ANN ARBOR, Mich. — It’s the “Super Bowl” of Art Fairs. The 2017 Ann Arbor Art Fair is really four separate art fairs made up of more than 1,000 artists on 29 city blocks.
Hundreds of thousands of people showed up and braved the heat to check out this year’s art fair. Temperatures hit 90 degrees on several of the days that the art fair was open.
This year, we decided to focus on the Millennial artists who were born between the 1980s and 2000s.
Artist Leah Staley brought her jewelry to the Street Art Fair from San Francisco. She’s located at booth No. A108 near the Rackham Auditorium.
“I am making pieces from mixed metals–sterling silver, bronze and a little bit of oxidized silver,” said Staley. “My look is kind of minimalist, kind of industrial and a little bit organic. I come from a long line of industrial metal workers, plumbers and pipe fitters and that sort of thing. I feel like a young kid that has a lot to learn. Everyone here…are amazing artists and veterans. I love every chance I have to kind of talk to them and get their tips and advice. Yeah, I learn a lot from interacting with the other artists. It’s fun. It’s a great community to be a part of. ”
Artist Michael Miller brought his paintings to the Street Art Fair from Spencer, Ohio. He’s located at booth No. A111 three booths west of Staley.
“I have oil paintings of barns, landscapes as you can see,” said Miller. “They are all done from my head. They are inspired by areas that I’m from. But I don’t like to work from photographs. I like to work from an emotional standpoint. It’s weird because a lot of the questions I get are, ‘How old are you?’ It’s a different kind world when you’re younger. Because you’re competing against people who have been doing art for a very long time. But I think the basis of art is that it’s all about ideas. It just matters that you can take the ideas that’s in your head and put it into whatever medium you want to portray it in.”
I had the rare opportunity to interview 94-year-old artist J.T. Abernathy. He’s been displaying and selling his ceramics at the Original Street Art Fair since it began back in 1959.
“Inspiration comes from many places,” Abernathy explained. “I think more or less like a painter now and I want something to paint the colors on. At 70 years, one does learn a certain amount of technique. When I look at a bed of flowers, I can’t see well enough to see what kind of flower it is. All that I see is the color. The Street Art Fair has grown enormously and the work has gotten immensely better. My works have gotten smaller and brighter. My work changes all of the time. I’ve enjoyed it immensely and I’m never bored.”
Attendees had the opportunity to make their own art and take it home at the Art Activity Zone sponsored by Kroger. Kids can make mixed media mosaics at the DIA table, fantastic figurines at the Cranbrook Art Museum table and pottery at the Clay Work Studio table.
“It is amazing and getting bigger and bigger every year,” said attendee Ann Jocz from Novi, Mich. “We particularly love the glass and pottery work. We just have found so many creative and beautiful pieces that we’ve been amazed at. We’re trying to keep it a little practical too with something that we can use, but also have out as a beautiful piece to enjoy the colors and the artwork. I would say we like classic stuff but with a contemporary twist to it. We’ve got pottery in the way of lemon, limes and oranges.”
Her daughter, Kathryn Jocz, added: “The attention to detail on so many of these projects and you would even think of mastering these different projects. We bought dollhouse foods. They are miniature foods that you can put in your dollhouses.”
The Original Street Art Fair also featured several live artist demonstrations. Those included paintings with Katie Koenig, wood art with Cliff Lounsbury, ceramics with Isabella Comai, photography with Cali Hobgood, 3D Mixed-Media with Amy Lansburg, among many others.
Ann Arbor native David Zinn created a sidewalk art mural at the corner of Liberty and Fifth avenue. The mural looks like a dragon and a pig flying in space. It will remain on display for the entire run of the art fair for attendees to enjoy.
“My favorite part of the art fair is the art of course–jewelry, sculptures, paintings, you name it,” said attendee Michael Gatien from Ann Arbor. “It just brings Ann Arbor together I’d say. If I were an artist, I would make sculptures. They have a nice band at Ingalls Mall. It’s pretty good from what I can tell. The art fair has gotten better and better each time. A little something different each time. Make sure to have plenty of sunscreen, a hat and water. Unless it storms, you’re not going to be disappointed.”
KIND passed out free samples of its granola bars at the corner of Main and Liberty streets. Other free samples included McDonald’s new Minute Maid smoothies on State Street and Pure Leaf teas on South University.
You still have one more day to enjoy the Ann Arbor Art Fair. It wraps up today (Sunday) at 6 p.m. For more information about all four the Ann Arbor Art Fairs, visit www.theannarborartfair.com.