For more than 50 years, the shelves of the West End Market held vegetables, snacks and other food essentials.
Now, for at least four days, the iconic grocery store on the corner of Lemon and Mary streets will host ceramics, watercolors paintings and a wide variety of art made in Lancaster.
From Thursday August 25 to Sunday August 28, the market within a market will feature works by nearly 45 vendors, with free entry and extended hours for those whose working hours don’t allow them to experience a regular First Friday Art Crawl.
“Young people, people in their twenties, thirties and teenagers, we all work full time and work in the restaurant industry, you know… First Friday ending at 8 p.m. is not for them,” Andrew says Silvius, while introducing the West End Market space. “Their fans can’t come and see their, their families cannot come to see them. When something only lasts a day for a short time, people can miss things, and I wanted to give everyone the opportunity to do that here.
Even though the event is technically in conjunction with the city of Lancaster’s annual Indie Retail Week, it is maybe even more indie than “Indie” – the market is not listed on the Lancaster City Alliance website, but it is arguably the “biggest” retail event taking place during the week. It could be that the state of the market isn’t currently screaming “Extravaganza!”
The market was sold in 2021 by its former owners, the Huber family. In recent times, the market has undergone heavy construction, both inside and outside. The innards of the grocery store again see much the same as before it closed – shelves intact, a “Spongebob Square pants“Have milk?” poster, a computer in the back running Windows 98, which was never turned off when the previous the owners have left.
Standing by the deli counter, Silvius reminisces about his early days walking to school past the market, stopping to buy the end caps of sweet bologna, too small to make a full slice but perfectly sized for a pick-me-up snack.
For Silvius, an artist who also goes by “Crumbs” and who recently painted a large mural on the garage at the corner of Duke and Chestnut streets, it is a perfect place.
“It’s the look I am trying to go there, I want it to feel like we walked in with ski masks and cut the chains and had a great show,” Silvius says with a smile.
Silvius, who previously owned The Dapphaus on King Street, secured the spot with the help of his friend Chris Caldwell, owner of Hush Money Bikes and future occupant of the warehouse space attached to the market. A sense of community pescape art mmarket in just about every facet of the event, from the selectionedit list artists to seed funding.
The artist Adam Serrano, who today I liven West Reading, but remains a Lancaster artistic mainstay, helped Silvius create artwork which later sold and helped fund the majority of the event’s start-up costs. The rest came from neighbors in the buildings opposite, by Brendee Irish Pub, who agreed to co-sponsor the event after Silvius painted some of their bins.
Silvius has spends his last days cleaning and arranging the space so the artists can get comfortable, while continuing to create the art he will sell himself. Silvius says that since there are no selling costs, it is has been ask artists to attendt in cleaning or giving water to the event.
“Sil and I, and the various other people who do these things, we can’t do great things if the people around us aren’t doing great things,” Serrano says of Lancaster’s strong artistic community. “For this event, it is hard for me to go sweep the place or whitewash the walls or whatever (when I am while reading). I invested a lot in my events, and Sil was very empathetic and said, “Man, I just want you to be a salesman, I don’t want you to stress out about problem solving.” Sounds hilarious, but he demoted me host and muscle to a vendor, and it was great.
Although not all performers will be physically present for all four days, many will have their wares available with the option at purchase Going through CashApp or Venmo in their absence. For those familiar with the tight space of the West End Market, it can be difficult to know where the sheer amount of artwork from dozens of artists will go. (“We’re going to play with space,” Silvius says, standing by the old meat freezer. “I’m so excited for this Monday night — sarcastically — that 44 people are arguing over who’s going where”).
Although the artists’ work does not share a common theme, many have cut their teeth on Lancaster’s thriving art market scene, including the regular markets held at Beer Wall on Prince and Phantom Power in Millersville. They include solo artists such as Bruce Banter, Jordan Rainey and Jason Allen Berlet, to local brands such as clothing company Weird N Woke Clothing and Sneaker Fiend Customs, a sneaker and apparel company.
Despite the late hours of the market, Silvius wanted to point out to everyone involved that this is not designed as a party – it is the culmination of many hard workand it should be taken seriously.
“It won’t be a party and it won’t be a bar, but it will be an event,” says Silvius. “When you are do an event at, say, Tellus360 at 12 p.m., yeah, it is a big momentbut you are not necessarily the focus of anyone’s afternoon. The afternoon focuses on drinks and brunch, “Sunday Funday”. No one necessarily wants to walk around with a 16 par30 inches painting or spend that kind of money. When you do something for the evening, then you have like, the woman calling them husband or wife, saying, ‘Hey, let’s have a few drinks and then go to this market.’ It becomes more special than just bumping into it. It gives people a reason to prepare.”
The intensely local nature of the event extends to its poster, highlighting the recognizable ‘West End Market’ signage. During the recent heat wave, Silvius proudly hanged dozens of posters promoting the event throughout the city.
There was just one problem.
“I get 100 posters printed and I hang about 71 a day when it’s about 96 degrees,” says Silvius. “I will be back here and Adam said, ‘You don’t have the address on it.’ They are on every block of this damn town, and I don’t have the address on one of them. I always forget that everyone is not from here.”