OT: Ann Arbor Art Fair

Submitted by Kal on July 21st, 2010 at 8:49 PM

Does anyone else find this to be a fair of useless crap? I mean some of the stuff is cool to a certain degree, but the fact that it encompasses so much of downtown Ann Arbor and most of the stuff is ridiculously overpriced kind of annoys me. Thoughts?



July 21st, 2010 at 11:50 PM ^

One from Pozzobonelli (underneath the maynard parking structure) he does italian relief art (I guess that's what I'd call it).  It's basically sculptures that hang up that look like old italian things.  It feels like rocks and what not.  Love his stuff I just wish I could afford the real cool wall size pieces. 


I also really enjoy the psychodelic painting guy who uses very vibrant colors. 


But I agree that most of the "art" is crap.  All of the jewelry is bs.  Most photography is bs.  There is no way in hell that I'm going to pay a lot of money for a photograph that I could take myself.  Hell I'd rather spend the money to go to that place and take the picture there.  Photography is crap because I can do it.  I enjoy art that I think is beautiful and done well and is something that I know that I could never do. 


July 22nd, 2010 at 12:22 AM ^

It's right up there with the "I hate Football Saturdays" crew, and the "man, I love Ann Arbor, except for the college kids and University" people.  If you really don't like Art Fair, and all that other stuff Ann Arbor brings to it...don't live here. I mean, if you work here, but hate all that comes with it...there are nice places with short commutes in Dexter and Saline and such. Yeah, dumb out of towner and crappy traffic aren't fun...but neither are opposing fans and students peeing on your lawn.  But it comes with the territory.  And the fun of a vibrant small city, with major world class sporting events, and the exciting youth (with intelligence) that the students brings 8-9 months of the year are what make Ann Arbor GREAT.  Not a pain.

But as for Art Fair specifically...yeah, the Art is out of the price range of most (me included) mostly.  But that's Art...if you're finding the bargain basement Fair, it's probably not really an Art Fair. It doesn't help the business as much as you would think, for some of the mentioned reasons. That's why the South U. Association kicked out the original Art Fair for their own...to make more profit. It probably was more charming "back in the day"...because it started when my Mom was in school, and a bunch of the Art students just held an Art Fair to show and sell their art on East U. in front of the quad.

And if you can think of none of the above reasons in other posts to like it, might I point out the missing point to people watching- one of the few events in Ann Arbor that is mostly women, from all over, dressed for the 90+ degree heat.  Yeah, that has it's ups and downs...but it's a better percentage than you get at a Football Game.


July 22nd, 2010 at 4:29 AM ^

it may be slightly interesting for about a day ...

but its way to long, and basically overuns campus as we close in on the start of hard core studying for summer term exams which isnt so much fun 

plus to me it is sorta like hash bash ... it just gives townies and hippies a reason to overun campus

and this is coming from a kid who likes art to be honest


July 22nd, 2010 at 11:43 AM ^

....all the reasons for students to overrun town...?  Move in/Move out weekends, activities...etc. Frankly, give me an Art Fair patron taking the bus in vs. an out of state parent trying to figure out Ann Arbor traffic directions.

Just saying...as someone who has been on both sides, that attitude kinda has the student arrogance that helps create the conflicts in the first place.


July 22nd, 2010 at 2:38 PM ^

I'm with you on Hash Bash - that event is about 30 years past its heyday (especially given the age of most of the attendees).  It crowds and dirties up the campus on a key spring weekend during the school year, and frankly brings an unsavory element to town.  But I like the Art Fair.  It's during the summer, when most of the students are gone anyway, and I don't think it attracts that bad a crowd.  I think the city does a pretty good job keeping things tidy and functional through it all.


July 22nd, 2010 at 7:51 AM ^

Last summer I had to commute to AA to work at UMMA. Art Fair week was hell between the lack of parking, lots of traffic, and no one went to the museum because of the arts and crafts outside so it was slow as hell.

Still in AA

July 22nd, 2010 at 8:29 AM ^

I like the art fair but going once every 3-4 years is all I need.  A lot of the stuff is the same year after year. 

The only thing that really bothers me about the art fair, and maybe I'm wrong for feeling this way, are the people selling unframed photos for over $50.  You have a crate sitting there with 80 copies of the same photo and I know that it didn't cost you anywhere near $50 to make each copy.  If anyone out there is a professional photographer, please give me your thoughts as to why the high price is justified.

