Love in art: Four couples to see at Ann Arbor Art Fair

By Meredith Bruckner - Community News Producer

Credit: Roots Photography | Corbe Company

ANN ARBOR - More than 1,000 artists are coming to town for the 60th Ann Arbor Art Fair this week, and some of them present with their spouse.

We touched base with four couples from each of the individual fairs to hear their personal stories, how long they've been attending the fair and what they love most about showing at the largest juried art fair in the country.

The following interviews were conducted via email and have been edited and condensed.

Ryan and Kaitlyn Lawless - Corbe Company
Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair
Booth: MN334 

Credit: Corbe Company

Credit: Corbe Company

The Lawlesses make porcelain wares in their Detroit studio. Most of their pieces are functional everyday objects like bowls, mugs and vases that add fresh pops of color and texture to any home. 

"Our prices range from $16 for a tiny vase up to $350 or more for larger vessels," said Kaitlyn.

This will be their fourth year at the Ann Arbor Art Fair.

How they met:

Ryan and Kaitlyn met nearly 10 years ago in Portland, Oregon.

"He was visiting friends while dropping pottery at a studio he was working with and we hit it off," said Kaitlyn. "After dating and becoming engaged, moves from the Northwest to the Midwest and back to the Northwest, we sought a house with a home studio so we could finally get our hands dirty with design projects we'd been discussing for the past year.

"We launched a Kickstarter to fund our first collection, The Fifty United Plates, and expanded two years later to bring in hand-thrown pieces and the tablewares we are creating today. We've been working and designing together full-time ever since."

Credit: Corbe Company

What they enjoy the most about the Ann Arbor Art Fair:

"How enthusiastic and excited everyone is to be there," said Kaitlyn. "Whether it's raining or so hot with no end to the heat in sight, people wait all year for the Ann Arbor Art Fair, and you can feel how much they appreciate us being there. The feeling is mutual!"

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Best aspects of working together as artists:

"We truly understand one another's design sense, I have an idea how he might feel about a piece before asking him and vice versa," said Kaitlyn. 

"But at the same time, we have different work styles. Ryan is a big picture, long work hours kind of ceramicist, focused on future goals and achieving new levels of creative and business success. My attention is best suited for details, both when it comes to crafting pieces and creative direction for our brand, website, show setup and future collections. I like working small and he likes working big, we balance each other."

Learn more about their work at corbecompany.com.

Stefany Brown and Chris McCarthy
South University Art Fair
Booths: SU827 (Chris) and SU852 (Stefany)

Stefany and Chris are glass artists from St. Louis, Missouri. Chris began blowing glass in 1995 and has been a full-time artist since 2003. He uses the traditional Venetian techniques but puts his own spin on his large-scale work by carving the glass. He will be selling sculptural and functional works at the fair. His prices range from $20 to $650.

Credit: Chris McCarthy | Park Avenue Glass


 

Chris taught Stefany the art of glass blowing in 2015, and two years later, she left her career in digital marketing to become a full-time jeweler. She will be selling her colorful blown glass and sterling silver jewelry at the art fair. Her prices range from $45 to $565.

Credit: Stefany Marie Contemporary Jewelry

This will be Chris' 15th year at the Ann Arbor Art Fair and Stefany's third.

How they met:

"We met through mutual friends," said Stefany. "I was in the middle of an embarrassing story when he walked around the corner. We were both immediately smitten. We were engaged two months later and married 364 days after we met. Twenty-one years in, and we are still enjoying life and laughing a lot, with our amazing daughter getting ready to start college."

What they enjoy the most about the Ann Arbor Art Fair:

"The passionate patrons, location and seeing longtime friends in the artist community," said Stefany.

(Left) Stefany Brown and Chris McCarthy. (Right) Chris McCarthy and the couple's daughter. (Courtesy: Stefany Brown)

Best aspects of working together as artists:
 
"We work extremely well together," said Stefany. "We regularly bounce ideas off of one another from an artistic perspective. Additionally, we work closely as business partners to expand what we do and reach new audiences. We each bring different talents to the relationship and have mutual respect for those differences. Most importantly though, we know when to give the other space. So … collaboration plus personal space plus respect plus hilarity equals good times."  
 
