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An unexpected art destination: Ypsilanti

Ypsilanti is booming with artists and makers.
Ypsilanti is booming with artists and makers. (Destination Ann Arbor)

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YPSILANTI, Mich. – Ypsilanti is positively bursting with arts and culture.

One thing you may not know about Ypsilanti is just how many art galleries, rotating art displays, arts festivals and art-focused shops we have. There is always somewhere to view -- and purchase -- the latest from local artists and beautiful and thought-provoking exhibitions are constantly on display here in Ypsi.

Read on, and perhaps find the next Ypsi addition for your home gallery.

22 North Gallery, founded in 2015 and located downtown at 22 North Huron St., is an art gallery, music venue, and meeting space for artists of all sorts. The exhibition space, under the guidance of gallery director Maggie Spencer and gallery partner Nan Plummer, focuses on collaborating with established, emerging, and under-recognized visual artists in the I-75-US 23 corridor from central Kentucky to Northern Michigan. 22 North also hosts musical performances in an intimate house concert setting. Hours and exhibitions vary. Contact the gallery for current information.

At the Riverside Arts Center, located at 76 N. Huron, you’ll find rotating monthly exhibits and related events in the North Gallery. The gallery is open on Thursdays and Fridays from 3 p.m.-8 p.m., and Saturdays from noon to 5 p.m., and has explored identity, race, intersectionality, futurism, language, design and many other concepts featuring local artists of all levels. Contact Riverside Arts Center for current and upcoming exhibition information.

Ypsi Alloy Studios is a shared studio and makerspace where visual artists are invited to “make, create, and collaborate." Founded by Ilana Houten, Elize Jekabson and Jessica Tenbusch, Ypsi Alloy Studios aims to establish a strong community of local artists operating in a shared space, including ceramicists, metal smiths, painters, printmakers, sculptors and digital artists. As this is primarily a working studio, exhibitions occur mainly through pop-up events and open houses where works are on display and available for sale. Contact Ypsi Alloy Studios for upcoming event information.

Nelson Amos Studio is an art, framing, and artist services shop at 23 E. Cross Street in Depot Town run by artist and guitar professor Nelson Amos and his wife Korin. Not only can you bring your art here for custom framing, but you can view and purchase oil portraits, watercolors, landscapes and local images of Ypsilanti. Visit Nelson Amos Studio for a memento of Ypsilanti, and be sure to check out their select line of fine classical guitars, imported from Spain. Hours vary seasonally. Contact Nelson Amos Studio directly for current regular hours.

Located at 50 E. Cross Street in Depot Town, The Eyrie is an artisan market featuring Michigan-made art, greeting cards, home décor, jewelry, paintings, pottery, blown glass, handmade candles and soaps, garden accessories and much more!

The Eyrie is owned and operated by Janette Rook and features work from over 220 Michigan artisans. The shop is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. and on Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. Be sure to visit again and again, since the stock is always changing as local artisans continue to create. While you’re in Depot Town, also plan to stop by Brick and Mortar Modern General Store, which has a quirky and fun vibe. Favorite items available there include handmade jewelry, unique pet toys and old-fashioned candies.

DIYpsi (dip-see) is a twice-yearly handmade indie art fair that hosts the best indie artists in Ypsilanti and the surrounding region for a one-of-a-kind shopping experience. Since 2010, DIYpsi’s summer and winter events have featured row after row of makers with handmade works of art and gifts, as well as local food options, in a vibrant market environment.

DIYpsi intends to be “one component of a thriving community of entrepreneurs, artists, organizations, and events that serve to build it up.” Events are frequently held at Riverside Arts Center for the winter Holiday Market and at Arbor Brewing Company Microbrewery in the summer. Specific event dates vary each year, contact DIYpsi directly for more information.

No discussion of the arts in Ypsi would be complete without First Fridays Ypsilanti. Since 2013, the self-guided monthly art walk has invited the community to regularly support local talent and businesses while enjoying free art activities involving local artists, musicians, and tastings.

Each month from April to December, on the first Friday of the month, local businesses and galleries open with special exhibitions to showcase the latest and greatest in the arts. First Fridays Ypsilanti also organizes Ypsi Pride and the annual Festival of the Honey Bee, a themed celebration of our pollinator friends. Offerings vary monthly. Contact First Fridays Ypsilanti for event schedules and performances.

Because Ypsilanti is so saturated with talented artists, many restaurants, cafés and breweries have rotating displays of local works, many available for purchase.

Here is a short, but by no means exhaustive, list of local businesses that display works of art:

This story was sponsored by Destination Ann Arbor.