As the weeks tick by this spring, we (theoretically) get closer to summer. Although the weather lately may beg to differ, it will be summer soon enough, and for me that means summer art fairs!
I happen to love outdoor art fairs. Over the past several years I have gone to so many that I have begun to recognize many of the artists who come back each year, or who exhibit at different fairs. I have also developed a list of favorite art fairs that I try to attend each year.
What I love about art fairs are the casual, relaxed manner that you can browse around and take your time too enjoy at all is around you. I like to talk to the artists about their work, and sometimes I will get a little insight into their background or technique.
I also find it inspiring as an artist myself to see what other people create. I am mostly a photographer, but I also like to paint, and have done some ceramics (although that is not my forte by far). So I like to see what others are doing. While I do not intend to copy their style, I take note of any interesting themes or ideas, patterns, or techniques I might try and experiment with on my own.
Of course, another reason I love art fairs is the shopping! I find that art fairs are fantastic places to pick up unique, or one-of-a kind items that make great gifts, such as décor for the home, jewelry, and sometimes clothing too.
One of my favorite things to collect from art fairs is pottery. My sister and I each have small collections of pottery from art fairs. My favorite piece is a ceramic teapot that has the imprint of an iris flower on it. I got this teapot from the Mt. Clemens art fair about seven years ago. I also have many paintings, drawings, and pieces of jewelry from art fairs. It is my dream that one day I can just be an art collector.
Even if I am not in the buying mood, I still enjoy browsing around in art fairs. Spending some time outdoors in the sun looking at art is a relaxing and inspiring, and a great way to spend a day.
I read the newspaper every day, and am always looking for what is going on the next weekend so I can find fairs to check out. I also have a list of fairs that I try to attend every year.
First off, I intend to kick off my summer art fair adventures this Mother’s Day weekend at the downtown Mt. Clemens art fair. While Mt. Clemens might be a trek away from the Lakes Area, it is close to my hometown, and there are great stores around the fair to check out too. If you are in need of that last minute Mother’s Day gift, or graduation gift, this is a great place to shop.
In June, I try catch the Royal Oak Clay Glass, and Metal Show, which this year is June 11 and 12. This art fair is free to enter, unlike the Arts, Beats, and Eats festival later in the summer in Royal Oak, and is held on Washington Street. If you like clay and glass art, or if you just want a nice stroll through downtown Royal Oak during the day, this is a fair I recommend. The shops surrounding the fair are fun to browse too. The city of Royal Oak has another art fair a few weeks later in July, called the Royal Oak Outdoor Art Fair held at Memorial Park at 13 Mile Road and Woodward. This is a nice fair too, while you don’t get the shops around to browse as well, I have seen musical performances there. One summer I caught a performance of hand bells.
The biggest art fair of them all, happens in July, and it happens in Ann Arbor. This has to be the BIGGEST art fair in the country. It is actually multiple art fairs in one, and swallows up the downtown area of Ann Arbor for four days. I have been to this fair many, many times, and I still have not seen it all. It spans all the way across campus. I can’t imagine trying to see it all in one day, as it would just be too exhausting! This is also, by far, my favorite art fair. What makes this fair special, is not just the size, but also the quality of the fine art displayed, the food, music, shopping, and people watching!
Now, for an insiders tip about the Ann Arbor Art Fairs: The fine art that is actually part of the fair can be pricey. So, If you still want to shop, but don’t have an art collector’s budget, I suggest also browsing the sales behind the fair tents. Others vendors set up tables behind the tents of the fine art, and the stores on the streets often have some their goods outside on sale. I have picked up music, books, jewelry, and even a Moosejaw sweatshirt for great prices at these sales behind the tents. They are worth a look.
If you enjoy people watching, you will love Ann Arbor during Art Fair. You can see so many interesting people who come out to shop, and also lots of street performers. Last year I saw a didgeridoo player, and a children’s choir perform, as well as a number of people sitting on a street curb playing the guitar and singing.
Rounding out August is my next favorite art fair, Milford Memories, held in downtown Milford. What makes this art fair great, is not only the nearly mile long art fair, but the Civil War Encampment that is held in Central Park, complete with canon firings. Milford Memories has a stronger community oriented feel to it. There are many local artists prominently featured, and many of the food vendors are raising money to help local organizations. An insider’s tip for Milford Memories, is to get an ear of fresh-roasted corn on the cob from the Methodist Church booth down in Central Park, trust me, it is good!
These are just a few of the art fairs that I enjoy. Some of the others I like are The Warren Art Fair, St. Clair Shores Art Fair, Rochester Arts and Apples Festival, and Romeo Peach Festival. I am always looking for new art fairs to check out and enjoy. I have not yet been to the Plymouth Art, and I have heard it is great; so I’ll be I will be there this summer. If you have any other favorites that you would like to suggest, please do!