What’s New at the 2024 Ann Arbor Art Fair?

Ann Arbor art fair information booth

The Ann Arbor Art Fair presented by Eli Lilly has been taking over the downtown streets in July for more than 50 years and draws in nearly half a million people to the city. The Ann Arbor Art Fair is composed 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 District Art Fair. Three fairs, one event and a beloved Midwest tradition, the Ann Arbor Art Fair features top juried artists from across the country for an entertaining three days. From live music to art demonstrations to international exhibits and more, the fair’s three directors – and artists – work hard year-round to keep things new and exciting for fairgoers every year.

So, what is new in 2024? The Ann Arbor Art Fair’s three directors have the details!

Angela Kline, executive director of the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, the Original
Angela Kline
Q: This is the first year that Dart For Art touches the footprint of all three fairs. Can you tell us more about Dart For Art and the exciting new July 16 joint kickoff event, the Paint the Town Block pARTy, that it “runs” into?

A: Dart For Art is an all-inclusive one-mile run/walk in the heart of downtown Ann Arbor and presented by Bank of Ann Arbor. This is a fundraising event with fun activities that supports our free community arts education programs and 10% of all race registration fees will go to the Ann Arbor Bicentennial Initiatives. Race Registration is open now at DartForArt.org. I was overjoyed when I was able to create a course for Dart For Art that touched all three fairs of the Ann Arbor Art Fair! And it’s wonderful that the race leads into the Paint the Town Block pARTy hosted by my fellow directors. I am fortunate to be surrounded by these hardworking visionaries that love teamwork, inclusiveness and, most of all, fun! Dart For Art and the Paint the Town Block pARTy will be a city-wide kick off to celebrate not only the Ann Arbor Art Fair, but also the 200th birthday of Ann Arbor.

Q. For years, the Ann Arbor Art Fair has kicked off with events like Paint the Town and the Townie Party, but this year the fair is hosting one big community celebration on July 16. What can you tell us about that and who’s involved?

A: The Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, The Original, is honored and grateful to have hosted the Townie Party for the past 20 years. The future is bright as the three art fairs come together and create a community celebration for the entire town with Dart For Art and The Paint the Town Block pARTy on July 16!

Those who plan to Dart into the pARTy are in for a fun filled night of activities. Starting at 5 p.m., Dart For Art fun includes Ann Arbor Symphony Instrument Petting Zoo, Putt-R-Round Pop Up Putt Putt, Conrad the Unicorn, crafts with University of Michigan Wassily Kandinsky and Georges Seurat, a DJ and a live broadcast from 107.1.

The Paint the Town Block pARTy, hosted by the Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair and the Ann Arbor State Street District Art Fair also starts at 5 p.m., and will include restaurants and local businesses coming out into the streets, David Zinn and his famous chalk murals, Plein Art Painting and several community groups are hosting activities highlighting the great things happening in and around Ann Arbor.

Q: What else is new this year with the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, The Original?

A: There is so much to explore this year. Youth Art Fair has graduated to take place during the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, the Original, with youth enjoying even more mentorship and fun by exhibiting among the over 200 professional and NANA artists. To celebrate our fair's 65th year and the city's bicentennial, the Ann Arbor District Library will host a history booth with historical photos and information. UM Penny Stamps School of Art and Design will host an all ages bookmark making activity. You will find eight gourmet food vendors from Zingerman’s Roadhouse to Vegano. Additionally, our Fountain Stage will be sponsored by 107.1.

Art by Xavier Nuez for Ann Arbor art fair

New Artist Xavier Nuez: Returning to the fair this year after a long hiatus is artist Xavier Nuez. Nuez, an acclaimed art photographer and former Ann Arbor resident, uses light as his "paintbrush" and darkness as his "canvas." He creates stunning night-time photos of ordinary or "ugly" subjects, transforming them into "fantasy worlds" or "happy places." The New York Times praised his Alleys & Ruins series as a masterpiece, and his work has been featured in exhibitions and collections worldwide.

Angela Heflin, executive director of the Ann Arbor State Street District Art Fair

Angela Heflin of ann arbor art fair

Q: This is your first year as the executive director of the Ann Arbor State Street District Art Fair, your first year with the Ann Arbor Art Fair, how are you settling into your new role and what are you most excited for?

A: As I settle into my new role as executive director of State Street District, I’m energized by the opportunity to cultivate community connections, diversity and inclusivity. What excites me most is the immense potential to forge transformative partnerships to make a difference in our community. Through these collaborations and partnerships, we can amplify the voices or our talented artists' while simultaneously contributing to the vibrancy of our downtown Ann Arbor. 