Sgt. Wolverine

July 22nd, 2010 at 2:58 PM ^

is your considering only the cost of printing as the method of setting a price.  That's a common mistake, and believe me, it's exasperating for any professional photographer to hear comments like that.  The cost of printing (obviously) is a consideration, but it's far from the only one:

 - Remember that professional photographers have thousands of dollars invested in equipment.  I'll carry as much as $3k worth of gear on a shoot, and I'm on the low end of the pro spectrum; serious nature photographers might carry $10k-$20k on a shoot.  Serious wedding photographers can carry just as much.  So can serious sports photographers.  High-end camera gear is expensive.

 - Also remember that pros have spent a great deal of time learning and improving their craft.  Just as you're paying for an electrician's education, skill and experience (in addition to his time) when you hire him, so you're paying for a photographer's education, skill and experience when you buy his photograph.  A lot of people think it's the easiest thing in the world to hold up a camera and snap a top-quality photography -- a myth the camera companies work hard to sell -- but it's not that easy.  You can hold up a camera and take a decent image, but you're not going to match the output of a skilled and knowledgeble photographer.

 - Also remember that you're also paying for the time and money the photographer invested to get to where he could take the photograph.  For nature shots (which is mostly what you'll find at art fairs), photographers often not just travel around the country, but also spend a lot of time finding the best vantage points -- which typically aren't right next to a parking lot.  And if you're planning to get wildlife in your shot, it'll require even more patience and effort because wild animals are neither predictable nor cooperative.

 - And finally, remember that it takes time and money to travel to art fairs like the AAAF to sell photos.

In other words, serious photographers don't just walk out to their back yards and use $200 point and shoot cameras and print a $10 poster at CVS to produce the images they're selling at art fairs.  If you consider only cost of printing when you gauge the photograph, you're selling the pros way too short.  I do agree $50 isn't an insignificant price for a photo, but you can't assume the photographer set a ridiculous price to gouge customers and make a sickening profit.  Good photographers are also good businessmen and women, and they (generally) set their prices at a level that affords them not an obscene profit, but a profit sufficient to allow them to earn a reasonable living -- just like any other business.

Still in AA

July 22nd, 2010 at 3:51 PM ^

I realize they have to make a profit, and they probably aren't living large by any means, but with such a low cost to reproduce the photos, it seems to me they'd be better off selling more for less.  Then again, I'm sure they know their business a lot better than I do.

Sgt. Wolverine

July 22nd, 2010 at 6:08 PM ^

you're not going to get that sort of quantity.  Fine art prints aren't like greeting cards.

You seem to be fixated on the reproduction cost, so consider this: if you sell two prints at $50 each and the cost to print each (just a totally made-up number) is $5, you've made $90 after printing.  If you sell five prints at $20 each with the same repro cost, you've grossed the same ($100) but made $75 after printing; if you sell five prints but have a lower repro cost of $4 due to volume, you've still made only $80 after printing.  It doesn't make sense to drop your prices unless you know you're going make enough extra sales to gross enough to make more than you would have with the higher prices.  Fine art is a relatively low-volume market with customers who expect relatively high prices -- or, put more positively, customers who place a higher value on the product -- so it makes more sense not to go bargain-basement with prices.


July 22nd, 2010 at 8:39 AM ^

I live and work right downtown.  The crowds can be annoying but all-in-all I have to say that Art Fair is a fun time of year.  It makes for great people watching at the very least. 

We've created a drinking game for art fair.  Whenever you see someone wearing socks and sandals take a drink.  If you see someone with "Art on a stick" take a drink.  Fanny packs=drink.  If you see a combo of any two of those options you have to finish your drink.  Enjoy.

Sgt. Wolverine

July 22nd, 2010 at 10:27 AM ^

I've been going to Chelsea's demo derby as long as I can remember, and it still amazes me how many people I see there that I never ever see anywhere else the rest of the year.  Sometimes I wonder if there are people who exist only a couple days a year.

For the Chelsea demo derby, you should also throw in a rule for when you see somebody wearing a Stiver's shirt -- on the back, they say "Get Stiverized!".


July 22nd, 2010 at 2:42 PM ^

I cant get there till saturday, and from all of your posts thus far, you're going to get everything I'm going in looking for! If they run out, I'll blame you!

Stops at underground, Moe's, MDen... are you me 2 days in the future?