ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Over 1,000 artists will show off their works at the Ann Arbor Art Fair beginning this Wednesday on the University of Michigan central campus. The event is comprised of four art fairs–The original Street Art Fair, the Summer Art Fair, the State Street Art Fair and the South University Art Fair. New this year is Art-Go-Round, which will shuttle attendees between the four art fairs.
“We have a lot of new artists and a lot of returning favorites,” said Maureen Riley, executive director of the Street Art Fair. “This year, the Street Art Fair is in a temporary, one-year relocation site. Construction on Ingalls Mall has forced us to move about a block south. We will still have North University and will go south. It’s a slightly different footprint, but all of the same great artwork that everyone’s accustomed to.”
Will the Street Art Fair have the same number of artists as in past years?
“We’re actually losing a few artists with the relocation. We will have 184 of our professional visiting artists and 15 artists in the Potter’s Guild then we have our New Artist college student program. That is really special and unique to the Street Art Fair. We do a mentoring program through the colleges in the state. Of the applicants, we select eight that are invited to participate in the art fair at no cost. They’re paired with professional artists who give them advice. It’s really designed to give young people a taste of what it’s like to be an art fair artist without having to make the large investment that it takes to get on the circuit.”
I understand The Parade Company will be demonstrating how to make a float.
“On Wednesday and Thursday, we’ll have the Parade Company in our art activity zone and you can work on building a float,” Riley added. “We have lots of fun family-friendly activities in the art activity zone. We have the Detroit Institute of Arts and MOCAD will also be offering art activities as well as several other groups.”
Where can folks find the live entertainment this year?
“The Art Fair Main Stage is in the South University footprint. There’s a new stage in celebration of The Ark’s 50th Anniversary on Washington in the Summer Art Fair footprint. Unfortunately, this year because of our construction, we have a one-year hiatus from our Fountain Stage. There’s no fountain stage and no food court in the Street Art Fair this year. But we’ll we back next year with both.”
Other than the new footprint, what other changes can attendees expect to see?
“Instead of the trolley, which used to circulate the art fair, we still have a circular vehicle transportation route,” the executive director explained. “The trolleys will be replaced by mini buses and we’re now referring to it as the Art-Go-Round. It will circulate all four fairs, you can ride all day, on and off, for free. There used to be a small fee with the trolleys, but we’ve moved to a different plan this year. They are air conditioned, handicapped-accessible mini buses.”
Who is one of the artists coming from the farthest away to be a part of the art fair?
“We have two artists coming from Japan, we have artists from South America and from all over the United States.” Look for artist Midori Ueda-Okahana from Koganei-shi, Japan who will be selling his paintings at booth A344. Artist Takahashi Yamashita from Tokyo will be showing off his digital photography at booth A327.
Who is your featured artist at the Street Art Fair for this year?
“Our featured artist is Dylan Strzynski, who is actually local to this area,” Riley said. “He lives in Dexter and is a painter. His work is very interesting and is abstract. You can find out poster image on our website, which is artfair.org. You can order a poster online.”
Please tell me more about your artist demonstrations.
“We have a street painting for one. Tess Tobolic, who is returning this year, will be creating a giant drawing on the sidewalk in front of Hill Auditorium. It’s a re-creation of Jacques-Louis David’s ‘Napoleon Crossing the Alps.’ You can watch her recreate it in large scale in chalk on the streets. We also have a demo zone tent. Everyday, all day, there are artists that demonstrate what their techniques are and their creative process. It’s really engaging to watch and learn from them.”
With the four art fairs combined, would you say it is the largest art fair in the country?
“Absolutely. There’s about a 1,000 artists between the four fairs, not to mention the artists on private property. People can’t envision how large it is and all there is to do until they actually see it. It takes more than a day to get through it.”
What is your advice to folks who may be coming for the very first time?
“First, decide if you want to drive into Ann Arbor. I would recommend parking in one of our Park-N-Ride shuttle locations. We have four on the four sides of town. You can learn what they are and how to get into the town on our website at www.theannarborartfair.com. The one that drops off at the Street Art Fair is off US-23 at Huron High School. Jump on the shuttle bus and it drops you right on our doorstep. The fee for riding the shuttle bus is $1.50 each way. Parking is free at all of the locations.”
The forecast is expected to be sunny on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, with a chance of rain on Friday. Temperatures are expected to peak on Saturday with a high of 86 degrees with the coolest day of the fair being Wednesday with a high of 75 degrees. The high for Thursday is 78 degrees and 81 on Friday, according to the Weather Channel.
For more information about the Ann Arbor Art Fair, visit http://theannarborartfair.com/.