Megan Mazurek has been going to the Ann Arbor Art Fair for as far back as she can remember. “The fair started as a tradition with my mother. Now, I go with my husband,” said Mazurek, 29.
“When you’re at the fair, you don’t know what activities you’re going to stumble across. It’s cool!” said Mazurek of Ann Arbor. One year, she participated in a sidewalk chalk-art project. Another time, she helped “paint an orange on a large canvas that turned out to be part of a billboard in Ann Arbor!”
The 57th annual Ann Arbor Art Fair will feature four art fairs, street performers, entertainment on three stages, tasty edibles, sidewalk sales and a medley of hands-on, family-fun activities.
The outdoor celebration runs from Thursday, July 21 through Sunday, July 24. This is the first year in the fair’s history that the event will open on a Thursday and end on a Sunday.
“Over the years, the art fair has evolved into one of Michigan’s greatest summer traditions and expanded to over 1,000 competitively juried artists covering 30 city blocks,” said Karen Delhey, art fair spokesperson.
Mazurek is “proud of the art that I buy from the fair.” She claims that she has probably bought something from every medium represented. Photography, jewelry, ceramics and wood are some of her favorites.
Other classifications featured at the event are sculpture, 2D mixed media, 3D mixed media, digital art, drawing, fiber, furniture, glass, metalsmithing, painting and printmaking.
Jan Kaulins, an urban regional photographer from Manitou Beach, MI, has exhibited at the fair for about 30 years. He specializes “… exclusively on hand-colored and multiple exposure photos of the Metro Detroit area, including Ann Arbor. My photography is a celebration of this great cultural area.” The artist focuses on local icons, landmarks, architecture, sports and aerial photography.
“I’m happy to bring something new to the art community,” said stained glass artist, Johnathon Grabitz of Maybee, MI, referring to his unique process of combining stained glass and taxidermy. He calls the process “glassidermist.” This year will be Grabitz’s first appearance at the art fair.
Mixed media artist, Heather Haymart of Ballwin, MO, described her abstract paintings as “… slightly recognizable subject matter, such as landscapes, fantasy-scapes and trees, as well as non-representational work. She also sells greeting cards of pieces that she has already sold.
When Alison Narayan spotted Within Reach, a yellow/green/blue three-dimensional painting by Haymart, she was hooked.
“It spoke to me! It’s pretty abstract … very calming and inspirational. I love the colors!” said Narayan of Ann Arbor. Narayan, who has attended the fair for almost 15 years, especially enjoys sharing the experience with her mom and sister.
Jen Semanision of Grosse Pointe Park, MI, a fairgoer for more than 30 years, has been meeting “… pretty much with the same friend” every year. “The fair gives us a venue to catch up,” she said.
The two pals have purchased Christmas ornaments and, more recently, necklaces for each other. One year, they decided to have “a little henna painted inside of our ankles.” Their day always ends with dinner. Egg rolls and lemonade sufficed when the friends were younger. Now, the duo prefers a menu of pasta or pizza paired with a glass of wine.
Semanision loves the entire fair scene. “It’s a great summer tradition and I’ve never seen anything like it,” she said. Her suggestion for first time fairgoers: “Break it up into chunks.”
Some families, like the Werners of Birmingham, MI, schedule an entire day to meander around the fair.
Scott Werner, who enjoys the event with his wife, Carolyn, and their two children, said, “The fair is a great opportunity to expose my children to a great event and great art.”
Nolan, 13, and Spencer, 9, look forward to the outing. “Each year they pick something out that they would like for their room or somewhere in the house,” Werner said. A custom designed skateboard and photography by Gug Underwater are some of the boys’ favorite purchases.
The Art Activity Zone offers a great spot for a break. One year, Werner’s two boys learned how to design pieces in clay.
This year, the activity center will feature free, kid-friendly projects for all ages. Options include a make-your-own butterfly marionette sponsored by the Detroit Institute of Arts; and, a lesson by the Cranbrook Art Museum in how-to-create psychedelic collages.
“The fair really is a fun place to go. There’s nothing quite as large, all encompassing, and interesting, as the Ann Arbor Art Fair,” said Werner.
If you go
What: Ann Arbor Art Fair
When: Thursday, July 21 through Saturday, July 23, 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.; and Sunday, July 24, noon – 6 p.m.
Where: Downtown Ann Arbor, MI
Information: Go online to www.TheAnnArborArtFair.com
Getting to and around the fair
Free parking is available at four Park & Ride locations. Shuttles run from these locations every 10-15 minutes starting one hour before the fair and continuing until one hour after the fair.
The free Art Fair Art-Go- Round shuttle transports fairgoers around the 30-city block area and Ann Arbor. Shuttles run every 15 minutes.
For fees, shuttle locations and shuttle stops, go towww.TheAnnArborArtFair.com.
Mary Quinley is a freelance journalist from Metro Detroit.