Saturday, July 21, 2012

New thing #36: Ann Arbor Art Fair

My best girlfriend asked me if I'd ever been to the Ann Arbor Art Fair. I'd never heard of it, but it sounded fun so we went along with her. It's actually made of four separate award-winning art fairs held at the same time near the downtown campus of the University of Michigan.  Besides the university and the art fairs, Ann Arbor is full of great architecture and lots of cool shops and restaurants.

The last time I went to a professional art fair was in August 1990, in Lewiston, NY. It was a more traditional, less intera
ctive event. We bought a print titled "Guards of the Abbey" that still hangs over our fireplace. But my main memory is that it was the first time The Girl ever went into a port-a-potty. She was about two years old and past due for a nap. She leaned over the hole and, mesmerized, started to ask what the heck This Thing Was. Unfortunately this caused her favorite and much-loved 'Binky' to fall out of her mouth directly into the hole, where it floated helplessly. There was a beat of stunned silence followed by a bloodcurdling scream. It was years before she would enter another port-a-potty.

No such adventure this time.  It was a perfect summer night, the drive was easy and we found cheap parking right downtown. We walked out into the State Street Area Art Fair, one of the four festival sites. It was in full swing, with enough of a crowd to be festive and fun yet not herd-like. Every third booth seemed to be selling jewelry or tie dye, which was kind of lame. But the booths in between were fantastic! Every type of media was represented and the artist was present at every booth. They would come out and talk to you about their work, and a few of them were actually working on their next creation. Since I struggle to draw a good stick figure, I was impressed. All types of music were being played throughout the streets, including an elderly one-man-band dancing and singing on a corner. Various types of food and (non-alcoholic) drinks were for sale, and various social causes were being promoted. Some of the more memorable artwork were the huge abstract oil paintings, photography letter signs, body art, delicate pottery (except for this one teapot that looked like it had a goiter), stained glass frames, trays woven together from recycled glass, scrap metal wind chimes with a beautiful tone, and one guy who painted pictures of your dog sitting in a giant martini glass. But by far my favorite artist was the one who took apart old watches, toys, tools and various other items, and reassembled them into intricate and whimsical birds, memory boxes, bracelets and other curios. I didn't buy any of the pieces, which were well out of my price range for thingamajigs. I also didn't get their card, nor could I find their description listed in the art fair directory, so I regret that I can't give the artist proper kudos in this blog. If anyone knows who it is, please reply to this post. 

When the fair closed we stopped at a neighborhood bar to have a nice cold beverage, arriving just in time to watch the Tigers' win (and spotting our neighbors, who were at the game, on TV).  Great company, fun atmosphere, tasty food and drink - I haven't spent much time in Ann Arbor, but I already want to go there again.

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