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WATCH: Interviews with artists and attendees at the 2011 Ann Arbor Art Fair

WATCH: Ann Arbor Restaurant Owners Depend on Boost in Business During Art Fair Week to Remain Profitable



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2011 Ann Arbor Art Fairs

Thursday, 28 July, 2011 1:53 AM

REVIEW: Sales are mixed at the 2011 Ann Arbor Art Fair, most artists indicate


Jodi Causey poses next to a sculpture created by her husband, Scott Causey. She said sales were up at her booth at the State Street Area Art Fair.


by Jason Rzucidlo



ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The Ann Arbor Art Fair wrapped up on Saturday, July 23 with some artists going home happy and other artists disappointed. The weather was the best on the first day with unbearably high temperatures on the second day and light rain showers on the third and fourth days. Attendees typically look over all the booths on the first two days, then come back to make their purchases on the final two days. Some fair goers still decided to purchase art and keep it a part of their lives despite Michigan's struggling economy.

"I've been selling here for 25 years," said glass artist James Wilbat from Deerfield, Ill. "The lowest price I have is a $40 paper weight and it goes all the way up to $4,500 for some of the sculptural pieces that I do. What sales? It's been very hard to make any sales at all because of the weather. Most of the time, I do very well at this show and it has provided me with a very good income. As the year is going, this is a very tough show already. I'm going up to West Bloomfield next weekend."

A total of 1,100 artists showed off their works at the Ann Arbor Art Fair. The Guild's Summer Art Fair included 100 more artists than in 2010 while The Original Street Art Fair featured 20 more artists than last year. The South University Art Fair featured just as many as in previous years. However, the State Street Area Art Fair included 10 less artist booths than in 2010.

Most attendees said they only had time to check out a few art booths and then head inside the nearest air conditioned building. Other fair goers used the official event guide to locate their favorite artist, buy a few pieces and then head back home.

"I've been here since the year 2000 on and off," said photographer and artist Scott Matyjaszek from Rochester, NY. "In the photo sculptures, I have 8- by 10-inch pieces that are unframed for $58. They go upwards to the black box, which are the collector's edition series, which are high as $495. Yesterday, sales were good despite the heat that was present. Today, there's hardly anybody on the streets. I think most exhibitors are experiencing a definite meltdown. I'll be at two shows in Michigan -- Suttons Bay and Charlevoix."

The nicest day to attend the 2011 Ann Arbor Art Fair was the first day, Wednesday. It was partly cloudy with a high of 96 degrees and a low of 66 degrees. The second day, Wednesday, was extremely hot with temperatures in the 100's and a heat index of 110 degrees. There were scattered storms on Friday and Saturday, the last two days. Temperatures hit a high of 94 degrees on Friday and 90 degrees on Saturday.

Water was the most popular commodity at the art fairs. Employees of the Black Pearl Restaurant passed out free bottles of water to attendees on Main Street and encouraged them to dine at their restaurant. The city of Ann Arbor set up special water purifying stations at its fire hydrants located throughout the art fair.

"This is my third time here, my first time in this particular spot," said fiber artist Karla Staley from Tinley Park, Ill. "Given the weather, I think there's been a lot of interest. A lot of my work is kind of on the custom basis so people have been taking a lot of cards. They seem to be very interested. I would say it's been interesting. It's a great art fair, there's a lot of talent here. My next show will be in the Chicago area and then I'll be traveling to Atlanta, Georgia and Dallas, Texas."

This year, the executive directors of all four art fairs collaborated on three key initiatives. First, they worked together with Jacobs Media to bring back the iPhone app. It is available for a free download on all iPhones and on the iTunes music store. The Ann Arbor Art Fairs iPhone app provided a map of the festival, list of the artists, schedules and parking information. Click here to download the iPhone app.

Secondly, the new A2 Trolley gave attendees a ride between each of the four art fairs. A group of trolleys will made two stops at each of the art fairs. It was a new convenient way to get around downtown Ann Arbor during the art fairs. The trolleys were air-conditioned and ran on natural gas. Tickets were $1 for unlimited rides in one day. Finally, M10 Marketing created a brand new website called to market the four art fairs as one huge event.

"It is our first time being at the Ann Arbor Art Fair," said Jodi Causey from Sarasota, Fla. Her husband, Scott Causey, is a sculpture artist. "We're having a great show. Our prices range from about $2,600 to about $3,800 per piece. The median price is $2,600-$2,800 though. The sales have been better than I really expected with the weather the way it is. After here, we'll go back to Florida and our summer tour is over. We'll get ready for the shows in south Florida, starting usually in October."

