Handmade: Palmer Park Art Fair caters to its artists

Jocelynn Brown
The Detroit News
Art by Ron Scarbough

Artists have always been represented by all age groups, yet over time not all continue to have the stamina to participate in art fairs, or maybe they were never afforded the opportunity for one reason or another.

That's why Mark Loeb, who's spent the past two decades producing Integrity Shows (Funky Ferndale Art Fair, the Belle Isle Art Fair, etc.) in and around the Detroit-area, invites all artists to apply to be a vendor at this year's Palmer Park Art Fair, set for June 1 and 2. Loeb, who lives in Detroit, brought the juried show back six years ago, "after it had been gone for close to 30 years."

He said, "There will be a total of about 60 artists who will have their own space. Then, there are different groups we will work with, that either don't have the equipment, don't have enough art to sell, or they're not able to set up their own tents anymore. As some of the artists get older, they can't do the art fairs in the same traditional way."

Ron Scarbough

Lifelong artist Ronald Scarbough of Detroit, who specializes in fine drawing in graphite and colored pencil, was a vendor at the first Palmer Park Art Fair, held back in the 70's. "Artists don't retire," he said, so when the show made a comeback six years ago, he was there selling his finely detailed illustrations. He's done "at least four" and plans to be there again this year with the help of a driver. 

Scarbough, who did the 2016 poster for the Palmer Park Art Fair, said, "I'm 73 now, and I don't drive or have any help, so Mark has made provisions for me to share a tent with another artist that they've set up already," he said. "It works for me because I don't have to bring my set-up. "Mark puts a lot of time and effort into his shows, and he doesn't leave anything to chance. He's very accommodating and great to deal with." 

But unlike Scarbough, some older individuals, who may have only dabbled in art in the past, are emerging as artists as a second career, and may need assistance for setting up their tent and display at shows.

Mark Loeb

"One of the interesting things to me is that a lot of new artists are in their 50's, 60's and 70's because they're leaving careers and returning to their roots," stated Loeb. "They're coming back. It's kind of a cool thing when you think of emerging artists. You might just be thinking of people in their 20's, but there are emerging artists in most every age (group)."

Comparing the Palmer Park Art Fair to other Integrity Shows, Loeb describes it as a "boutique art fair because it's more intimate." 

He said, "It probably has more of the larger pieces of art than a lot of other shows because we're surrounded on three sides by people with larger homes. So, artists who do larger paintings, for example, are able to be more successful because those who come to the show have large homes and are able to fit a large painting."

New to this year's show will be the "Book Tent," with 10 authors selling their books and giving readings, along with a host of art guilds displaying, selling and demonstrating their work and offering show-goers hands-on activities. Among them will be the Michigan Silversmiths Guild. "Patrons can watch demos and make their own bracelet." 

And, returning this year will be the Mint Artists Guild, a teen arts business program, featuring the work of 10 Detroit-area teens for sale; a tent for emerging artists of all ages as part of the Detroit Fine Arts Breakfast Club; the work of artists in residence inside the park's log cabin; and 10 vendors from Foodlab, which helps start individual food businesses. 

In past years, the show has been held in May, but then inclement weather became an issue, "so the People for Palmer Park wanted to move it to June," informed Loeb.

Palmer Park, comprised of 296 acres, is at 910 Merrill Plaisance in Detroit. Hours for the upcoming art fair are 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Sat., and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sun. Admission and parking are free. 

Persons interested in being a vendor at the 2019 Palmer Park Art Fair should visit palmerparkartfair.com. The application fee is $25, and the deadline is Feb. 28. Loeb said, those accepted will be notified within a week. 

Detroit News columnist Jocelynn Brown is a longtime Metro Detroit crafter. You can reach her at (313) 222-2150, jbrown@detroitnews.com or facebook.com/DetroitNewsHandmade.