Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, The Original
It is impossible to describe the number of artists, visitors, restaurants, shops, etc that take place in the annual Ann Arbor Street Art Fair. The fairs are judged and you will find artwork in every media and at ever price. Half a million people descend on this town every year. This was a good year for the fair-weatherwise, if a bad year economically. I saw as many people as ever, but less artwork being purchased.
The oldest of the four art fairs, taking place mid-July, the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, The Original, was established in 1960 by a collaboration between the Ann Arbor Art Association, the University of Michigan, and two business groups. For 50 years, The Ann Arbor Street Art Fair has been connecting a carefully selected group of artists with an appreciative audience from Ann Arbor and across the country. During this half century, the Fair has won many awards, provided substantial economic benefit to the local business community, and often been recognized as the brand of Ann Arbor.
The “Original” moniker in the Fair’s title comes not only from the event’s history, but from its unique role as a leader in the art fair community. It was the first Fair to jury an outdoor show in 1965 and was integral in the creation of the online jurying system Zapplication, now in use by hundreds of fairs across the country.
The Fair has also been a leader in programming throughout the years, initiating events like the Townie Street Party. This special free kick off event takes place the Monday before the start of the Fairs (July 13th 2009) and gives the community a chance to celebrate the Art Fairs before the crowds come to town. Other programs like the Kid’s Art Fair give young artists the opportunity to exhibit and sell their work. The New Artist Program allows University level artists to experience what it’s like to fully participate in the Street Art Fair.
The Performances on the Lawn program is a big hit with the Fair crowd too. Housed within a huge 60’x 90’ tent, this line up s \howcases an exciting and eclectic mix of music, dance and magic by local community groups and professionals that is family friendly, forward thinking and innovative. The Performances on the Lawn program features over 30 acts throughout the four days of the Fair, creating an intimate and inviting sense of community that complements the exceptional visual art that surrounds it.
The Fair also hosts Imagination Stations with “make and take” activities for younger children and Visual Art Workshops as well. Programs like these help to encourage a broader understanding of art while providing area artists with an opportunity to engage fairgoers in community art projects. The Original Fair has recently made a huge commitment to sustainability as well, introducing the Zero Waste Program in 2008 with a goal of minimal environmental impact. This program was one of three invited to present at the 2009 annual MFEA Conference.
As a result of its leadership, The Original Fair has won numerous awards, including the Governors Award (State of Michigan), several Reader’s Choice Awards (Ann Arbor News, Ann Arbor Current), a Gold Pinnacle Award (International Festivals and Events Association), and the title of the Number One Art Fair in the country (according to the AmericanStyle magazine readers survey, October 2004). It has made the list of Top Ten Fairs and Festivals every year since.
In 2003, the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, the Original relocated to North University Avenue and the streets surrounding the landmark Burton Carillon Tower. This gorgeous new location on the University of Michigan’s Central Campus is set amidst elegant architecture and beautifully landscaped pedestrian walkways.
Ann Arbor State Street Art Fair
The Ann Arbor State Street Art Fair was established in 1968 and is sponsored by the Ann Arbor Street Area Association. It features almost 400 artists and takes place in the shopping districts around State Street.
Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair
The Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair was established in 1960 and is run by the The Guild of Artists & Artisans. Originally called the Free Arts Festival and held on the Diag, in the University of Michigan's Central Campus, in the mid-70s it was renamed to become the Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair. Currently, it is held in two locations, one on State Street, and the other on Main Street and Liberty Street between Main and 4th Avenue. In addition to 375 professional artists, the fair also features performances and children's activities.
2009: Celebrating 50 years of Ann Arbor's Art Fairs ~ [The Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair Website]
Ann Arbor South University Art Fair
"Diversity, Live it on South U" Celebrating 50 years of Art on the streets of Ann Arbor
Ann Arbor's South University Art Fair: Since the first Fair appeared on South University in 1960 many things have changed and yet so much remains the same. The idea for an Art Fair, first proposed by Bruce Henry, owner of Artisan’s Gallery on South University, now has a life of its own. Colorful paper fish hung by the merchants flew gaily from the lamp-posts during the first fair and that theme is echoed in this years poster designed by Chuck Wimmer (Booth E191). Ann Arbor’s South University Art Fair featuring almost 150 artists is where the past meets the future. Cutting edge creations blend with traditional styles, and local and international artists combine to bring you the unmistakable flavor which epitomizes the youngest of the Ann Arbor Art Fairs. Great ethnic restaurants, hip and quirky stores plus plenty of easy access parking at the Forest Parking Deck make South U. the best possible starting place for your Art Fair adventure.
Whether you return via bus to your car in the shopping center empty handed or full of art, you will enjoy the fair. The food itself is reason to attend.
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