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Posted on Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 5:53 a.m.

5 things to check out Wednesday at the Ann Arbor Art Fair

By Bob Needham

Full coverage of the 2013 Ann Arbor Art Fair

The Ann Arbor Art Fair can be an overwhelming experience, with more than 1,100 artists and all kinds of other attractions competing for your attention. Each day during the fair, will offer a few suggestions of things we think are worth checking out:

Motawi Tileworks booth—with a brand new Ann Arbor tile

With its off-the-beaten-path location west of Ann Arbor, sometimes it's easy to forget that Motawi Tileworks is part of the community. So its annual presence at the fair offers a great chance to see some of the amazing work produced there.

Motawi will have a slightlly different location this year, on South University just east of State Street (near the University of Michigan Museum of Art) in the South University Art Fair.

Motawi will unveil a new Ann Arbor-themed work at the fair: “Burton Tower,” showing the design of the iconic structure in Ingalls Mall. The art fair will mark the first time the design is shown in public.

Cool off, eat, drink, and listen at the Michigan Theater

Ann Arbor's historic movie palace, at 603 E. Liberty St. in the heart of the State Street Area Art Fair, always proves to be a great stop on art fair days. The theater opens to the public—you don't have to buy a movie ticket, although that's another idea—noon-8 p.m. Wednesday-Friday and noon-6 p.m. Saturday.

While you're there, you can simply sit and cool off if you like. But the theater will have grilled bratwurst, hot dogs, and its famous popcorn for sale, as well as soft drinks, bottled water, beer (Bell's and Miller products) and wine (cabernet, merlot, pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot grigio) for customers with a valid ID (you don't need to be a member of the theater). Seating is available both in the air-conditioned foyer and outside on the patio.

In addition, each day at 1:30 the theater offers a free concert on its historic 1927 Barton pipe organ: Wednesday, Bud Bates; Thursday, Henry Aldridge; Friday, Andrew Rogers; Saturday, Stephen Warner.


Timothy Monger

Music from Timothy Monger

Live entertainment is a big part of the art fair, with three separate stages showcasing acts throughout all four days of the fair.

Every day offers multiple highlights, but one good bet on Wednesday will certainly be Timothy Monger—the former leader of beloved local bands Great Lakes Myth Society and Original Brothers and Sisters of Love who now works mostly as a solo act.

Monger will appear at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Fountain Stage in Ingalls Mall, part of the Street Art Fair.

Monger writes on his website, "It's not far from State Street where I used to busk the three songs I knew as a 14 year old. Busking at the Art Fair was actually my earliest experience as a performer and while I don't consider myself too civilized to do so again, I'm glad to have a place to hang my hat this year and play for you through a nice sounding PA system on the big green lawn of the Mall."

A full entertainment schedule is available here.

The Macklins' sculpture fountains

Shannon and Gail Macklin of Flagstaff, Ariz., are back in Ann Arbor after an absence of about six years, Gail said during Tuesday's setup. Last week saw them at a fair in Royal Oak, but after this weekend, they'll take a break from the fair circuit.

The couple make elaborate fountains—which are designed to hold potted plants—out of copper and driftwood from the Pacific Northwest. They are designed to work indoors or out, and many feature moving parts.

Find out more at, or at their booth on Liberty Street west of Fourth Avenue in the Summer Art Fair.

Watch an artist in action

The big attraction of the fair is seeing finished works of art, but the event also offers great opportunities to see artists while they work.

The Street Art Fair offers a full schedule of artists showing how they do what they do throughout all four days of the fair: ceramics, drawing, jewelry, photography, and more.

In addition, the South University Art Fair will offer metalworking demonstrations throughout the fair at two booths on East University, and the Summer Art Fair will present a variety of demonstrations as well (see A2artfairmap2013.pdf for booth locations).

Bob Needham is a managing producer for Reach him at or 734-623-2541, and follow him on Twitter @bobneedham.



Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 7:46 p.m.