For the first time in many years, there was no art fair held in the grassy area outside of Sears at Briarwood Mall. In 2010, there were about 25 art booths there. However, it was once again used as a place for attendees to park and ride the shuttle to the art fairs. One-way tickets were $1.50 or round trip tickets were available for $3 each.

"This my sixth year selling here," said mixed media artist Lea Alboher from Sonoma, Calif. "The price range is between $65 to $125. I did not price them high because of the economy for six or seven years now. The heat is really taking a toll on us. The few people here are real troopers to come. It's too hot to stand too long and even make decisions. After here, I'm going to take a few months off. I need to make new inventory, new images and recharge myself and my soul."

Attendees came from all over the United States and even other countries to attend the Ann Arbor Art Fair

The four art fairs make up what most people consider to be the largest art fair in the country. Knowing that, attendees flocked to Ann Arbor from all over Michigan, the midwest, the United States and even some foreign countries to see and be seen.

"I've been coming here for probably 20 years," said Susan Redmond, an attendee from Canton, Mich. "It's really, really hot. I feel really bad for anybody who came out today because it's just too warm, too hot to be out there today. We came right here from work and had to walk forever to park. We're just going to stay here and try to stay cool. I ordered the chicken pasta with artichokes from the Original Cottage Inn. It was great, it was wonderful. I just hope everybody stays cool today."

The Street Art Fair featured musical performances at the all-new Fountain Stage, next to the fountain at Ingalls Mall. It included performances by the Queen of Scots Dance Academy, Axis Music Academy, People Dancing, Dan Kim and the Blueberry Incident, Michael Malis Quartet, PURe Dance Ensemble, Low Blow, O'Hare School of Irish Dance, Dr. Geoffrey Stanton, WCC Dancers, Cottonwood Cloggers, The Anderson Quintet, Daycroft Treble Makers, Hobbs/Imberski Dance Exchange, Fiddlers ReStrung, Ann Arbor for the Performing Arts Jazz Band, Michigan Ballroom Dance Team, Dance Collective and Blank-Walbridge Duo.

Mr. B, George Tait - The Living Statue and Bob Culbertson also performed during the Street Art Fair at the corner of North University at Thayer.

"I've been here every year since I moved here in 1999," said fair goer Craig Brann from Ann Arbor, Mich. "There's a few more hot days in a row than usual. I still really enjoyed coming out. It doesn't stop me. We were looking for a wedding gift and a thank you gift. We brought a couple pieces of pottery for my niece's wedding. We bought a chip and dip kind of plate for a friend of ours that is going to host us in New York. We just saw a little bit of entertainment on the water stage. It's always amazing that Mr. B's out here everyday. I think it could be a rough year for the artists because I don't think there is as many people out here."

The Summer Art Fair hosted musical performances on the iSpy Stage, located on Liberty between Main and Ashley. Some of the performers were Of Mice & Musicians, DJ Meph, Lawless Carver, iamdynamite, DJ x10sive, DJ Gennetics, The Satin Peaches, Brass Jacket, DJ Zu, Prussia, Falcon Pierce, Passlacqua, Sharky & the Habit, JWPP, Graveyard Train, Dragon Wagon, Hampshire, Perth Elliott, Jennifer Smith and Bluesmatic.

The South University Art Fair featured musical performances on the Ann Arbor's 107one stage, at the corner of Willard and Church. It included performances by Chris Good, Gun Lake, Appleseed Collective, Funktion, Bright Lights Tree City Super Jam, Nathan K, White Raven, Wolfie Complex, Khalid Hanifi, George Bedard and the Kingpins, October Babies, Nicole P'simer, Katie Lee, Hannah Winkler, Blake Jake & The Carnes, Stepdad, Marc Broussard, Lake Folk, Steve Springer, Shari Kane & Dave Steele and Third Coast Kings.

"I came last year didn't buy anything, but this year I did," said Nicolas Fougere, an attendee from Nice, France. He is studying at the University of Michigan. "It's pretty nice, there's some nice stuff. I really appreciate it. My girlfriend actually bought postcards. I just came here today and looked around. I haven't checked out the food or the entertainment yet. I'll probably come back tomorrow to see if I find some other stuff to buy."

Plans are already underway for the 2012 Ann Arbor Art Fair, which is scheduled for July 18 - 21.

For more information about the Ann Arbor Art Fair, visit

Related Story: PREVIEW -- What to Expect at the 2011 Ann Arbor Art Fair



Scott Matyjaszek, a photographer and artist from Rochester, NY, said sales were good on the first day, but very low on Thursday.



An attendee inquires about a purse by artist Karla Staley of Tinley Park, Ill. Staley indicated that she passed out lots of business cards, which could one day turn into future customers.



James Wilbat, a glass artist from Deerfield, Ill., said sales were lower than last year at his booth.


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