The Big Heap comes to Tucson for the first time this week. The big what? Gillian Drummond reports.
The organizers describe it as “a meandering village of uniqueness.” One of its visitors called it a “vintage Woodstock”.
The Big Heap is the baby of friends Mickey Meulenbeek , a gallery owner and interior designer, and Lori Cowherd, an artist and graphic designer. After meeting in their home town of Cave Creek, AZ, the two began the monthly Thieves Market flea market. Thieves Market has been named one of the best flea markets in the country by The Huffington Post. Then they started The Big Heap, a three-day curated event that brings together artists, pickers and dealers.
The Big Heap events in Scottsdale and Flagstaff attract vendors and ‘pickers’ from many different states. This week it makes its debut at Old Tucson Studios on April 11 and 12.
Vintage has featured more and more heavily in their event, say Lori and Mickey, largely because they both like the mid-century aesthetic. (Micki is a former friend of Tucson-based mid century furniture designer Max Gottschalk).
Here are our picks of what to love at The Big Heap:
Aaron Voigt. This metal artist from Mesa, Arizona learned his welding skills from his father. He constructs his retro-style tin pieces – mostly robots – from machines, aircraft, cars and household fixtures, finding them at junk yards and swap meets. “The robots have the characteristics of an old tin toy,” he says, explaining their popularity with the public. His pieces sell from $25 up to $6000. Aaron’s work is currently on display at Terminal 4’s Mosaic Gallery at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. You can also find him at Popcycle in Tucson.
Redhead Sadie Vintage. Jenny Kuller describes her Phoenix boutique as “like shopping at your favorite grandma’s house”. She loves anything that reminds her of her grandmothers and aunties, from the early ‘60s and further back. She carries vintage clothing, accessories and jewelry.
Bottle Rocket Design. This Tucson company makes glassware, lighting and, now, concrete planters from re-purposed bottles. The planters are made from concrete with 75% recycled glass and molded using reclaimed plastic and Styrofoam molds. Read more about them here.
The Tucson Junk Girls. “They” are Sheri Gribbs of Reloved Junk, Kassandra Labonte of Painted Lovely and Julie Peterson of Junkaddicts. Three years ago they started fixing up and selling pieces they had been collecting for years. At The Big Heap, look out for some unique side tables and reupholstered chairs. They have a booth at 22nd Street Antique Mall and in April two of them plus a couple of other fixer-uppers open No4 and Company, a store in Green Valley.
* For more information and vendors, visit thebigheap.com