Wellness and creative arts fair Mercado Sagrado inspires those in search of the “canyon spirit”
Words by KATHRYN ROMEYN
Every fall, the multifaceted pop-up known as Mercado Sagrado takes over King Gillette Ranch in the Santa Monica Mountains with its locally handmade brand of modern hippie magic, delivering artisan products by makers in California and the West, in addition to workshops in healing and reiki; palm, tarot and oracle card reading; healthy cuisine; live music and so much more.
Since the first iteration in 2014, founder Heather Culp, a Topanga-dwelling former fashion and lifestyle photographer, has grown the festivities from 500 guests to now some 5,000, with past attendees including notables like Abbey Lee Kershaw, Zoe Lister Jones, Michelle Monaghan and Rashida Jones. She curates brands with true magnetism, calling the family-friendly event “an energetic exchange, as what you choose also chooses you,” year after year developing a playground for the discovery of the next big thing.
The sixth edition this past November was no different, showcasing another slew of must-know, consciously creative brands. Take Totem Home and its textural, globally informed homewares designed by Mar Vista-based prop and interiors stylist Kim Ficaro (who also happens to be Mercado Sagrado’s visual designer) and then produced by Oaxacan artisans in the dreamiest palette.
Raina J. Lee Ceramics showcased her organic, experimental, wheel-thrown pieces glazed in candy hues. (The goods are otherwise on display in the light-drenched timber treehouse shop behind Lee’s Mount Washington home, where they line hand-cut shelves.) A similarly bold, and enticing color palette marked the collection of textiles by Taryn Slawson, handwoven on her loom in Santa Fe. Her Tanu label rugs and wall hangings feature flashes of indigos, pinks, corals and blacks — rendered in hand-dyed hemp fiber — in strong geometric patterns that feel modern yet meaningful and are guaranteed to turn heads in any space.
Kara Thoms’ ethically produced ready-to-wear never failed to draw people’s attention, with simple but elegant tops, dresses, pants, jumpsuits and more in desert tones with names like Amaranth, Sage, Stone, Ochre and Honey. Orris Perfumery, which also has a Melrose Avenue storefront, proffered its made-in-L.A., plant essence-based potions (think transportive fragrances like Coyote Mint and Pinyon Pine). Meanwhile, Alison and Jay Carroll, the couple behind Wonder Valley emerged from their perch in the high desert near Joshua Tree to introduce marketplace-goers to their line of chic and luxuriant unisex skincare goods — cleansers, face and body oils, soaps and more — which celebrate their California-grown extra-virgin olive oil as the hero ingredient.
Regular attendees of Mercado Sagrado have come to expect not only great arts and crafts, but also exceptional, health-focused food. Culp adores Dark Horse’s vinaigrettes, mustards and other condiments, which incorporate adaptogens, ormus and even gold in products like its Rose Gold Wildflower Honey. “Chef Greg Arnold [also of Matthew Kenney’s Venice’s Plant Food and Wine] is an amazing alchemist with a unique approach,” she says of the man behind Dark Horse. “The honey comes from the mountains above Santa Barbara, and Greg was inspired by the ancient Chinese, who cooked rice with gold coins in it to mineralize their bodies.” And The Fullest’s Saffron Latte, a wellness elixir made from potent Middle Eastern spice, will continue to be the perfect daily ritual any time of year, not just during Mercado Sagrado.
“With the advent of conceptual art and popularity of critical theory we’ve somewhat lost our reverence for beauty and the art of the everyday,” Culp explains. “Our aim is to really honor both in the ancient and emergent.” Consider it mission accomplished.
Feature image: Organic ceramics crafted by RAINA J. LEE. All photos by Kate Berry.
Jan. 13, 2020
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