ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The Ann Arbor Art Fair will return to the University of Michigan central campus for three days, July 20 – 22, 2023. Nearly 1,000 artists will be selling their works of art in a variety of different mediums. In addition, there will be live entertainment, food trucks and much more for the entire family to enjoy.
I spoke one-on-one with Angela Kline, executive director of The Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, The Original. Please start with some highlights of 2023 Ann Arbor Street Art Fair
“There are so many things happening,” Kline said. “We have our art fair activity zones are back. We’ll have organizations like the Detroit Institute of Art, the Ann Arbor Potters Guild, coming to do art activities. We have the Toledo Museum of Art coming everyday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. to do live glass blowing on site. That’s on East Washington and Ingall’s Mall. Mr. B is back—he’s been with us for 40 years on North University. The Ann Arbor Potters Guild is back doing live ceramic demonstrations everyday as well as selling their amazing artwork.”
How will this year’s Ann Arbor Art Fair similar or different from last year?
“It’s very much like our 2019 art fair before the pandemic where we had all of our amazing activities going on. We will have all of those items back again. Last year, we only had our amazing Fountain Stage. We didn’t have extra activities because we were still recovering from the pandemic. Now, we’re back in full force so it should be amazing.”
I understand there will be nearly 1,000 artist booths in the Ann Arbor Art Fair. Does that make it the largest art fair in the United States?
“The Ann Arbor Art Fair is comprised of three, non-profit art fairs. One is the Summer Art Fair, one is State Street District Art Fair and the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, The Original. Between the three of us, we have almost 1,000 artists among 30 city blocks of Ann Arbor Art Fair. We’re just one-third of that event.”
I’m so happy to hear that artist demos are back!
“Yes, we are very excited to have them back as well. We have artists from The Toledo Museum of Art blowing glass from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Ingalls Mall. Then, we have the Ann Arbor Potters Guild doing ceramic artwork as well.”
What can attendees expect to see from the live entertainment?
“We’ll have over 25 different acts this year that are very well-known acts from all over Michigan. From Delta 88 to Rochelle Clark, Kevin Brown, Matthew Truman. Amazing artists coming to perform all-day, every day at Ingalls Mall.”
It’s also a great opportunity for attendees to try out the local restaurants and food trucks.
“Yes, we will have food trucks. We have six different food trucks on our footprint alone. Anything you can imagine, you will be able to find. Everything tastes better off of a truck, I think.”
I understand the Townie Street Party is back—and now will be held on Sunday, July 16.
“Yes, it’s an all-day Sunday event. That way, our racers from Dart from Art run in the morning where it’s cooler and more enjoyable and then run into the Townie Party immediately after. Every runner gets a free beer and the kiddos get free art supplies and free ice cream. Every racer wins a beautiful medal and then they get to enjoy the Townie Street Party which is now from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. We have live, free music all day with Delta 88 and Joshua Davis who was on “The Voice” will be headlining the show. It really helps support all of the free programs that we have at the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair. (more info at www.towniestreetparty.com)
What advice would you have for people coming to the art fair for first time?
“Before I was the director, I was also a fair goer so I would always make sure that I had the map ahead of time. You have the option of taking the shuttles to the show which I would really recommend. National Trails is our sponsor and our shuttle service. You can do that at Huron High School or at Briarwood Mall. It’s $8 for a round trip ticket. If you would like to drive and park here, you can park in any of the parking structures for $18 per day. I like to look at the map and think, what artists do I want to see? You can find that on our artists directory at www.artfair.org. If you want to see the artists for the entire art fair, you can go to www.theannarborartfair.com. If you want to be dropped off on the original footprint, then go to Huron High School and that’s the best park-and-ride for us. It will drop you off right at the end of our footprint.”
Please tell me more about the Street Art Fair featured poster artist for this year.
“Our featured artist is Katie Musolff. She’s amazing. She’s a hyper realist water color artist and she does mostly all nature. She’s a midwestern artist and very well-known. We’re very well honored and thrilled to have her create a work for us. We did a 24- by 36-inch poster this year. It has a very Audubon kind of feel to it. That is the falcon from the falcons that live in the Burton Tower. Burton Tower is on our footprint of the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair. We thought it was fitting to have a falcon.”
We talked about artist demonstrations already. But will there be activities where people can make their own art and take it home?
“Yes, that’s the art activity zone. We’ll have the University of Michigan Natural Museum of History, The Detroit Institute of Arts, a company called Clay Work Studio and another company called Be Creative Studio. You can completely explore your creative side. It’s inspiring to see all of the professional artists around you and you want to create something. We have people to facilitate that as well.”
It sounds like everything is back to pre-2019 era before Covid. How many people are expected to attend the Ann Arbor Art Fair this year?
“For the entire art fair, we usually have about 500,000 people. For the Street Art Fair side, we’re probably at 200,000 people.”
Are there going to be shuttles that will take people between the three art fairs and back?
“Not only do we have National Trails doing shuttles but we have some sponsors doing it. We have May Mobility which are autonomous vehicles that drive and drop you off at the footprint of the fair at different points. We also have BMW this year letting you take a ride around the fair in luxury. Several ways to get around the fair.”
What is the average weather for the three days of the art fair?
“We always hope for the best—nice, balmy, 72 and sunny. But if you find there is inclement weather, I just tell people to prepare for weather and make sure you check the weather in the morning. Bring an umbrella, whatever makes you comfortable so that way you can stay at the fair. There’s plenty of tenting and spaces to go indoors if you want to.”
For more info about all three Ann Arbor Art Fairs, visit www.theannarborartfair.com.
For more info about the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, the Original, visit www.artfair.org.