Ann Arbor Art Fair reports: good to mixed at midpoint
Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com
Depends on who you ask.
“You know, increasingly, we get people that walk the fair for the first day before they buy,” said Maggie Ladd, director of the South University Art Fair, one of the four individual fairs that together make up the event. “So I would hesitate to give an answer, because it’s not over ‘til the fat lady sings. I had an artist make a $10,000 sale last year at a quarter to 6 (on the last day), after the buyer had been looking for a few days.”
To further underline the idea that it’s too early to assess how this year’s fair is going, Ladd said that a former local, who now lives in Milwaukee, traveled back to Michigan for the event.
“He walked the entire fair yesterday, figuring out where the booths he wanted to visit are, and he’s out to buy today (Thursday). So I think the question is a bit premature.”
Raymond Papka—a Versailles, Kentucky-based mixed media artist who just won an Street Art Fair award for excellence—noted that foot traffic at Ingalls Mall wasn’t up to the level he was expecting, but he nonetheless benefitted from the “serious art buyer” crowd that tends to arrive on the morning of the first day.
“The first two and a half hours yesterday (Wednesday), I sold like mad,” said Papka. “It’s dropped off since then. No sales yet today. But I’m getting some come-backs.”
On North University, State Street Area Art Fair glass sculpture artist Michael George, from Scottsdale, Arizona, said of the crowds, “It’s my first time here, so I have nothing to gauge (expectations) on. But it’s a steady flow. I had some sales the first day (after 5 p.m.), so it’s good.”
Summer Art Fair wood artist George Efta, who primarily makes children’s puzzles (and whose booth is on Main Street), said, “It’s been pretty good because the weather’s been a little cooler. Last year was beastly hot. So we’re doing great in terms of crowds.”
Art Fair days’ weather thus far has varied, with a brief rainshower Wednesday morning, followed by a sunny, warm-to-hot afternoon; a more sustained rain on Thursday morning; and an overcast Thursday afternoon and evening.
“I was delighted with the weather (on Wednesday), and so were the artists,” said Ladd. “It was such a relief from the setup day before, which was grueling.”
The most optimistic mid-Fair report came from State Street Area Art Fair director Kathy Krick.
“(SSAAF artists) seem to have had a wonderful Wednesday,” Krick said. “Early on, Wednesday went like gangbusters for many of them. Then the day wound down, and people were looking more than buying. But right now (mid-afternoon Thursday), I’m standing at the end of Maynard, and I’ve never seen this many people out on a Thursday—which I take as a good sign.”
Krick noted that as she walked around her fair, handing out awards on Thursday, each winning booth had browsers and some buyers, despite the fact that Thursday is traditionally a slow day.
“I’m very optimistic,” Krick said. “It’s just Thursday, and we’re already doing pretty good, and the weekend brings out more buyers, since everyone’s off work then, and they have the time.”
Booth location and weather play a key role in all this, obviously. But it’s also a matter of what you sell, and who you sell it to.
“My sales are pretty good, because I have a lot of repeat business,” said Efta. “I have a new crop of 2-year-olds out there every year, so I never sell out my market here.”