No sweat, artists say, on Art Fair set-up during 100-degree heat in Ann Arbor
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On what could be the hottest day of the year - and the hottest day in history - for the Ann Arbor area, more than 1,000 artists spent Tuesday laboring outside under the sun to set up their tents and display their works in advance of the Ann Arbor Art Fairs that begin 10 a.m. Wednesday.
Tuesday afternoon, artists were still arriving to downtown Ann Arbor and setup was in full swing. Though the temperatures had caused most working outside to sweat through their shirts, many tents were already set up.
For Rollin and Patti Karg of Kechi, Kansas, the 100-degree heat in Ann Arbor was nothing compared with the 2,000 degree temperatures they use to craft their hand-blown glass wares.
“There’s a mental and physical toughness that comes with being an art-fair artist,” Rollin Karg said.
The couple carefully assembled a 96-inch-tall metal sculpture Tuesday afternoon on the sizzling pavement of Liberty Street near Thompson Street.
Though the Kargs said they could handle the heat just fine, they said their customers are the ones that usually suffer the most during the hot weather.
For Amy Leigh Carstensen of Tampa, Fla., her strategy was to work as fast as possible so she could escape to air conditioning. By 1:15 p.m. Tuesday, Carstensen had only a few more of her oil paintings to hang in her tent on North University Avenue.
“It’s cooler in Tampa,” Carstensen said of the weather.
The four-day, almost nonstop Ann Arbor Art Fairs are among the last of the summer art fairs, Carstensen said, and are at the “height of insanity.”
Last year, Carstensen said she stood in bags of ice during the sweltering temperatures to keep her cool.
Artist Sung Lee of Palm Springs, Calif., paused to take a break from the heat about 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, mopping the sweat from his forehead with a towel as he surveyed his work.
Lee said he got to Ann Arbor “as early as possible” Tuesday morning to set up his tent and display his prints and mixed media works in his booth on North University Avenue. By early Tuesday afternoon, his work was complete.
He’s been attending the Ann Arbor Art Fair for the past 10 years. The 2011 Art Fair was the hottest one he can remember, Lee said.
However, his move-in on Tuesday coincided with threats that the area could see a high of 105 - an all-time record.
Some of his fellow artists were waiting until later in the evening Tuesday to unload their trucks and trailers to try to escape the sun and high temperatures, Lee said.
The forecast calls for temperatures to taper downward into the mid-80s by the weekend. Wednesday's high will reach about 90 degrees, with a 50 percent chance of thunderstorms.
Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for AnnArbor.com. Reach her at (734) 623-2552, email@example.com or on Twitter.