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January 19th, 2009
Saturday Market attracts dragonfly photos, Tutsi folklore and more

News Reporter

Craftsmen, artists and musicians assembled Saturday afternoon in the yard of Tantra Coffeehouse to share and sell their work. The event was the third Saturday Market to occur at the coffee shop, which since its founding about two years ago has spawned numerous activities ranging from poetry readings to unicycle football games.

“When you go to an arts and crafts festival, you have no idea what’s going to be there, and that’s part of the fun of it, that’s part of the adventure,” said David Garza, a local musician who performed at the market. “You’re already in the mood for seeing things you’ve never seen before, so when you hear something you’ve never heard before on stage, it just goes right into that – your whole mindset is, hey, this is an eclectic gathering, let’s see what happens. The people selling stuff are sort of like the chunks of meat and the potatoes and carrots, and the musicians are like the broth. They’re making it into soup, they’re bringing it all together.”

Other musicians to have played at the market include Merlin Scott and Carrie Ann Buchanan. Vendor Scott Mitchell, owner of several cottage industries, set up a table crowded with dozens of matted and framed damselfly and dragonfly photographs, most of which he’d taken in his backyard.

Mitchell, who unhesitatingly identified the common names and behavioral traits of each specimen, said his foray into the world of the bright-bodied insects began when he grew tired of dealing with his soggy, drainage-challenged yard.

“I had my friend Ron Parker come with a backhoe and sculpt it into a pond right about same time I got a digital camera,” said Mitchell. “And the dragonflies just started showing up, so I started hanging out with them. Every day I’d go out for the first few weeks and there would be one I didn’t recognize, so I ended up having to go to the library and getting a book. So a new hobby was born.”

Mitchell pointed to a propped-up photograph of a relatively squat, amber-colored dragonfly on the corner of the table.

“This fellow here is a relative newcomer to San Marcos,” Mitchell said. “He’s known as a Slough Amberwing. He’s actually a tropical species that’s extending its range northward. So far, my Amberwings are the farthest north they’ve been recorded in Texas. But it won’t be long before someone spots them in Austin.”

Mitchell said he has been in contact with University of Texas Austin professor John Abbott, a noted Odonata specialist and author of the book on dragonflies and damselflies Mitchell happened to check out at the city library.

“It was great to be vetted by John Abbott himself,” said Mitchell. “He was very excited to know that another population of Amberwings had been sighted here in Texas even further northward.”

Baskets and plate holders made in the traditional styles of Rwanda, in addition to cards and pictures bearing images from Tutsi folklore, adorned a table near the musician’s stage. The items were imported by San Marcos resident Jean Claude Yannick from his Tutsi village.

Yannick’s adoptive parents sat behind the table. Jean Claude, owner of World Artisan Beauty, lost his parents during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. He was smuggled out of Rwanda under the hood of a Volkswagen by a Catholic missionary.

“The cards and art products are all made out of banana leaves and banana tree products,” said Jonna Beck, Jean Claude’s sister. “The people from the village he came from makes these, and he brings them over and sells them here. He’s done pretty well over here. He originally came to San Marcos to go to Texas State.”

Kateri Rose, founder and organizer of the Saturday Market, said the event was inspired in part by the Tuesday farmer’s market off of C.M. Allen Parkway.

“They did have some jewelry and lotions and stuff, but they only allowed one kind of every vendor,” said Rose. “But if you had vegetables, there were three other people selling tomatoes. And I didn’t quite think that was fair. I love their market, I love what they’re doing, but I wanted definitely more artists, and so I talked to Nathan (Todd, the owner) at Tantra and I said, ‘Hey, I want to do a Saturday market, I want everyone to come, I want music, I want this to be an event. People are going to come here. This is what they’re going to do on a Saturday. It’s not just they’re going to stop in and by some veggies. They’re going to hang out.’ I wanted it to be really community oriented.”

