We’ve all know Meghan Blake-Horst as the the owner of Absolutely Art, and now she is spreading her wings as one of the founders of MadCity Bazaar, the urban pop-up flea market that you keep hearing about. No matter where her professional career takes her, it’s clear she’ll always be truly invested in Madison, a steward of the arts, and a joy to all who know her. Meghan, a mother of two and hyper involved community leader, relishes the rare moment when she finds time to rest in a hammock or sneak in a nap. If you can persuade her to sing “Bohemian Rhapsody” at karaoke, she is sure to know every word. Get yourself out to the MadCity Bazaar and get to know the lovely and ambitious Meghan Blake-Horst!
Name 3 adjectives that describe your personality.
Outgoing, compassionate and understanding.
What was the first tape/record/CD you remember buying?
I think it was “Bohemian Rhapsody.” I had older siblings. They were 9 and 13 years older than me, so I probably got that when I was 10. Queen was what they were listening to. My friends thought I was crazy and that it was just terrible music.
Could you do karaoke to that song?
Oh yes. Would I? Whole other story. But I could, I could do it right her on the street. That’s how I bonded with my father-in-law. We sat and listed to “Bohemian Rhapsody” and just sat at the dining room table and sang the whole album.
What is your favorite smell?
Lemongrass to me is refreshing, relaxing and calming. It goes right into helping lull me into my guilty pleasure, napping.
What is the best gift you have ever received?
One of the best gifts that I have ever receive is that my parents chose to move to Madison and live in the neighborhood they lived in. They raised me on the near East side of Madison. When I look at the experiences I’ve had in my life due to the community I was raised in, I feel so thankful. I called my mom to thank her for that the other day. They raised me in the theater and arts communities and that to me is a huge gift. I mean, I could think of many material things that I’ve received that I’ve loved, and of course my children immediately popped into my head. But it all started with where I was raised and who I was raised by.
What rule do you enjoy breaking?
I’m a fast driver. I enjoy driving efficiently to where I’m going, which means I probably enjoy breaking the speed limit rules a little too much. But I drive attentively and I don’t text and drive.
How has art shaped your life?
Being raised in the theater community greatly influenced my life. It’s a very open and accepting community. I also separated myself from it as a kid. My mom was an actress, my dad was a writer, my sisters were singers, my brother was a drummer and I was a gymnast. But I realized that even though I did gymnastics, it was my artistic expression. Although I always considered myself an athlete rather than an artist. Being raised in this community and surrounded by art and creativity, really gave me a lot of critical thinking skills, acceptance, understanding of diversity, and seeing things from multiple perspectives. And that influences so many more things. Then the visual arts took on a whole other layer of that. I don’t consider myself an artist, I consider myself an art appreciator. And my strength of my organization and connection to be able to help artists.
What do you feel your role is in the Madison art scene?
Closing Absolutely Art and looking ahead to the future, I’m excited to take what I have learned and the relationships I have cultivated over the last nine years and take them to the next level to be able to help more people in a substantial and influential way. I’m optimistic about how it will all pan out and interested to see what that really means.
About MadCity Bazaar:
Sunday, July 20, 2014
10am – 4pm
Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce
615 E Washington Ave, Madison, Wisconsin 53701
For more information, visit MadCity Bazaar’s Facebook Page
How did the first bazaar go from an organizer’s standpoint?
We had a great response. We had 500 visitors and 15 vendors so that was really good, especially for the first show and for the amount of organization time we had. We put everything together in about 2 or 3 months. We came in after a lot of the vendors around town had already done their summer schedules. We tried to make sure not to double up on other big events but there was a lot going on that weekend. With all that considered, it exceeded my goals. People are excited about the idea. That’s what we keep hearing. I can feel it building.
Why did you decide to start the MadCity Bazaar and how did the idea come to fruition?
Joe Mingle is my business partner with MadCity Bazaar. In that short turnaround time we actually had to create a business as well. So it wasn’t just organizing the event in a short amount of time, it was actually creating a new entity as well, we created an LLC. Joe came to me with this idea of a pop-up flea market based on the Brooklyn Flea. This kept coming up in other conversations as the model for the public market, and it has a good concept. It’s an urban market that’s ever changing, taking a traditional flea market with an urban flare. We think our community is looking for this type of thing. Madison doesn’t have a flea market in this sense, so we wanted to fill that void. I’m very interested in the public market process, and what my part can be in that. This seemed like a great opportunity to create something that could become a part of the public market.
How did you choose a location for the bazaar?
We wanted it to be in the East Washington corridor. We knew that First and East Wash. was going to be one of the top choices for the public market, so we wanted it to be a trial in that area. How does it drive traffic, what does it look like? It was challenging as we presented ideas to property owners to have them want to partner. And as I was driving around, I was thinking what about the Chamber of Commerce? They have a really interesting lot. And they want to help small businesses. Economic development is key for them. So we presented them with the idea and they were very excited. As we looked at it, it has the urban power plant, and the accessibility to East Wash. MG&E was generous enough to lend us their parking lot. It’s accessible by bike, by car, by bus. So the location checked all of our boxes. And they donated the space. So that made the most sense financially. The tricky part is getting people to know where it is, even though they drive by it every day.
Do you have any plans to continue the bazaar through the fall or winter?
We don’t have any plans set right now. We want to get through these three and survey our vendors and look at the data. I’ve had a few people approach me about other locations around the city, and we’re not opposed to that, and there are a lot of opportunities. But we’re focusing on next spring, and spending the fall and winter planning and establishing more funding.
What would you like to see more of at the bazaar this weekend?
I’d like our number of visitors to double. My goal is 800 visitors. We’ve gotten some great publicity and Yelp is one of our media sponsors. I’m excited about the variety of vendors this weekend. My goal is to make it as successful as possible for them. The logistics on our end went smoothly last time. So really the goal is driving traffic so there are more shoppers. And that nobody gets a bad sunburn!