Ann Arbor Art Fair brings out thousands

Kalea Hall
The Detroit News

Ann Arbor — Hundreds of thousands flocked to Ann Arbor in search of the perfect pair of earrings, unique paintings and funky finds at the annual Art Fair that was back at full-scale this year. 

White tents lined roadways with State Street at the center of the bustle on Saturday. This art fair is one of three that’s nationally recognized and award-winning. Artisans from across the country come here over the three-day period to show and sell art.

“We come every year,” said Jennifer Greenman of Fort Wayne, Indiana, who was sitting with her mother, Anita Ellert, also of Fort Wayne.  “We like to look at all the different pieces of art.”

People walk along State Street and look at art during the Ann Arbor Art Fair on Friday, July 22, 2022.

The mother-daughter duo took a tour bus from Fort Wayne to enjoy a day at the Art Fair on Saturday. They picked up some fun fashion earrings and were off to look for more.

“We love all the unique jewelry here … stuff you can’t get anywhere else,” Greeman said.

Greg and Madalon Blaszczyk of Romeo came down to see Chicago-based artist Francisco Marin's fine art booth. They know Marin and were taken by his photo art, especially his “Double Happiness” yellow and orange print that they decided to purchase on Saturday. 

"The colors are stunning," Madalon said. 

Michigan-based artist Lora Garcelon of Howell has been coming to the fair to sell her paintings for four years, but she also likes to come to see what other painters are showing.

"The quality of the art here is extremely good," she said. "There's a lot of very good painters and since I'm a painter I like to look at other painters."

Garcelon's paintings are inspired by life, she says, and feature ballerinas, cats and wildlife.

"Everything I paint is something I've experienced," she said. "Something I've seen."

Lora Garcelon of Howell, one of the Ann Arbor Art Fair artists, paints on both paper and canvas using watercolor and acrylic paints. She paints scenes from everyday life, often people and animals.

She met her sales goal this year despite inflation pushing consumers to curb some spending. 

"I think a lot of people are happy to be shopping at an art fair again," she said. 

Jewelry artist Terry Ross from New York who makes modern, statement jewelry that's often inspired by flowers was excited to come to this year's fair after debuting here last year, but sales weren't great for her and she's not planning to make a return in 2023. 

Terry Ross was one of the jewelry artists at this year's Ann Arbor Art Fair.

"I did really well last year," she said. "This year, it's very, very slow, I'd hate to say it. I think last year everyone was excited about getting out. They had their stimulus checks, they were ready to buy. This year I think people are a lot more cautious."

But Kate Seiler, another jewelry artist from Ann Arbor, did well this year with sales of her North Croft gemstone necklaces, earrings and bracelets. This is her second year coming after making her Art Fair debut in 2019 and this year has been "a lot better."

"I don't know if people are just ready to spend money because they haven't able to come to Art Fair for a few years," she said. 

Seiler grew up going to the Art Fair and knew she wanted to sell her jewelry here one day. 

Kate and Andy Seiler of Ann Arbor at their North Croft Studio jewelry booth at the city's annual Art Fair this weekend.

"I always thought it would be cool to do Art Fair," she said. "That was always kind of my goal. It's just really fun. We love the other artists .. It's a sense of camaraderie. We all are in it together."