As I mentioned in my last post about the Historic Ohio State Reformatory, Brad and I drove down to Columbus last weekend for the Columbus Art Fair.
I went to my first art fair 3 years ago now, with my friend Janice, who was nice enough to let me tag along to the 2010 Ann Arbor Art Fair with her and her two friends, Lindsey and Rachel. I remember it was disgustingly hot and humid that day, the kind of day that makes you wonder why you bothered to do your makeup because within an hour it’s all melted away and you end up with your hair pulled back because of the unmanageable frizz that has turned your sleek hair into an afro. Fortunately the three of them had been to the Ann Arbor Art Fair before, so they knew all the great places to stop, which kept us from too much aimless wandering in the sweltering heat, especially since the Ann Arbor Art Fair is huge. It actually consists of 4 art fairs in one: Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, the Original, State Street Area Art Fair, The Guild’s Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair, and Ann Arbor’s South University Art Fair.
|Ann Arbor Art Fair Street Performer 2011|
Since that year with Janice I’ve returned to the Ann Arbor Art Fair annually with Brad. It’s a great cheap date since it’s free to walk from booth to booth and check out the art. I particularly like the photography booths, especially the exotic landscapes. Scattered amongst the art booths you will find all sorts of entertainment from food vendors to caricature artists. There are street performers as well as stages with different things going on; you can even stop at a free “art activity zone” which seem to be geared toward children, but says all ages.
I had expected to find these same things at the Columbus Art Fair and for the most part I would say that we did. The Columbus Art Fair is set up in a circle down near the river, crossing over one bridge and returning on another less than a half mile away. There was a nice selection of art to look at, but I’d say the majority of our walk was passing by food vendors, which was kind of disappointing (although we did end up with some amazing gyros.) We walked the entire thing and only saw one street performer; a man painted silver and dressed as a pirate. There were several caricature artists, and for some live art, there was one stage with poetry being read when we passed by. I think it took us less than 3 hours to wander around the entire thing, and that time included walking to and from the fair, walking from our hotel, and resting to eat our gyros. The Columbus Art Fair seemed overly crowded (I’m guessing from being too small) and there were many more beer and wine vendors than there were restrooms, which in my opinion is an obvious problem. The art fair certainly didn’t warrant a trip to Columbus, even if that trip had been shortened to the amount of time it takes to get to Ann Arbor.
What I really like about the Ann Arbor Art Fair is the way it winds through the streets of downtown as well as part of the University of Michigan’s campus. Without knowing what to expect, I assumed the Columbus Art Fair would be similarly placed, giving us a chance to check out downtown Columbus. It was the Ann Arbor Art Fair that got Brad and I to start frequenting Ann Arbor for more than just football games and the art fair itself. While walking the streets of white-tented art booths you find yourself among many local restaurants and shops. The Columbus Art Fair is strategically placed to sit mostly on bridges and although it gives a nice view of the river, offers little else, leaving no reason for return until next year’s art fair.
|Inside Nickel's Arcade|
I honestly love going to the Ann Arbor Art Fair. Brad and I usually make our way there around noon and walk until we’re exhausted. Then we sit in the grassy shade on UM’s campus and watch the people passing by, often letting an “aww” escape my lips when I see anyone with a dog. Sometime during the day we pick a local restaurant to eat at: The Jolly Pumpkin, Arbor Brewing Co. and even finding an amazing vegan restaurant once, Seva. We like to stop in some of the shops, especially down Nickel’s Arcade, a brick alleyway lined with storefront, lighted by white globes hanging from a high-pitched skylight above. During the art fair you have to push your way through a sea of people at Nickel’s Arcade, especially if there is rain.
Another alley I like to look for is an actual alley where the walls are cover in graffiti, and even though I’ve been to the Ann Arbor Art Fair 3 years now, I still have trouble finding it. However, when we do stumble across it I always like to take a minute to view the new graffiti from over the past year. Don’t worry too much if you can’t find the graffiti alley, because more than likely you’ll find at least one picture of it amongst the art booths.
The last thing I do before leaving Ann Arbor is asked Brad to stop with me at The Cupcake Station. They bake amazing specialty cupcakes and I always indulge myself, but mostly I go to pick up a “pupcake” to take home to my puppy, Maggie. I swear she waits all year for the Ann Arbor Art Fair too, even though it means a day at home alone. She loves those cupcakes!
|Maggie trying to get her pupcake|
You can check out this year’s