February’s OLIO at the Kreuser Gallery. (Courtesy of OLIO, photo by Max Anderson)

OLIO pop-ups point out community creativity

March 3, 2020

OLIO: a highly spiced stew of various meats and vegetables originating from Spain or Portugal; a miscellaneous collection of things.

This was the name that Abigail Forgath and Charlie Claus landed on when naming their pop-up market that started last May.

What began as a small gathering of artists outside the Peak Place coffee shop has grown into one of the only monthly pop-up markets in Colorado Springs. It features over 20 creatives in trendy coffee shops, bars and art galleries.

“Our goal was to feature the best creatives that we have in town in some really fun spaces throughout our city,” Forgath said. And she truly means to feature the best. On average, OLIO only accepts 20 percent of the applications that come in for featured makers.

“We are looking for makers that are honing-in on their craft; ones that really care about what they’re making,” Forgath said.

She wants to curate a space that patrons enjoy every moment. Every week, she and Claus mull over which patrons would fit best with the space, as well as make sure that different makers are featured every month. In addition, they only have one to two makers of each genre so that there is never a competitive energy and so that patrons are not over saturated with the same goods.

“It makes OLIO really unique every time you come,” Forgath said. More than anything, she wants OLIO to be a celebration of makers and artists while bettering everyone, and it is that bettering everyone that really stood out with Claus.

“It’s easier to support bigger companies, but is it ethical?” Claus asked, “There is so much proof behind enriching your community and putting your dollar back in your community.”

While curation is important for Claus, she quickly deferred to Forgath about such matters. For her, it was about the community element that she wanted to talk about the most.

When she talks about OLIO’s makers, it is like she is talking about her friends, and that is because they are her friends, or at least they will be by the time the market ends.

At the last pop-up, Claus could be seen walking around, carrying someone’s baby while chatting with anyone and everyone that came through their doors.

“You can feel the compassion and the energy that people put into their work,” she said while reflecting on all the artists they have brought together, and neither of them could have done this alone. OLIO really is just as much a celebration of Forgath and Claus’ synthesis as it is of the creatives in Colorado Springs.

Their different focuses and strengths come together to serve OLIO, just as OLIO brings makers together to enrich the community.

“More than anything,” Forgath said, “I think OLIO is helping people realize that there are creatives in your midst, and they are worth supporting, worth learning their story and worth spending your money on.”

OLIO’s next pop-up market is going to be Friday, March 6 at The Machine Shop art gallery, which means that you will get to encounter both OLIO and Colorado Spring’s First Friday — a monthly event where nearly all the galleries in Colorado Springs are free.

Doors will open at 5:30 p.m., and the Vegan Van, a food truck from Denver, is coming down for this pop-up. You will not want to miss it. If you are looking to be a featured maker at OLIO, you can find their application at oliomarkets.com.