With an economic impact of $80 million, more than 500,000 visitors and 1,036 exhibiting artists, all covering 17 square blocks of downtown Ann Arbor, it’s no wonder the 53rd annual Ann Arbor Art Fairs are highly anticipated by artists and art aficionados from around the nation.
Created in 1960, the “Ann Arbor Street Fair, The Original,” is the oldest of the four fairs. Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair, State Street Area Art Fair and Ann Arbor’s South University Art Fair joined forces with “The Original” to create one giant cohesive fair.
“Each fair has its own personality,” said Laurie McCann, event coordinator for the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair.
“The directors of each fair join together and produce the one program. There’s great collaboration between the fairs. It works very well together.”
Adding credibility to the art and photography programs at Washtenaw Community College, students Mike Frieseman, Meghan Carpenter and Melvin Fuller will be displaying their works in the “Street Art Fair.”
Frieseman’s “The Sense of Food” focuses on human relationships with food, conveyed through the medium of digital art. Carpenter’s photography exhibition includes fine art black and white landscape photography. Fuller will be displaying his film-based black and white photography, which he hand printed in a darkroom onto fiber-based silver gelatin photographic paper. Their exhibits will be located at booth A101.
WHAT: Ann Arbor Art Fairs
WHEN: July 18-21 (Wed.-Sat.); Wed.-Fri. 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sat. 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
WHERE: A 17-square-block area in downtown Ann Arbor
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, the Original
(734) 994.5260; http://artfair.org
State Street Area Art Fair
(734) 663.6511; http://a2statestreetartfair.com
Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair
(734) 662.3382; http://theguild.org
Ann Arbor’s South University Art Fair
(734) 663.5300 http://a2southu.com
HOW TO GET AROUND:
Art Fair Shuttle: Frequency of service: Every 10-15 minutes; Wed.-Fri., 9 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sat., 9 a.m.-7 p.m.
Julia Gleich, Washtenaw’s Production Center assistant, has exhibited her paintings in past art fairs and understands the creative value of the process.
“This is a perfect opportunity for young people who are interested in doing an art fair. It prepares them for what it’s like to do it on your own and a chance to sell their art,” Gleich said. “It shows them a world they wouldn’t otherwise get to experience.”
The “New Art, New Artist” program within the “Street Art Fair” features 6-10 of Michigan’s most talented up-and-coming college student artists. The handpicked applicants receive a waived booth fee, use of a shared display tent and a free one-year membership to the National Association of Independent Artists Emerging Artists Program.
“Each student also has mentoring sessions with professional art fair artists. It’s really helpful,” Gleich said.
Maureen Riley, executive director of the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, anticipates meeting the new student artists and seeing their work.
“It’s really exciting to see the development of the next generation of art fair artists,” Riley said. “It’s fun to see the program provide the opportunity for students to participate at no cost.”
Each year 10 artists are given the “Award of Excellence.” Winners are judged by work technique, booth presentation and creativity. The 10 winners are each given a cash prize of $750.
The Townie Street Party is a kick-off to Art Fair week and a fundraising event for the educational and community outreach activities of the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair.
The party, located on East Washington Street between Thayer and Fletcher and on Ingalls Mall, is set to take place on July 16 and features an assortment of entertainment. Activities include live music, an Art Activity Zone, where you can create free take-home art projects, and a look at the Kids’ Art Fair showcasing the work of young artists between grades 3-8.
The Art Fairs open on July 18 and a $1 ride-all-day trolley ticket that links all the fairs together with air-conditioned transport between them.
For this year’s event, a smart-phone app has been created for visitors to navigate their way through each fair. The app includes interactive maps, searchable artist databases and a schedule of music performers, local restaurants and parking information. The app is available for free on the iPhone.
“For me, the art fair is about seeing old friends, old artists and new ones, seeing how their work has changed and grew and seeing new art,” Riley said.
“Each fair has a different atmosphere. Ann Arbor in July is the only place in the country that you’ll have the opportunity to see this much art.”