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Posted on Sun, Jul 21, 2013 : 8 a.m.

Saturday attendance at Ann Arbor Art Fair helps compensate for hot week

By Lisa Carolin


Saline resident Megan Foster reads a magazine while checking out the Art Fair on South University Avenue on Saturday, July 20.

Daniel Brenner |

Hot, hot temperatures inevitably will be what many vendors and patrons remember most about the 2013 Ann Arbor Art Fair.

Temperatures in the 90s persisted through Friday and made it a physical challenge to do everything from walking up and down the street to manning a booth. Fortunately, Saturday's cooler temperatures and decreased humidity boosted attendance on the final day.

"It's so crowded. It's unbelievable" said Debra "Max" Clayton, executive director of the Summer Art Fair. "The rain last night cleared out some of the humidity, and a lot of people planned their trip to the art fair based on the weather report. This art fair will not go down in the record book for sales. People haven't been staying as long because of the heat, but the people who come when it's hot are serious shoppers."

"It's like this every day where I live," visitor Dennis Ratz from Fort Myers, Fla., said Saturday. He said he wasn't particularly bothered by the heat and humidity. "I like the variety at this art fair and especially enjoy the different kinds of 3-D paintings."

Shayna Slowinski from Ann Arbor was undeterred by the week's hot temperatures. She said, "I love the big, colorful windows and the scarf booths the best."

However, vendors had the challenge of spending long hours enduring the stagnant heat and were hopeful that Saturday's slightly cooler temperatures would mean bigger crowds.

"We (were) all thinking positively today that more people will be here," said Tom Schillaci, owner of Photography by Schillaci "It seems like the number of people at the art fair was lower this year because of the heat."

Diane Sicheneder, owner of Sicheneder Artworks, said every year she's been at the Ann Arbor Art Fair, it's been hot.


EdgeWise Forge manager James Viste hammers heated iron during the Ann Arbor Art Fair on South University Avenue on Saturday.

Daniel Brenner I

"Wednesday was OK, Thursday was great, and Friday was really slow for business," she said. "People get lethargic when it's hot."

State Street Area Art Fair Director Kathy Krick agreed that Friday was a slow day at the art fair, and unfortunately, the day many of artists depend on.

"Sales today may make up for it," said Krick. "I've heard from a painter, a sculptor and a jeweler that this has been their most successful art fair in terms of sales."

Maggie Ladd, director of the South University Art Fair, said their were some niches that were doing well. "I've heard from jewelers who have done a good business this year as well as several artists and a furniture maker who have done well."

Water was definitely among the best selling items this year.

"The (air-conditioned) trolleys have been very popular too," said Krick.

Maureen Riley, executive director of the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair said she has a feeling it will turn out to be a good year.

"Crowds have been down but sales have been pretty good," said Riley. "We have such loyal collectors and buyers in Ann Arbor that a little hot weather doesn't deter their art buying mission."

Lisa Carolin is a freelance reporter for Contact the news desk at 743-623-2530.



Mon, Jul 22, 2013 : 7:08 p.m.

Bring back the Art Train?

Jenn McKee

Mon, Jul 22, 2013 : 4:44 p.m.

I don't doubt that some artists were disappointed with this year's turnout/sales - with 1,100 artists involved in the A2 Art Fair, you're inevitably going to hear a broad range of experiences and responses; but speaking as someone who was out at the Art Fair for a few hours Wed., Thurs., and Friday, I must add that most of the artists I spoke to reported that they had a good opening day - overall attendance numbers don't matter when those who come out really, really want to buy - and though sales tended to wilt as the hot days wore long, they were still doing OK. Some were even doing really, really well. Again, it's hard to gauge and get an accurate overall picture, given the huge numbers of artists on-site.


Mon, Jul 22, 2013 : 3:37 p.m.

