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Posted on Tue, Jul 17, 2012 : 2:59 p.m.

No sweat, artists say, on Art Fair set-up during 100-degree heat in Ann Arbor

By Amy Biolchini

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 Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.



Thu, Jul 19, 2012 : 5:09 p.m.

But then they bare artists.An entirely different breed.


Wed, Jul 18, 2012 : 1:07 a.m.

Whoever runs the Ann Arbor Art Fair should really consider changing the dates. With heat like we have had nobody is going to go, just like last year, and the artists suffer. I was a helper (& sister) to an artist that was in the Art Fair last year & had to sit through the brutal heat during a record low attendance- it was horrible. People don't want to be out in this kind of heat and artists can't make money (after paying lots of money for a booth). Looks like a repeat again this year. Good luck artists

Paul Taylor

Tue, Jul 17, 2012 : 11:08 p.m.

This will be the first art fair in ages without Borders for people to crowd into for cooling purposes... I wonder what, if any, impact this will have on the fairs this year.


Tue, Jul 17, 2012 : 10:48 p.m.

Ugh. That is why I have an agent.

Doug Boynton

Tue, Jul 17, 2012 : 10:15 p.m.

1972 - so hot that the records warped while they played on the turntables in the WAAM remote trailer! Do any radio stations broadcast from the Art Fair any longer?


Tue, Jul 17, 2012 : 10:09 p.m.

I just heard, this might be another rain chasing moment, but we might get a good storm tonight. Fingers crossed We need the rain.

Madeleine Borthwick

Tue, Jul 17, 2012 : 11:22 p.m.

jns131, too right. those poor farmers.


Tue, Jul 17, 2012 : 9:56 p.m.

Keep adding images! You may yet entice me into attending.

John of Saline

Tue, Jul 17, 2012 : 11:52 p.m.

Maybe me. The guy with the gnome-eating metal sculptures is pretty cool.

Madeleine Borthwick

Tue, Jul 17, 2012 : 11:21 p.m.

Me either.


Tue, Jul 17, 2012 : 10:52 p.m.

Not me.

John of Saline

Tue, Jul 17, 2012 : 8:35 p.m.

Yeah, agreed. If the Art Fair can't bring torrential rain to the area, nothing can.

Urban Sombrero

Tue, Jul 17, 2012 : 8:16 p.m.

It's always hot at the art fair. What will be unusual is if we don't actually get storms during it. Bring on the heat, whatever. It won't dampen my excitement to attend. I'll be there, with bells on, with the rest of my family on Friday. I can't wait!

Macabre Sunset

Tue, Jul 17, 2012 : 8:01 p.m.

"There's a mental and physical toughness that comes with being an art-fair artist," Rollin Karg said. Yes, I remember reading that in the days of the Wild West, the Dalton gang feared nothing at all... except summer festivals.


Tue, Jul 17, 2012 : 7:37 p.m.

You should have included a picture of the barricaded underground parking lot. The worker guarding the surface lot said it would be open tomorrow at noon. She was surprised that the Art Fair was opening in the morning. Maybe, Susan Pollay doesn't know when the Art Fair opens either.

Kyle Mattson

Wed, Jul 18, 2012 : 1:13 a.m.

Sallxyz- Here is a link to the update regarding the parking garage from earlier today:


Tue, Jul 17, 2012 : 10:37 p.m.

So, can AA dot com provide info on whether or not the underground parking lot and surface lot will open on Wed and at what time?