surrounds herself with like-minded people through events like the flea market, she said, to create a safer environment for those like herself. 

Diaz considers everyone to be an artist — whether they’re actively creating or not, artists have their own medium through which they are able to express and share parts of themselves, she said. 

“There's a lot of privilege that enables me to make art in a world with so much systemic inequity, even as a queer femme of color,” Diaz said. “I still feel like it still takes some level of privilege for me to be able to have even the time to philosophize about these things and to have the energy and space to sit down and make art.”

After the flea market Sacks hosted at the CMC in December, many artists began reaching out to her to participate in future events. 

One artist, 24-year-old Diamond Moore, creates art based on childlike wonder, emotions and life experiences that she shares through stickers, stuffed animals, prints and cards. 

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The market required no fee for participation from the artist in order to make the event more accessible. Instead, the venue suggested sliding-scale donations from the artists. 

“It's a really good way to have people from the community come in and see creators who traditionally wouldn't be at bigger events,” Moore said. “This is a good opportunity for people who don't have the funds or capability to do bigger events.”

Ashley Sanguino, a 19-year-old UF sophomore, attended the event with her roommate. A fan of the CMC and its events, she said she was excited to experience local culture through the flea market. 

“In Gainesville, we've loved just getting to explore people who actually like to create just to create and get to share their heart with us,” Sanguino said.

Contact Gracey at Follow her on Twitter @graceydavis_.

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Gracey Davis

Gracey Davis is a UF journalism junior and Avenue staff writer. Gracey is a self-described girl boss, secretary for FMSA and a passionate Philly sports fan. If you're looking for her, try the Marston basement, where she often pretends she's a STEM major. 

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