2024 Ann Arbor Art Fair to return July 18-20; Dart for Art one-mile run and Block Party set for July 16

Toledo Museum of Art's glassblowing demo at the Ann Arbor Art Fair. (Gloria Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)

Ann Arbor, Mich. — The 2024 Ann Arbor Art Fair will return July 18-20 on the beautiful University of Michigan central campus. There are lots of new and exciting activities planned. In addition, the former Townie Street Party has been transformed into the Paint the Town Block Party following the Dart for Art one-mile run.

I spoke with Angela Kline, executive director of the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, The Original via Zoom.

Please give me some highlights of the 2024 Ann Arbor Art Fair.

“We have so many great things going on,” Kline said. “As you know, there are three great art fairs going on that make up the Ann Arbor Art Fair. There’s the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, The Original, The State Street District Art Fair and The Guild’s Summer Art Fair.”

Let’s discuss what’s going on at the Street Art Fair, The Original.

“We have the Toledo Museum of Art coming everyday to blow glass live from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. They bring this beautiful painted truck that they call the Baby Dragon and inside of that is this huge kiln and they blow glass live. It’s really fun to watch. Right next to that, we have the Art Activity Zone which is art projects for all ages which is presented by the Detroit Institute of Arts. ClayWorks, the B Creative Studio and the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History brings a project. That happens from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. everyday on Ingalls Mall. Just follow the Burton Tower and you can’t miss it.

“Then, we have the Youth Art Fair for the first time ever. It’s going to be 40 young people, ages 4th grade to 12th grade juried in. They will be selling and exhibiting their work. It’s a free program that we provide and they get to keep all of their earnings. Right next to them is our NANA Program: New Art, New Artists and it’s our college kids. They come, they are juried in and they get to come exhibit and sell their works retaining all of their earnings. We have so much going on.”

How will the Street Art Fair celebrate its 65th anniversary?

“I think all of the new and amazing things we have happening is a great way to celebrate our 65th year and our dedication to enriching the community through art and education. It’s an event that’s free to the public, so that’s really how we celebrate. For me, personally, just advocating for art and the 230 artists that we have on our footprint and be able to promote them and create a gallery-like space on the University of Michigan campus within the city of Ann Arbor is really just a joy. One big thing that we’re excited about is the Zingerman’s community will be there. We have Zingerman’s Roadhouse and Zingerman’s Creamery will be at the entrance of our fair as well. That will be a way to celebrate with good food.”

I understand there are 1,000 artists among the three Ann Arbor art fairs. What mediums can people expect to find?

“I think every fair we have a range of mediums. You can go to www.TheAnnArborArtFair.com to see the different mediums. The one thing that’s different about our art fair is that we have all original art so it kind of makes sense that we’re the original art fair. Each fair has something that is amazing and unique that is specific to their fairs. The State Street District has their marketplace and their vendors come out in the street and they have wonderful artists as well. The Guild has artists and artisans so it’s juried art work that is presented by other artists. There’s something for everyone’s pocketbook from $20 to $40,000. There’s really something for every collector.”

Can you tell me more about the artist demos and art activity zones at the Street Art Fair?

“The art demo zones on the original footprint this year will be the Ann Arbor Potter’s Guild and that is their 65th year. We have the Toledo Museum of Art as the other demonstration. For the other fairs, they have amazing people coming. There’s Creative District for State Street District and The Guild has so many amazing and fun things. Chalk the Walk with David Zinn and if you go to www.TheAnnArborArtFair.com there’s a glorious list of so many fun activities to do. The Art Activity Zone is the Detroit Institute of Arts and that group of individuals that create activities on Ingalls Mall.”

video by Jason Rzucidlo / AmericaJR

Please tell me more about your featured poster for this year.

“Each fair has their own featured artist and poster. Ours is Kent Ambler this year. If you go to his booth on Ingall’s Mall #209 he will sign the poster for you. You can purchase it on our merchandise booth on North University.”

How will this years art fair be similar or different from last year? 

“Similar in that we have the traditional things that we love. We try to keep our areas the same so that patrons can find them easily but within those spaces we always have new and exciting activities. One thing that is new and fun this year…we have a joint kick-off event which is the Dart For Art and the Paint the Town Block Party. That is new and will happen on July 16 when we’ve all come together to create a big kick-off party for art fair because the streets have already closed down. What a better way to have a fun race and just race right into the party. You can register for that race at DartforArt.org.”

Will the Paint the Town Block Party replace the Townie Street Party?

“Yes. Dart for Art will lead into a full town party. All of the businesses will be out in the street and we have a million activities. It will be really fun.”

Can you describe the live entertainment  that will be happening at the art fair?

“We have three stages. On Ingalls Mall, we have the Fountain Stage. We have Ann Arbor’s 107one as the presenting sponsor of our Fountain Stage. We have Scott Vertical, he is the morning DJ on 107.1, he’ll be our emcee every day of the fair. In the evening, we are hosting the Johnny’s Speakeasy benefit. There was a true speakeasy in our town of Ann Arbor from the prohibition era and it was turned into a music venue in the 1990’s. Sadly, there was an electrical fire last year and it did burn down. This is a benefit to help replace and rebuild Johnny’s Speakeasy, which is a real and historic cultural element of Ann Arbor that we’re very proud of. We’re so excited to be able to help them do that.

“Some really fun things happening at State Street District on their Williams Street stage is they have a youth talent show. That will be really fun and so many great things happening over there and fantastical musical acts. Then, on the stage on Main Street, The Ark does a really good job of booking the acts for that stage. You don’t want to miss all of our stages. You cannot go wrong, great music all around.”

What advice do you have for those coming to the art fairs for the first time?

“I always say this every time, before I was a director, I was a fair goer. I remember coming here for the first time going, ‘this is quite daunting’ because it’s so big. We take over 30 blocks of the city. I recommend this: We each have an artist directory for our shows. That’s one way to do it. You can look at all of the artists you would like to visit and then map out where you would like to go. I like to park centrally so I might park at somewhere like the Thayer Garage or somewhere in the center that way I can work my way around all three footprints of the fair.”

Where are the best places to park and can you discuss the shuttles.

“We have amazing shuttle service. If you go to Huron High School, we have air conditioned motor coaches provided by National Trails. They’re also accessible for anyone of any ability so you can go to Huron High School and go that route. You can go to Briarwood Mall and park there and ride. That’s $8 round trip. It’s a quick and easy way to get to the fair. Again, you can take the city bus. That’s $1.50. There’s two bus depots that will put you right in the middle of art fair. That’s an easy way to go from The Ride. We have BMW and May Mobility does the Art-Go-Round so once you are here, you can ride a BMW around the edge of the art fair. We make it very easy to come to the art fair and you don’t have to worry about parking.”

Any other final comments before we wrap up?

“We would love to see everyone at the big kick-off party. It really is really fun. We’re dedicating a sculpture to the city, A Tree of Life, that will happen right at the end of Dart for Art. If you go to DartforArt.org you can sign up for the fun race. It’s a one-mile race and there’s all sorts of free things for the kiddos and activities. Then, you go to the party and see the sculpture dedication with the mayor. It’s going to be a great day. That’s on July 16 right after work. Again, all of the info is at www.TheAnnArborArtFair.com. You can’t miss a beat by going there.”

Click Here for a larger version of the Ann Arbor Art Fair Map.

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