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Posted on Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 5:54 a.m.

5 things to check out Thursday at the Ann Arbor Art Fair: Fairy doors, buskers and more

By Jenn McKee

Related: 5 things to check out Wednesday at the Ann Arbor Art Fair
The Mega Guide: Full coverage of the 2013 Ann Arbor Art Fair

The Ann Arbor Art Fair offers countless fascinating sights—as well as sounds, tastes, smells and experiences.

Here are a few suggestions for things you might want to check out Thursday—and add your own in a comment at the end of this post:


Local artist Bob Simmons' fairy doors were a huge hit on the first day of the Ann Arbor Art Fair.

Photo by Jenn McKee |

• Fairy door fever

Big crowds were flocking early on Wednesday to Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair artist Bob Simmons’ fairy-door booth at State Street and South University.

Simmons has made the doors for 4 years, and sold them for 2; this is his first year at the Art Fair. Some are done in the traditional Irish style—which is to say, the doors don’t open, and “only ‘fairy magic’ can open them”—but Pat Simmons, Bob’s wife, said, “So many people asked for doors that open, we started making those. … And if a fairy comes to visit, it indicates good fortune.”

How do you know when a fairy has come calling?

“My granddaughter would write a note and leave it in front of the door, on the outside stoop,” said Bob Simmons. “The note would be gone the next day, with a note from the fairy in its place. We have four years of correspondence between the fairy and my granddaughter, and she’ll receive those notes as a gift one day.”

This story almost made me reflexively pull out my own wallet.

• For the kids

If I manage to get one or both of my young daughters out to the fair this year, we’ll definitely head to the Street Art Fair’s Art Activity Zone (off Washington, between Thayer and Fletcher), where there’s face painting, as well as opportunities to make a bubble wand, paper flowers, wings, a wand, a mask, and a mixed-media sculpture made from recycled materials—and it’s all in the shade, which only makes it more appealing.


Detail from Beverly Hayden's wheel of cocktail options.

Photo by Jenn McKee |

• Spinning your (artful) wheels

Not sure what cocktail to have this evening, or what board game to play?

Well, spin one of the wheel of fortune-like spinners created by Chatanooga, Tenn. artist Beverly Hayden.

She’s twice shown work at the Street Art Fair as a photographer; this is her first year participating as a mixed-media artist. Her booth is on the west side of Ingalls Mall, just north of North University.

“I came across an old (spinner) from a carnival, with just black and red wedges on it, and I thought, ‘This would be fun to see what other ideas I could put on there,’” said Hayden. “I started with travel brochures, and later expanded to the cocktails and games, but I also do customized ones. It’s like a modern-day family quilt.”

• Chamber rock

When you faintly hear a string trio playing the Four Tops’ “Reach Out (I’ll Be There)” and Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir”—seriously, how could you not walk toward it?

The three-person “pied piper” in this instance is Ann Arbor’s Horizon Strings Group—composed of violinist Rebecca A. Kaltz, cellist (and new mom) Michelle Kulwicki, and violinist Phoebe Gelzer-Govatos—who will likely be out playing every morning during the Art Fair at Thompson and William (just beyond the fair’s boundaries).

“We’ve been in the area for about 8 years, so we decided to busk this year,” said Kaltz.

Check out their hard-rocking bow work here:

• Unexpected "cooling station"

Though it’s not listed among the Art Fair’s cooling stations, the shaded, tunnel-like strip on Maynard, between Liberty and William, felt like an oasis on Wednesday.

So if you’re around that part of the fair during a sauna-like day, pop over to hear the audible (and surprised) gasps of relief from all who enter.

The Ann Arbor Art Fair continues through Saturday. Check out full coverage here.

Jenn McKee is an entertainment reporter for Reach her at or 734-623-2546, and follow her on Twitter @jennmckee.


Elijah Shalis

Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 3:59 p.m.

too hot for the art fair this year. Try rescheduling it next year.


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 3:49 p.m.

To be clear, The Simmons' fairy doors are not affiliated with urban-fairies, though inspired by those doors (which are not being sold). Bob & Pat's doors are beautiful, handcrafted doors each crafted from unique pieces of wood. Urban-Fairies at the Artisan Market on Sunday, August 4th, 11-4 will include Fairy Hill Woodworks (Bob & Pat Simmons)


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 3:38 p.m.

My wife and I went down to the Fairs last night for a few hours. Very thin crowds. It was easy to walk around, but most booths were devoid of customers. Very very hot for everyone. A lot of artists looked bored or were on their iphones. Those that we talked to said it was really slow yesterday.

Steve Krause

Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 2:32 p.m.

Speaking of busking: according to his Twitter feed and a few other sources out there on the 'net, @ViolinMonster (the guy who plays violin around town wearing a monster/wolfman mask) was chased off from busking. I don't know all the details, but that might be a story worth checking out.


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 5:59 p.m.

From the monster's FB page: "I had an extremely disappointing first day at the Ann Arbor Art Fair. Almost immediately, State Street Art Fair representatives told me I was not allowed to perform. The police officers that came were extremely nice, and seemed to be siding with me, but they ultimately had to proceed under advisement from their sergeant. The best way I can put it is that the Art Fair has effectively bought my beloved city of Ann Arbor during these four days, and has complete authority to do as they wish on its public streets and sidewalks. The State Street organization seemed to be concerned with money - since I hadn't paid them for space, they didn't want me there."

An Arborigine

Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 3:39 p.m.

Need to make room for the homeless beggars


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 3:14 p.m.

Sorry, the city is rented out this week.


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 3:11 p.m.

Yes! I saw this on facebook last night and it made me super sad to hear that our local musicians are being discouraged from busking, its just wrong!

Paula Gardner

Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 2:43 p.m.

We are trying to reach him. Thanks for the suggestion!


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 12:35 p.m.

Thank you for the great coverage and info for art fair. I'm enjoying the pics, video and live stream. I'm going to check out the misting tent. I'm also enjoying these articles with interviews with the artists.


Thu, Jul 18, 2013 : 10:57 a.m.

Thanks for this series! We're headed to the Art Fairs for the first time in years and will be sure to check out a few. I had never heard of Motawi Tileworks - thanks!