The Palmer Park art fair was a popular spring attraction in the 1970s and 1980s. Now a community group and an event production company plan to revive the fair this May. (Mark Loeb / Integrity Shows)
Detroit— Remember warm breezes, green grass and ice cream dripping down a cone?
Hold on. Spring is only eight weeks away.
To celebrate the season, Detroit’s comeback and the city’s vibrant artistic community, the Palmer Park Art Fair returns in May after a more than 20-year absence.
What took so long?
“Detroit used to have many more art fairs until the economy started going south and the population headed north,” said Mark Loeb of Integrity Shows, an event producer. “Funding dried up when auto companies started laying off workers and decided they could not sponsor events.”
Loeb said other sponsors either disappeared or reallocated dollars in a different direction.
“And the city of Detroit inadvertently made it less possible for the smaller events to survive,” he said. “Increases in the health license fees, and the addition of a temporary business license were too costly for cultural events, which have much smaller budgets than sports or business activities.”
The revived outdoor exhibition, billed as the only large art fair in Detroit, will be produced by Integrity and People for Palmer Park, a nonprofit partnership that maintains the park.
“Palmer Park is the perfect place to host the new show,” said Rochelle Lento, the group’s president.
The Palmer Park Art Fair will include juried artists, artists who are well-known in Detroit, and some from around the country. Detroit artists Tim Burke, Donald Calloway, Hubert Massey, Michelle Sapp and others will serve as the artists’ committee.
Startup businesses from Food Lab, a collective of Detroit food entrepreneurs, also will be showcased.
“We welcome all mediums — glass, oil painting, multimedia, jewelry, fiber arts and wood,” said Loeb. “We are also working with some other organizations to prepare a few surprises.”
Loeb said the art fair will take place the first weekend in May, with the ticketed preview party May 2.
“This is just before Michigan’s fair season begins, so artists can add a new event to their schedule,” he said.
“The Palmer Park Art Fair may attract an audience that would not normally stop at the park, even if they drive by it each day,” said Loeb. “Seeing all the beauty — the art and the natural environment — will encourage them to return and enjoy the summer activities or a picnic by Lake Frances. We are working hard to break down barriers between younger and older artists and audiences from the city and suburbs by creating an event that’s welcoming to them all.”
Artists are invited to apply to show and sell their work by the March 30 deadline, via PalmerParkArtFair.com.