Many can't handle the high temps let alone make purchasing decisions during Art Fair. With temps expected to rise in the coming years it might be wise to start the discussion on moving the dates and times to a more temperate place on the calendar.


Mon, Jul 22, 2013 : 12:42 p.m.

I have confidence the four Art Fairs can reach full potential with some simple finishing touches, like Dodge-'Em cars and clowns you can dunk in a tank with a well-thrown baseball.


Mon, Jul 22, 2013 : 11:10 a.m.

Reality check. The Ann Arbor Art Fairs ARE overrated and overpriced. They act like it's still THE fair that artists have to be at when this simply isn't the case, and hasn't been, for at least a decade. It's clear artists and visitors aren't welcome here, they're gouged as much as possible. There are substantially more meaningful and cost effective fairs available for the artists to participate in and the artists will continue to gravitate towards those.


Mon, Jul 22, 2013 : 4:16 a.m.

The Art Fair used to draw far and wide, not just Ann Arborites, but now Michigan just isn't as wealthy as it used to be and it's showing.


Sun, Jul 21, 2013 : 10:11 p.m.

For those who missed it, here is a very small portion:


Sun, Jul 21, 2013 : 6:26 p.m.

They may call it ART but I didn't see anything FAIR about the prices.


Mon, Jul 22, 2013 : 12:45 a.m.

Yeah yeah yeah. You guys need a new slogan.

Local Artist

Sun, Jul 21, 2013 : 6:07 p.m.

Most of the Artist that I spoke to including myself were quite disappointed with the turn out, yes... it was hot! But it's always hot, I can remember the last time that the weather was pleasant at the Art Fair. Many artist said that they would not come back next year even if they got the booths for free. The end of Maynard St. was one of the areas that was most neglected by the patrons, I spoke to many of the artist and the word that I kept hearing was "this fair is overrated! we have done better at the other smaller fair." Being a local I was not happy to hear this! My pride ached....


Mon, Jul 22, 2013 : 1:57 a.m.

You had to speak to yourself about this?


Mon, Jul 22, 2013 : 12:44 a.m.

Very sad to hear. It's too bad really. So many locals have jumped on the anti-art fair bandwagon that it has become almost "uncool" to go to the fair now. I personally think most of the prices are fairly reasonable, given the amount of time, effort and materials to make the art, the time and effort and cost to transport it, and the booth fees, hotel costs, cost of gas, cost of food while on the road... Wake up Ann Arbor. You are going to miss the fair when it is gone!


Sun, Jul 21, 2013 : 5:19 p.m.

Unaffordable prices are what I will remember about this year's art fair.


Sun, Jul 21, 2013 : 3:55 p.m.

We missed some of the regulars; maybe their high prices made it not worth the trip/setup/cost at art fair; the flower pot/kaleidoscope guy, the water-and-air-blown metal couch/furniture guy, the real-looking waxwork people guy, etc. Nice to see some newcomers (although still very high-price); the metal cactus guy, another weathervane/whirlygig guy. Of course, I may have just not seen who I say was missing or not noticed the new ones last time. I will say that the number of crappy carnival-type marketing booths was depressing; MI lottery, BIC grill-disc, Fiat, XFinity, come on up, spin the wheel, blah blah. Just really diluting the whole experience. Maybe it's gotten to the point at which the fair relies on corporate sponsorship. If that's the case, I say dial the whole thing down. Seeing all the crap corporate marketing right after we got 3 7-11's, a CVS and Walgreens within 100 yards of each other on one of the best streets we have, all the chains; I'm in favor of capitalism, and realize some of these things are inevitable, but the artificially inflated prices of rents and fair booths seems to have us in a speedy snowballing decline.


Sun, Jul 21, 2013 : 3:08 p.m.

Finally, some honesty: "Crowds have been down. . . ." This has been a long-time trend. Take a look at this retrospective picture of the Art Fair from the early 1980s: There haven't been crowds like that in years. And, I doubt there were crowds like that yesterday.