This article is sponsored by Wallside Windows and Concordia University.
Thursday kicks off the day that hundreds of thousands of people have been waiting for: It’s the Ann Arbor Art Fair! For almost 60 years, the event has been taking over Ann Arbor’s downtown area with some 400,00 people expected to visit. Meredith Bruckner with AllAboutAnnArbor.com was there live Thursday morning as the fair was getting underway.
The four-day event bills itself as “Four art fairs, one event.” There is the State Street Art Fair, The Summer Art Fair, The South University Art Fair, and the original Street Art Fair. Meredith was able to speak to a few artists, a festival organizer and vendors, many who have been participating in the art fair for years.
She first spoke with Art Fair spokesperson Karen Delhey. Delhey says fair-goers can expect amazing art this year. There are over a thousand jury-selected artists from all over the country, which for Delhey means, the highest quality of art anyone can find. She says this is one of the largest art fairs in the country and one of the oldest. The art fair keeps it fresh each year by bringing in returning artists along with new ones so that it's never the same show twice.
One of those artists is Sharon Tesser. Tesser is a fiber artist, who makes all of her work with fabric. She uses recycled fabric, vintage fabric, and hand-dyed fabric to create elaborate scenes on canvases. She says they are often mistaken for paintings. Tesser’s, who’s been participating in the Art Fair for the past six years, says she keeps coming back the Ann Arbor Art Fair customer base. She says they are usually people who have so much love and interest for art.
Another artist at the fair this year is Shannon Lewis. He is a broom artist—taking unique pieces like old instruments and statues and adding broom heads to them. The broom art is completely functional although many people use them as a showpiece. The Kentucky based artist told Meredith that he’s been making brooms for years. Lewis says he loves the fair and always has a good time meeting people and seeing other artists. He says the Ann Arbor Art Fair is unique because of its size, the number of artists they feature and how well the art is juried.
Being that its four art fairs in one, there’s a lot of walking involved. Festival organizers encourage attendees to wear comfortable shoes and breathable clothing. Temperatures are expected to be in the 90s.
There is more than just art at that art fair. Attendees can also expect food, street entertainers, live music, and lots of great gift ideas plus the Local 4 and All About Ann Arbor booth. The booth is located at the intersection of South University Ave. and State St. and will have all kinds of free Local 4 swag including a tote that can be used to carry Art Fair finds.
Food is a big part of the Ann Arbor downtown scene, so naturally, it will be a highlight of the Art Fair. Meredith spoke to Kyle Froelich, the Manager of Good Time Charley’s. He showed some of what the restaurant has to offer. Froelich suggests trying a Good Time Charley’s classic, the sticks, and twists which are hand twisted cheese breadsticks stuffed with different cheeses or pepperoni. There is also the J Walker Burger. Charleys has been a staple in Ann Arbor for forty years, serving mainly University of Michigan Students as well as the football game day crowd
The Ann Arbor Art Fair is also the perfect place to pick up unexpected gifts and souvenirs, including a custom-designed t-shirt. Rishi Narayan, Co-founder of Underground Printing talked to Meredith about the uniquely designed t-shirts they are offering this year. Underground Printing has been around for 18 years in Ann Abor, starting in Narayan’s dorm room in University of Michigan’s West Quadrangle building. Narayan says there will be four t-shirts available for purchase this year. Each represents the four individual street fairs and feature artwork from artists of those individual fairs who competed for the honor. Narayan says making the t-shirt is a collaborative process.
Many of the artists draw inspiration for their design from the art fair itself and then collaborate with Underground Printing on color scheme and layout. This year many t-shirts are marking the Art Fair’s milestones. Parts of the Ann Arbor Art Fair have been around decades with some of the individual arts fair celebrating 50 years and others 60 years.
Meredith has a complete guide to the Ann Arbor Art Fair online on All About Ann Arbor’s website: allaboutannarbor.com.
The Art Fair runs through Sunday, July 21. Check more information about the Ann Arbor Art Fair here.
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