Abby Hoover
Managing Editor

On Sunday, April 11, makers, artists and small business owners assembled on Brooklyn Avenue between Lexington and Minnie avenues for the Strawberry Swing Indie Craft Fair. After more than a year of Zoom meetings, postponed events and distancing, the intersection was full of life.

“Our friends over at FMK and PH Coffee asked me to,” said Katie Mabry Van Dieren, Owner and Curator of Strawberry Swing, on how the location was chosen. “We pop up all over the metro, this is our first time here, though.”

Van Dieren said while they normally “pop up” on main roads, or at venues like the Majors House at 83rd and State Line Road, they had lots of visitors despite less drive-by traffic. The event was originally scheduled for Saturday, April 10, but was postponed until the next day due to rain.

“We haven’t really been inner-city in a neighborhood like this, so it’s pretty fun,” Van Dieren said. “It’s been awesome, I’m so excited, and I tried to make sure I had a really diverse group of vendors. Some of our vendors grew up here and so they’re so excited to return.”

Indian Mound resident Janelle Crawford-Hine, who has been a vendor at Strawberry Swing events in the past, picked up linoleum cuts about four years ago. She went to school for illustration, but thought her current medium was too time consuming of a process until her daughter was born.

“Now, it’s like the only way,” Crawford-Hine said about printmaking. She recently reintroduced watercoloring to her prints.

Her body of work ranges from diverse depictions of motherhood and the human body, to lettering, food and nature.

“When we moved to the historic Northeast, I was really hoping more of these things would happen here,” Crawford-Hine said. “We had a friend who lived in the neighborhood and that was part of the reason we chose to move to this neighborhood.”

She had a sense that the neighborhood was “coming up” and that people wanted to fix up the neighborhood’s historic houses and learn the history, not just tear it out. Crawford-Hine is excited to see more events like Sunday’s to bring out the community.

“When PH Coffee started renovating, it was like, ‘Yes! This is really happening,’ and seeing all the neighborhood gardens and how active this neighborhood is in helping each other out has been really awesome,” Crawford-Hine said.

A familiar face to Northeast News readers, Erika Noguera, owner of Doña Fina Café, set up a booth at Strawberry Swing to offer her coffee and the intricate artwork of her partner, Chico Sierra. Noguera sources the beans from her family farm in Guatemala. In preparation for one day opening her café, she recently began roasting her own coffee beans, and is working on tweaking the process to perfection.

PH Coffee, who regularly adds events to Northeast’s weekend calendar, hosted the Cheesy Street food truck, had live music and opened its FMK Gallery to visitors from across the city.

Deanna Muñoz of Midwest Chicana grew up in Northeast Kansas City. The CEO and founder of Latino Arts Foundation, she was featured on Season 4, Episode 6 of Queer Eye Kansas City.

“We lived here for about 10 years, and I moved everywhere… if you talk about anywhere in Kansas City I probably touched it – that was in the urban area,” Muñoz said.

Although they moved upwards of 25 times during her childhood, she said her family met most of their long lasting friends in Northeast.

“I absolutely love it, and that’s why when Katie asked me to be part of it and said it was in Northeast, it feels like coming home,” Muñoz said. “You can actually be part of your community and show your community what you’re doing, and then hopefully inspire others in the community as well. When I was growing up, I didn’t see anything like this.”

She said the Northeast of her childhood didn’t have pop-ups, small businesses, or leaders in the arts who looked like her.

Muñoz began making jewelry because COVID-19 provided her time to reflect. Following the passing of her mother and brother within days of each other last October, she said using art as therapy got her through.

“Since then it’s been my go-to thing,” Muñoz said. “I don’t really make it to make money, I just feel it and I love it, and I have passion for it. Whenever people buy my stuff, I say they’re getting a little piece of me, probably some tears and some laughter, and some stories.”

The Latino Arts Foundation is hosting its own pop-up event for Latinx artists and makers next Saturday, April17, in its space at 1132 Oak St. from 11-4 p.m.

The vendors joined Art Garden KC, a group of Northeast artists who began gathering on Sundays across from PH Coffee just a few weeks ago. A wide variety of mediums were offered, from designer and illustrator Daisy Escamilla’s work to the custom painted shoes of Diamond Harris.