Local Artists Reflect on Ann Arbor Art Fair


Ann Arbor Art Fair 2017

The poster for 2017's Ann Arbor Art Fair by Debo Groover.

The Ann Arbor Art Fair showcases the work of artists from around the country, but it’s also an important outlet for many local artists as well. Here, some working artists from the greater Ann Arbor area who are exhibiting this year share some thoughts on the event. The fair takes place July 20-23; for more information, see the Pulp preview article.

Ann Arbor Art Fair 2017
Benjamin Bigelow
Primary medium: 2D mixed media (printmaking background combined with painting and drawing)
Residence: Ypsilanti/Pittsfield Township
Age: 43
Exhibiting at: South University Art Fair
The fair offers “an opportunity to meet and talk directly with people about my art. It allows for networking and leads to other art opportunities. … It is an opportunity for local artists to see and meet artists from across the country. See and meet artists who make their living selling their art. It provides a different vision of being a maker of art than what you normally see in the Ann Arbor arts community. That diversity of approach is important for the greater arts community. It also keeps Ann Arbor's reputation as a community that supports art and artists.”

Ann Arbor Art Fair 2017
Ruth Crowe
Primary medium: Encaustics, photography, image transfer
Residence: Ann Arbor
Age: 58
Exhibiting at: Ann Arbor Street Art Fair
“This is my first time to exhibit at any art fair! I've lived here in Ann Arbor for nine years and didn't start my art career until four years ago. This experience will be exciting and interesting to be on the other side of the booth looking out -- rather than looking in as I have done for years. I am thrilled to be a part of one of the best art fairs in the country.”

Ann Arbor Art Fair 2017
Debbie Demyanovich
Primary medium: Glass
Residence: Brighton
Age: 66
Exhibiting at: State Street District Art Fair
“The Ann Arbor Art Fair is iconic and prestigious. I have lived in Southeast Michigan my entire life, and the Ann Arbor Art Fair has always been known as a must-see thing to do. I always felt proud that we had such a nationally known event in our community. … It really pumps me up to have been chosen and to exhibit at this particular fair. … Not only is the fair being visited, but all the local galleries and museums as well. Without the art fair, that amount of exposure would never be realized.”

Ann Arbor Art Fair 2017
Helen Gotlib
Primary medium: drawing and printmaking
Residence: Dexter
Age: 36
Exhibiting at: Ann Arbor Street Art Fair
“The Ann Arbor show is the largest outdoor art show in the country, and I have lots of artist friends who travel here from all over the U.S. Getting to see all of them and their newest artworks in one place is always fun! … The show gives artists a place to exhibit their work when there aren't many venues in the downtown area to do that. It also provides emerging artists with a viable way to start to make a living off of their work. The show exposes the public to a very diverse group of artist, points of view, and a great variety of work. Being able to come in contact with people that have such a wide variety of experience and talents is always mind expanding, in my opinion.”

Ann Arbor Art Fair 2017
Leigh Hollmann
Primary medium: Decorative fiber
Residence: Pittsfield/Ann Arbor
Age: 50
Exhibiting at: Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair
“It’s an opportunity to display my work for people to see, but also it gives me the chance for me to tell my story about my art to art fair goers. It also gives me a chance to talk to fellow artists about their work. … The art fair helps fuel Ann Arbor's economy, both larger business (restaurants and brick-and-mortar shops) as well as small business -- the artists themselves. It is also is a wonderful way to bring the community together. Artists are able share with the community, as well as other artists, their stories of what keeps them coming back to the studio every day.”

Ann Arbor Art Fair 2017
Nawal Motawi
Primary medium: Ceramic art tile
Residence: Ann Arbor
Age: 52
Exhibiting at: South University Art Fair
“Attending the fair and visiting certain artists is a beloved ritual for so many. Often people attend with rarely seen friends and clearly enjoy each other’s company as much as the art. The positive energy is palpable. It’s great to hang out collecting compliments on my work and people watching. The fairs give local artists who are seriously talented, but not seriously profit producing, a place on the national stage once a year. And we are all enriched by the inspiring work that descends on the town, and the friendships that develop during this crazy week in Ann Arbor.”

Ann Arbor Art Fair 2017
Mari Pruks
Primary medium: digital photography/mixed media
Residence: Ann Arbor
Age: 40
Exhibiting at: Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair
“(This year) is my first time exhibiting my art in my own booth. I have shown and sold my art in the past in 16 Hands gallery during the art fair. I loved how many people came. I do not know how it will go this year, but I am very excited and happy that I can participate my own town, and I love Ann Arbor. I think (the fair) is extremely important for the greater Ann Arbor art community. When so many amazingly talented artist come together it will inevitably inspire more creativity in everyone. It brings soulfulness in our already soulful city.”


Bob Needham is a freelance writer; the former arts & entertainment editor of The Ann Arbor News and AnnArbor.com; and a veteran Ann Arbor Art Fair-goer.


The 2017 Ann Arbor Art Fair runs 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Thursday, July 20; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday, July 21; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday, July 22; and noon-6 p.m. Sunday, July 23. Admission is free. Read our guide to the event: "Making the Most of Ann Arbor Art Fair 2017." The fair takes place throughout the downtown and campus areas of Ann Arbor; for specific locations including closed streets, see the official Art Fair map. For more information, see the Ann Arbor Art Fair website. Visit artfair.aadl.org to see the library's Art Fair archives.