ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The 13th annual Townie Street Party took place on Monday evening on the University of Michigan central campus. The celebration is the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair’s way of saying thanks to the community for hosting the four-day event later this week.
“We’re very excited that we have this gorgeous day in Ann Arbor,” said Maureen Riley, executive director of the Street Art Fair. “The Townie Street Party kicks off art fair week. It’s a party for really anybody, but we kind of think we’re throwing a special event for locals. We know that they have to put up with a lot of inconvenience. We have a party in store for them this evening.”
Attendees had the opportunity to make art and take it home with them. Wild and wacky hats were one example at the community day care booth. Other activities included summertime screenprinting, pinch pot creations and shadow sculptures.
“My paintings are acyrlic on canvas and I like to paint surrealism and portraits with surrealism,” said Jack Weddell, a student artist in the youth art fair. “Surrealism is out of the ordinary things that wouldn’t happen like a humongous whale swimming in a swimming pool. It’s kind of Van Gogh and Picasso as well.”
The event also featured live music on the main stage all evening long. It began with Mr. B’s Joybox Express, continued later on with the RFD Boys and wrapped up with The Ben Daniels Band as the headliners. Ben Daniels is best known as actor Jeff Daniels’ son.
“I make figurines from polymer clay of mostly dragons and people,” said Alice Ivanitskiy, another student artist. “A lot of these are book characters or I’ll come up with an idea and I’ll kind of mix it around. Some of them are requests from a friend. The snake rings take about five to 10 minutes and these ones can take up to two hours each.”
The Townie Street Party also featured a mile-long run down State Street called the Dart for Art. Elite runners began at 6 p.m. and the rest of the community were allowed to run at 6:30 p.m.
“I just love it, it’s a lot of fun, it’s a really quick run and it’s hyped up for later races in the year,” said Katerina Mendel, who ran with a group from NorthRidge Church. “Love Run is through NorthRidge and we are running in Detroit this year. The main goal we are running is to end human trafficking.”
Another runner, Gabriella Ring, added: “This was my third time doing it. It was hot as usual. I just wanted to run as hard as I could for as long as I could. That felt really good. I think my time was around 6:20. My best here is 6:17. I was not running for two weeks because I was backpacking and hiking 20 miles per day. I’m very happy with the effort.”
Several community organizations had booths for festival goers to discover. Participating organizations included the Ann Arbor Derby Dimes, the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra, Purple Rose Theatre, The Ride and U of M Museum of Natural History, among many others.
“I am having a great time and I love seeing the art and seeing everybody out in Ann Arbor,” said attendee Cynthia Gabriel. “I have looked over the art and I’m going to go back and buy my favorites. I want to buy some magnets, a notebook and some photography and something that someone sewed. I saw some great stuff.”
Several local restaurants brought their specialties for festival goers to enjoy. Those included Dominos Pizza, Rays Red Hots, Blimpy Burger and many others.
“It’s fun to be here,” said young attendee Anju Paulick. “There’s nothing I really want to buy. It’s definitely fun to meet all of my people from school.”
Visitors also had the chance to purchase official art fair souvenirs without the hustle and bustle of being at the art fair. This year’s Street Art Fair featured artist is Debo Groover. Her work is featured on various apparel items and posters.
The Ann Arbor art fair kicks off on Thursday, July 20 and runs through Sunday, July 23. For more information about all four art fairs, visit https://www.theannarborartfair.com/