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Central Flea market highlights Afro-centric talent

Celina Colby
Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
Central Flea market highlights Afro-centric talent
Artists display their wares at Central Flea in Cambridge’s Central Square.

By day, Lynae Brayboy, M.D. works at Women & Infants’ Fertility Center in Providence, Rhode Island. By night, she makes sterling silver hair accessories via a bygone wax-casting process for her side business Bijouterie Bougere. On Saturday, Aug. 27, she was selling her wares for the first time at Boston’s newest vintage and artisan market, Central Flea, located in Cambridge’s Central Square.

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Bitjouterie Bougere accessories feature intricate designs and the sturdy construction of artisan craftsmanship. Brayboy chose to work in silver because of its weight, which helps reduce hair shrinkage, and its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

She says she began making pieces for African American women as a celebration of their culture and often-contested hair. Her catalog includes hair beads of multiple sizes, along with braid cuffs and discs, each with a unique, but subtle pattern. “It’s kind of a grown up version of braids and beads,” Brayboy says.

Central Flea, organized by New England Open Markets and Central Square Business Association, is held once a month to celebrate local urban and Afro-centric artists, makers and entrepreneurs like Brayboy. In addition to shopping, the all-day event features live music, nonprofit information booths, food trucks and graffiti art performances.

Michael Monestime, executive director of the CSBA, said in a statement, “We wanted to make it 100 percent authentic to Central Square. We wanted something for everybody — regardless of age, race or class.” Though less impactful than Dudley’s Black Market, Central Flea is a big upgrade from SoWa’s increasingly gentrified weekly offerings.

Secondhand vendors and makers alike are encouraged to participate, resulting in a wide array of merchandise, from vintage fisherman sweaters and antique coke bottles to homemade honey and rows of freshly painted canvases.

Since March, Sarah Palmer, a Boston-based oil painter, has contributed to those canvases at the market. Her intimate portraits in black and white often depict family and friends. She shows off her favorite piece, a painting of her daughter, with pride. “I’m hoping to capture the essence of their life,” she says. Palmer’s father was an artist and painting is a way for her to honor his memory while pursuing her creative passions. She describes selling her work at the market as empowering. “It’s nice to know you can make a living doing what you love,” she says.

Central Flea runs again Sept. 24 and Oct. 29 at 95 Prospect St., Central Square. Interested vendors can apply at any time and spaces run as low as $40 for a 10 x 10 tent.

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