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JOCELYNN BROWN

Handmade: ‘Integrity Shows’ are marketed for success

Jocelynn Brown
The Detroit News

Have you ever attended a nearby art fair and discovered many of the items satisfied your personal taste for visual art? If so, chances are it didn’t happen by accident! It’s quite possible you were at one of many events around town produced by Integrity Shows, which creates art fairs based on specific tastes, depending on the location.

Detroiter Mark Loeb has spent nearly the past 20 years as the brainchild behind Integrity Shows, the name under which he produces such popular events as the Funky Ferndale Art Fair, the Palmer Park Art Fair, the Clay, Glass and Metal Show, and new this year – the Belle Isle Art Fair, and Adorn Detroit, held at Eastern Market.

“I used to do a lot more of the larger festivals as operations director, like the Detroit Festival of the Arts, the Detroit Jazz Festival, and Detroit Taste Fest, but now I’m mostly doing things that are directly related to the visual arts. I’m currently still operations manager for Noel Night, and New Center Park. I have an interesting life,” said the former clay and glass artist, who gave up pursuing his passion to devote more time to producing shows with the help of an individually subcontracted team for each project. “I’m able to get my creativity into these projects.”

Why the name Integrity Shows? “I felt like I needed to differentiate myself from some of the event people that were out there,” explained Loeb. “I feel like there are a lot of really good people in the business, and there are those who are not as clear, or direct, on what it is they’re doing. I try to be the good guy when I can.”

Integrity Shows are held either in Detroit, or within a few miles of the city in places such as Ferndale, Royal Oak, Wyandotte and Mount Clemens, and each is designed with particular festival-goers in mind. For instance, Loeb said, “Funky Ferndale is oriented to work that’s a little less conventional – that encourages discussion and doesn’t just sit there quietly on the wall. Palmer Park and Belle Isle focus on natural work and a lot of traditional work, (and) in Detroit, we also include Afrocentric work.

“I’m learning more every year,” Loeb added. “Each show is very specific to the location, the audience and the partners, or organization that we are working with. I would say the majority of people would never figure out that the same organization is producing all the different shows.”

Loeb also notes it’s important to consider prices when planning his “strictly juried” shows. “I know that at certain shows, different price points are more successful,” he said. “In two of the Detroit shows, we probably sell the most expensive items. At Belle Isle, it seemed like some of the artists with very expensive Afrocentric work did extremely well. And, then at Palmer Park, we just have so many affluent neighbors, who come out to support the event – it’s more of a boutique show. They have the budget to purchase art. It doesn’t take as many people, and it’s more appropriate for that area.”

Grosse Pointe Park resident Lynette Halalay of Knit Sew Fabulous, has done a number of Integrity Shows where she sold her wearable art. About the producers, she said, “They are very attentive to the artists – no questions are left unanswered. I do very well with sales. I break records with my sales.”

Detroit jewelry designer/artist Stephanie Whitfield of Salikas Jewels, who does the Funky Ferndale Art Fair every year, said, Mark “has a really good eye for choosing or selecting artists.” And, as a vendor at the Belle Isle Art Fair, she described the show as “absolutely amazing.”

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.

Contact Mark Loeb at mark@integrityshows.com, or visit integrityshows.com.