Learn more about Stefany's work at stefanymarie.com and Chris' work at parkavenueglass.com.

Victoria Jackson and Aziz Kadmiri
State Street Art Fair
Booths: NU772 (Victoria) and NU768 (Aziz)

Atlanta-based artists Victoria Jackson and Aziz Kadmiri will be at the Ann Arbor Art Fair selling Jackson's contemporary landscape, floral and abstract paintings and Kadmiri's cityscape, animal and figurative paintings. Both artists primarily paint in acrylic on gallery-wrapped canvases.

Credit: Victoria Jackson

Their paintings are generally priced between $1,200 and $3,000. In galleries, their work often sells anywhere from $2,400 to $8,000.

Credit: Aziz Kadmiri

This will be their third year at the Ann Arbor Art Fair.

How they met:

"Aziz and I met in Paris, France, on July 5, 2004, through a mutual friend," said Victoria. "He didn’t speak any English, and I didn’t speak much French, but we got to know each other through email. We both had to try and learn the other's language, which I am still working on. Thank God for email because we would not have fallen in love otherwise.

"We would see each other every three months, sometimes here, France, or sometimes Casa Blanca, Morocco (where he was born). We were married on October 15, 2013, and he just became an American citizen."

Victoria Jackson and Aziz Kadmiri. (Courtesy: Victoria Jackson)

What they enjoy the most about the Ann Arbor Art Fair:

"We love to interact with the clients, and it’s wonderful to be surrounded by other talented artists," said Jackson. "There is always such great energy and we love the local entertainment."

Best aspects of working together as artists:

"Working with my husband was a challenge at first," said Victoria. "We shared a single studio, and it was hard because when you paint, you need to constantly step back and check the progress of your painting. Naturally, we would bump into each other.

"So now we have separate studios. It's wonderful to get critiqued because it helps create the best work possible. I would say that during the process of creating a painting, we would consult with each other at least three or four times."

Learn more about Victoria's work at victoriajacksonart.com and Aziz's work at kadmirifineart.com.

Amy Arnold and Kelsey Sauber Olds
Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, The Original
Booth: NU822

Amy Arnold and Kelsey Sauber Olds are coming to the Ann Arbor Art Fair from Viroqua, Wisconsin, and will be selling their carved human/animal figurative wood sculptures. Their pieces range from $55 to $4,000 for their one-of-a-kind works.

Credit: Amy Arnold | Kelsey Sauber Olds

This will be their fourth year at the Ann Arbor Art Fair.

How they met:

At an Art Fair, of course.

"Kelsey and I met at Art Fair on the Square in Madison 16 years ago," said Arnold. "He was an artist in the show, and I was walking around shopping for a nice husband for myself and father for my baby son. And found one!  

"We were both working on our separate work at that time. Kelsey was making furniture, and I was making soft sculpture and wool hats. We started working together two kids and nine years into our relationship as a response to the time crunch of having the kind of family life we wanted and limited hours to create."

What they enjoy the most about the Ann Arbor Art Fair:

"We bring our three sons with us to Ann Arbor," said Arnold. "We stay at a fellow artist's home and because of the way the show is set up with the backs of the booths together and the length of the show, we get to have a wonderful time with our artist friends, the kind of slow, sweet time that we don't normally have in this world of art festivals. Our kids have friends that are children of artists that they love to pal around with in Ann Arbor. We really enjoy the campus and vibe at the show, and we look forward to it every year."

Kelsey Sauber Olds and Amy Arnold. (Courtesy: Amy Arnold)

Best aspects of working together as artists:

"Some of the best things about working together include the combined energy of two invested people in all aspects of work," said Arnold. "Having another place to work out our personal issues and couple issues as we navigate working and being together all the time. Our personalities and work styles compliment each other. These things that are the 'best aspects' can sometimes be the worst."

Learn more about their work at AAAKSO.com.

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