Insider's Look at the 2023 Ann Arbor Art Fair: Three Fairs, Three Days
Each year, Ann Arbor hosts a beloved Midwest tradition over three days in July. It’s the Ann Arbor Art Fair, the largest and one of the top-ranking juried art fairs in the country, returning to downtown Ann Arbor Thursday, July 20 through Saturday, July 22, 2023. The Ann Arbor Art Fair celebrates art and the artist community that make the fair so special and integral to the city’s proud recognition as a beacon for the visual and performing arts.
Comprised of three independently juried nonprofit art fairs that run concurrently – the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, The Original; the Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair; and the Ann Arbor State Street Art Fair, the Ann Arbor Art Fair will span 30 city blocks and consist of nearly 1,000 artists of different mediums from across the country.
Every year, each fair chooses a featured artist to create a commemorative poster for the fair that captures the overall energy of the Ann Arbor Art Fair and the Ann Arbor community as a whole. Take a peek at the posters and learn a bit about each artist below.
FEATURED FAIR ARTISTS
Featured Artist – Katie Musolff – Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, The Original
Musolff’s commemorative poster features a Peregrine Falcon in honor of the falcon family that resides in University of Michigan's historic Burton Tower. As a long-standing exhibitor at Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, The Original, Musolff had the opportunity to observe the falcon family and paint a falcon from life. This poster was created in tribute to the magnificent artistry and natural splendor of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Musolff's current body of work consists of meticulous watercolor and gouache paintings that concentrate on the beauty she finds along the backwaters of her Wisconsin home along the Mississippi River.
“This fair has always been so good to me and for me. And being the featured artist is the crowning jewel in my time participating in the fair. My art has always been about educating others about the beauty around them and putting the peregrine falcon, a natural beauty on the fair’s footprint, on the commemorative poster is just a perfect way to engage with the show,” said Musolff.
Featured Artist – Chris Charles – Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair
Charles’ commemorative poster features a brightly colored robin in front of a stark green circle. Her work currently focuses on fine art linocut and letterpress prints, which often feature bold colors and a healthy sense of humor. In addition to selling her work in person through art festivals and gallery shows around the country, Charles is the proud owner of Moon Rabbit Press located in her hometown of Rochester, New York and teaches printmaking at the Flower City Arts Center.
“From the first year I showed at the Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair, it has become one of the highlights of my year. The thoughtful curation by the Summer Art Fair is evident by the high quality of artists exhibiting. That's why I am thrilled and honored to have been chosen as this year's featured artist,” said Charles.
Featured Artist – Espacia Fotiu – Ann Arbor State Street Art Fair
Fotiu’s commemorative poster is an abstract depiction of the beauty of Ann Arbor’s nature.
The Michigan-based Fotiu is a self-taught creative inspired by nature, philosophy and the human condition. She self-published an interactive children’s book that has been sold in gift shops across the state, including the Cranbrook Art Museum. Fotiu has had her paintings in many gallery exhibitions over the years and renovated a van to travel to art shows around the country.
“Being selected as a featured artist for the State Street Art Fair is an immense milestone in my career, one that holds great significance. I am honored to leave my mark and share my artistic expression with the world. It serves as a poignant reminder of the many years I’ve participated in this show,” said Fotiu.
In addition to the blocks and blocks of artists, the Ann Arbor Art Fair will feature three stages with live music, international exhibits, art demonstrations and interactive art activities to include everyone in the fun. And, as always, the Ann Arbor community will play an active role in the fair, with the downtown’s small businesses offering sidewalk sales and local restaurants extending patio services into the streets. Below you’ll find three participating local businesses.
DINING & SHOPPING DURING THE FAIR
1928 Packard St.
An Ann Arbor local favorite food truck, Bao Boys, serves up soft doughy buns filled with mixtures of meats, vegetables and spices for bold flavor combinations inspired by many different cultures. The Bao Boys food truck can usually be found in York Yard Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., but you can find them at the Ann Arbor Art Fair all weekend long. Participating in the fair, Bao Boys will be providing lunch to 210 artists.
“The Ann Arbor Art Fair is a wonderful opportunity for Bao Boys to engage in a meaningful event with the community we love, whether it's for those that know us already or those that are trying our food for the first time,” said Steven Choi, managing partner of Bao Boys.
218 S Main St.
An Ann Arbor family-owned business, the Himalayan Bazaar sells fair trade products from the Himalayan region of Nepal. Supporting local businesses, the Bazaar only works with small-scale craftsman who live in remote villages throughout Nepal. Every item is handcrafted by an artisan in Nepal, using their own unique skills and techniques to create beautiful pieces of furniture, jewelry, clothing and more. The Bazaar’s mission is to help preserve traditional art forms while also supporting local communities.
“The Ann Arbor Art Fair opens doors to a world of inspiration, exposure and opportunities for The Himalayan Bazaar to connecting with diverse art enthusiasts.,” said Pem Sherpa, owner of the Himalayan Bazaar.
303 S State St.
The University of Michigan is an essential part of the Ann Arbor community, so this list wouldn’t be complete without The M Den. As the official retailer of the University of Michigan Athletic Department, the M Den carries the finest selection of clothing, merchandise and gifts to the University of Michigan family. Every purchase made through the M Den results in direct support to University of Michigan Athletic programs and gives right back the Ann Arbor community.
“The Ann Arbor Art Fair is a great way for us to welcome customers into our store from all over the country,” said M Den on campus manager DeArron Haygood.
HEAR FROM THE ART FAIR DIRECTORS
This year’s Ann Arbor Art Fair is gearing up to be an exciting one for the artists, the businesses, the Ann Arbor community and beyond. Here is what each of the fairs’ directors are looking forward to most about this year’s fair.
Executive Director of the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, the Original, Angela Kline: “Each year I look forward to watching Ann Arbor blossom into the largest outdoor art gallery in the United States.”
Executive Director of the Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair, Karen Delhey: "In my 18th season with the fair, I can honestly say I am just as excited about this event as I was in my first season.”
Executive Director of the State Street Art Fair, Frances Todoro-Hargreaves: “In addition to the artists that are here annually, I am looking forward to the wonderful new artists and vendors. I am already making my shopping list.”
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