Q: The fair launched a new logo this year, designed by a member of your team. How does the new logo represent the fair now and going forward?

A: The unveiling of our new logo signifies a significant milestone in the collaboration between the spearheading the Ann Arbor Art Fair, showcasing a shared vision and steadfast dedication to fostering community growth. Crafted by the talented Carissa Petty, State Street District’s director of operations, the logo embodies the essence of ‘three fairs, one event’ while incorporating elements that celebrate the diversity of artistic expressions.

Q: What else is new this year with the Ann Arbor State Street District Art Fair?

A: There is a lot of new stuff to talk about this year in the State Street District Art Fair. The University of Michigan’s Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design will host an outdoor art gallery right outside of the Diag, our local restaurants will have Grab & Go locations throughout the fair, 60 Second Sketchers will be doing caricatures at no cost to the public at Tower Plaza and Circus Tumbleweed will engage the public in artistic street performances.

We’re partnering with Michigan Arts Access and Creative Expressions to provide professional arts opportunities for artists, writers, performers and musicians. We have expanded our Marketplace with an online preview to provide affordable selections, fun and treats to go. And this year we’re having a bigger and better stage with shade on Williams Street sponsored by Michigan Public Radio.

Artist Kenneth Rosenthal lighthouse image for ann arbor art fair

New Artist Kenneth Rosenthal: This year marks photographer Kenneth Rosenthal's debut at the Ann Arbor Art Fair. Known for his vibrant landscape photos, Rosenthal adds unique colors and elements to his work, often honoring loved ones he has lost. Kenneth developed an early interest in art and various media by watching his mother, an art teacher and painter. Kenneth participates in the Gersher Human Services Creative Expressions program.

Karen Delhey, executive director of the Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair

Karen Dehley ann arbor art fair

Q: Karen, you’ve been with the Ann Arbor Art Fair for many years, but this is the fair’s first year with a presenting sponsor. What can you tell us about the new sponsor, how that partnership came to be and what the sponsorship means to the fair?

A: Led by Allison Neal with the Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair, the three fairs work together to secure sponsorships for the whole event. Allison developed a relationship with Eli Lilly two years ago when they came on for the first time as a sponsor. Due to their positive experience with the event, they have grown their participation over the last few years culminating in this year's presenting sponsorship. We are very excited to have their support. The sponsorship helps us to cover the costs of putting on an event of this magnitude without overburdening the artists that come to participate and allows us to keep the event and activities free to the community. It also allows us to add new artful activities to the event, such as a partnership with the University of Michigan’s Arts Initiative for two hands-on art making activities at their location on E. Liberty.

Q:  At the joint kickoff event on July 16, you and the other directors will be donating and dedicating a sculpture to the city in honor of the bicentennial. What can you tell us about the sculpture, its artist and what it means for the community?

A: The sculpture, “Tree of Life,” was created by Richard Morgan (Richard Alan Studios), who worked as a welder for 35 years before becoming an artist and metal sculptor, and heavily uses reclaimed materials in his work. In addition to representing the cycle of life, this sculpture also celebrates the city’s nickname – Tree Town – and will expand the city’s public art collection when it is installed at the corner of State Street and North University.

Q: What else is new this year with the Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair?

A: The Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair will have over 400 artists participating, including several new artists and beloved returning artists presenting their new work. We are proud to host the We Roar Exhibition in partnership with the Prison Creative Arts Project (PCAP) and to raise the voices of people in prison and their experiences. And we’re partnering with PCAP’s Linkage Community to support their emerging artists, who will be located in a tent next to the We Roar exhibit. We are also excited to welcome our 2024 Emerging Artists Program cohort, which will include up to 12 juried artists invited to sell their work at the fair after they complete a series of educational art fair career workshops. The Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair will also see the return of The Stage on Main featuring evening performances curated by The Ark (sponsored by WEMU) and Chalk the Walk with local artist David Zinn.

Norman Morgan art for ann arbor art fair

New Artist Norman Morgan: After 20 years as an Army soldier and nearly 10 as an Army Civilian, Norman Morgan pursued his artistic passions by studying jewelry making at the Mountain Metalsmiths School of Jewelry in Canton, NC. He developed a keen interest in chase and repousse', a technique using hammers and punches to shape metal. Trained by Master Fabrizio Aquafresca of Florence, Italy, Morgan now excels in creating bracelets, pendants and earrings with his wife Emily.

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