Other products sold at the market included clothing, jewelry, paintings, semi-precious stones, candles, massage oil and soap, among other items. Rose said fruits and vegetables may appear at future markets, though prepared food may have to wait, as it is already sold at Tantra.

“If the community supports this and it gets up and going, then Tantra and I can renegotiate the food thing and we can talk about food licenses and we can have that here, which would be really cool because I think that would bring a lot of people in,” said Rose.

As adults perused the diverse items for sale and sipped coffee while chatting and listening to the music onstage, children scurried about and occupied the play area in the yard at Tantra. Rose said she is looking for performers whose acts are geared towards children.

“There are kids here, and I definitely want to have a time slot just for them,” said Rose.

After his set was over, Garza relaxed at one of Tantra’s porch tables and engaged in the kind of conversation fairly common at Tantra, the atmosphere of which has a way of loosening tongues for philosophy, politics and religion. Garza said much of the music he writes and performs is inspired by “synchronicity” and “magic nature.” He offered some examples of each, prompted by the subject of Mitchell’s dragonflies and damselflies.

“I was down at the (San Marcos) River once,” said Garza. “I was reading this book. I was laying in the grass where all the girls lay out. (The book said) ‘something magic happened right now, at this moment,’ or something like that, and as soon as I read it, this damselfly landed on my page. And then he flew away and he grabbed a gnat in like half a second, and came and dispatched it — basically just went [crunch, crunch], ate the butt and the head off, and then there was this thorax of a gnat on my page…And then he literally flew backwards and frontwards and he had another gnat, ate the head and butt off, and dropped another carcass on my page, I mean a little teeny carcass…and it was just so funny, he was so nonchalant…you’d see the little thorax with the wings stuck in this weird position like the thing went, ‘aahhh!’ It’s like the terror of the gnat was captured in the way those wings were set.”

Because Garza is moving to San Miguel, Mexico, where he used to live, in about a week, he will play a special concert at the Root Cellar Wednesday from 7 p.m.-9 p.m. The event is free, but attendees are encouraged to contribute $5, which Garza said will go towards paying for gas during his trip.

Also Available Saturday was a unique service absent from last month’s market: hypnotic trance. James Hazlerig, a hypnotist from Bastrop, offered free introductory sessions at his booth.

Though he admitted he is not a medical professional or licensed counselor, Hazlerig said clients attempting to overcome irrational fears, build self-esteem, prepare for labor, and quit smoking have benefited from his sessions. Hazlerig said helping clients engaged in spiritual development sometimes involves entering into a form of trance himself, harkening back to an ancient form of therapy.

“A hypnotist is a shaman in a necktie,” Hazlerig said.

Hazlerig’s wife, Joyce Hazlerig, who hand-makes elaborate brooches, barrettes hair wraps and bags, offered her work for sale at another booth. Some of her creations, such as her sculptures and kid’s toys, involve many hours of needle felting by hand. A customer pointed at a felt barrette shaped like the face of a wide-eyed creature fringed all around with white hair, and asked what it was.

“It’s a lemur,” Hazlerig said. “He was supposed to be a raccoon, but then he wanted to be a lemur.”

San Marcos resident Istvan Bathory occupied a table at the market last month where he sold soap, massage oils, candles and shiitake mushroom spawn. He spoke enthusiastically about fungi, the study of which he would like to pursue at Kent State University after he completes his botany degree at Texas State.

Bathory said research indicates some mushrooms contain chemicals which inhibit cancer cell growth, and other types of fungi produce enzymes with the ability to decompose diesel and petroleum, thereby restoring polluted areas. Bathory said people can derive spiritual benefits from mushrooms containing psilocybin, echoing a recent Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine study.

“(Psilocybin) is not something to be thrown around lightly; it’s a very powerful tool for developing your consciousness and for understanding this world,” said Bathory, who likened the benefits to the biosphere provided by fungi to something he would like to see more of in the modern world: independent local economies with little environmental impact.

“That’s exactly what we’re doing here (at the Saturday Market): keeping things local, self-sustaining,” Bathory said.

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