Naw. I'll just sit at home and read the snarky comments on This Fair never fails to be on the hottest week of the year. Bring your sunscreen and plenty of water.

Honest Abe

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 4:33 p.m.

You can have the Art Fair. An event that features overpriced junk that you may know as 'art'!. By the way, enjoy walking around hundreds of tents that look the same while roasting from the sun and the asphalt your feet are on. I'll enjoy my nice central air, sip on a ice tea, and save my money.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 3:30 p.m.

Thanks for the Motawi mention, Bob.! ABOUT STROLLERS: My children and I have gone every year for 18 years, since they were babies. We love our annual tradition even if we buy little or nothing. The first year, we drew an angry comment because my sister hesitated extremely briefly as we tried to get the stroller on the shuttle bus. Somebody else snapped as we walked through a narrow passage when I stopped 5 seconds to talk about finding a restroom. There are not a lot of places to take babies--not most movies or concerts, quiet dinners, lectures, etc. We were trying to be respectful of the people around us. BUT, Moms (and Dads) are people , too; they might not have a lot of money for daycare or whatever. It is a sad day when parents don't feel welcome walking down the street. So, just be nice to the families, okay!! :-)


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 2:03 p.m.

The only thing worth checking out at Art Fair is the Liberty Food court! Fair food all I want to eat!


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 2:02 p.m.

Did they finally ban strollers this year? I hope so.

Rabbi Robert Levy

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 1:18 p.m.

Why all the comments about not going? Such wasted negativity.

David Wizard

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 3:26 p.m.

Some people just have the irresistible need to bring others down. It's kind of sad.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 2:14 p.m.

Au contraire Reb Levy, this is the best outlet for negativity we get all year, save for U-M's first football loss...


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 2:06 p.m.

Because: 1) its overrated, 2) its hot as heck, 3) the strollers and dogs ruin it for everyone, 4) many love to be contrary


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 1:02 p.m.

If a baby is still in a stroller, then they don't care about art fair. And it's no place for dogs either.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 1:29 p.m.

That's why I haven't gone in a few years. I used to hate watching out for strollers or walking behind slow moving parents. I didn't have the patience for it then, now with a child of my own I *know* I don't have the patience for it now.

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 12:50 p.m.

I missed 22 fairs in 25 years. The trend will continue.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 6:51 p.m.

Well...I've lived in this town 42 years, since birth. I missed the fair last year but am making a point to go this year. It's always fun, even just to window shop. Just wish it wasn't always so hot every year, but it's survivable!

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 2:19 p.m.

tegel, I haven't been to Briarwood in years. Josh, I don't feel special I feel like 50% of the people who have lived in this town for years.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 2:10 p.m.

Just because he doesn't patronize the over-hyped fairs (you've seen one, you've seen them for at least 5 years) doesn't mean he doesn't support local businesses. Most of the profits derived from the fairs goes home with the artists and back to corporate HQ for the hotels. Support local businesses and artists and boycott the fairs!

Josh Thiele

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 1:28 p.m.

You must feel special! Here's a medal for you!


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 1:17 p.m.

Have fun shopping at Briarwood.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 12:46 p.m.

Heat advisory out there. Leave the strollers and pets at home.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 12:25 p.m.

Timothy Monger is awesome! Best news of the fair, thank you for featuring him.

Bob Needham

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 12:42 p.m.

Happy to. He's a great talent.

Bob Needham

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 12:21 p.m.

I think we've heard in the past that Wednesday tends to have the most serious buyers, presumably because the selection is at its peak.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 11:58 a.m.

I'm going to check out the fair after work today. Wednesday is the best day to do it too.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 12:20 p.m.

Shhhhh. Don't tell everyone. We also are going today to avoid the larger crowds.


Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 11:32 a.m.

Guess I will check it out on the news! Been years since I have gone to the art fair.

dading dont delete me bro

Wed, Jul 17, 2013 : 11:29 a.m.

i'll check it out from my home.