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Posted on Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 2:09 p.m.

Ann Arbor Art Center tries new holiday strategy: extended weekend sale

By Angela Smith


Ann Arbor Art Center's retail gallery has changed out every piece of artwork for holiday shoppers.

From service to retail, local business owners know the holiday season can be a perfect time to boost sales before the end of the year.

The Ann Arbor Art Center is no exception. The center’s gallery Director Amy Farnum has been busily preparing for its biggest members-only sale that begins Thursday. Farnum says the center holds the sale as a thank-you for its 400 members.


Ann Arbor Art Center's holiday sale will feature jewelry like this item by local artist Libby Hampel.

Farnum says the art center has offered a Holiday Gift Preview Sale for the past several years. It’s a members-only sale where the gallery rolls out its newest merchandise for the holiday season at a 20 percent discount.

For the past several years, the sale has been a one-day event, but this year the center decided to extend the sale over four days, Thursday, Nov. 15 to Sunday, Nov. 18.

“Traditionally we’ve done our preview night on a Thursday, but members really look forward to this sale all year long, and are upset if they miss it.” Farnum says everything from $13,000 sculptures, to brightly colored paper jewelry will be available beginning Thursday, and that it’s a great kick-off for the holiday season.

Annually, the one-day sale has made up roughly 5 percent of the year’s sales, and the gallery is anticipating an even bigger yield this year. “The Main Street Area Association and all retail indicators are pointing to a better retail year (for holiday spending).”

Though the sale is open only to members, Farnum sees this as the perfect time for non-members to consider an art center membership. Membership packages run from $40 - $1,000. "It's tax deductible, and a great way to support local artists.” Members also receive free two-hour parking validation, and 10 percent discounts on classes at the center.


Artwork by Janelle Songer.

“The gallery has changed every piece of artwork on display for the season. This is a chance to buy the newest things for the holiday.” Farnum says 85 percent of the artists are Michigan-based, and that most sales are in the area of jewelry, ornaments and ceramics.

“We have six to seven jewelry artists, including Libby Hampel, who is from the Ann Arbor area.” According to the artist’s bio, Libby’s work challenges the viewer by expanding the traditional definition of jewelry to include materials one might not ordinarily think of as precious, especially paper. Many of the papers, findings, and beads used are from local shops in Ann Arbor. The sterling ear wires are of Libby’s own design and are handmade by her.

The art center is featuring ceramic pieces by Janelle Songer, including dinnerware that is inspired by the rain forests of Costa Rica.

“All that I found breathtaking about this lush, endangered habitat - the intense saturation of color, the dense moisture-laden air, the wild free flowing shapes - I have translated into the glaze and surface design of this ware," Songer said. "Each piece holds a small glimpse into the raw beauty that is the 'lungs' of our planet and is meant to inspire joy in the moment as well as hope for the future.”


A glass piece by Saline artist Brianna Baron.

Brianna Baron, a glass artist from Saline, also is being featured at the gallery. Baron's study of art has taken her to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Pilchuck Glass School. Her pieces are handmade glass sculptures that sometimes feature found objects.

Ann Arbor Art Center members will find another 20 percent off sale at the Main Street Area Association's Midnight Madness Sale on Nov. 30. The center will host a wine tasting event that same night, and non-members can also shop the holiday gallery collection at a 10 percent discount.

Angela Smith is a freelance reporter for



Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 1:23 p.m.

From a reader's point of view, it seems to me that an article written about a local business with the intent of increasing visibility and possibly commerce would be much enhanced by including the address of the referenced business. Of course I could look it up myself, but isn't that the job of the writer, not the reader?


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 3:23 p.m.

117 W. Liberty, Ann Arbor, MI 48104!

Kate Jones

Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 9:59 p.m.

Actually, there is a bit of misinformation in this article, The Ann Arbor Art Center's membership prices start at $40 for students and seniors, the individual membership price is $50 and it is $100 for a family membership.

Angela Smith

Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 11:54 p.m.

Thank you, Kate. That misprint has been corrected, and the article now includes the link to the center's membership page.


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 9:38 p.m.

Ok, I'll be the first to mention the Elephant in the Room with regards to the A2 art Center: The prices A2 Art Center charges for everything --- classes, items for sale, events --- are outrageous. $250 membership is high on the face of it, but check out their class costs sometime... They need to bring those prices down...they are outrageous.