Fair v. Fair

It’s been quite the arty week around here in Ypsi-Arbor. Annette and Will and I took in a bit of the annual Ann Arbor Art Fairs on Thursday, and on Saturday night, we went to that Ypsilanti upstart, the Shadow Art Fair. To be fair to the folks in that quaint festival in Ann Arbor, they had some automatic negatives compared to the most excellent festival in Ypsilanti, some beyond their control. The Ann Arbor Art Fair was both steaming hot and outdoors, while the Shadow Art Fair was both temperate and indoors at the Corner Brewery. The Ann Arbor Art Fair is kind of pain in the butt with all of the crowds, getting there in the first place, etc. While the Shadow Art Fair was crowded, it wasn’t near as mob-oriented as the Ann Arbor Art Fair. And while the Ann Arbor Art Fair offered bottled water, the Shadow Art Fair featured beer– well, not free, but since it was indoors and at what amounts to a large bar, easily available.

But the biggest difference between the two events was that the Shadow Art Fair was both very cool and actually affordable. The Ann Arbor Art Fair is about art as a product, a commodity. That means simple things on a stick, on paintings or prints to put above a couch, or “conversation pieces” that go in wealthy peoples’ homes. The Shadow Art Fair is about the process of art, about the making and experience, about DIY. And, I don’t know, the Shadow Art Fair just had a lot more coolness to it.

A couple of short videos to show what I mean. First, here’s Will picking out an intestine button from a large monster (for the cost of $1):

And then there’s this video of folks answering the artistic question of what’s inside the Ypsilanti Water Tower:

I assume he didn’t recognize me (why would he?), but I saw Mark Maynard peddling his wares. I was tempted by a Drew Barrymore poster he made (one of several Drew Barrymore tributes), but I passed. Instead, I ended up with a lovely Ypsilanti t-shirt and very groovy Shadow Art Fair poster, both products of those talented VG Kids. It’s hard to explain, but the poster I bought features an alternate version of the Shadow Art Fair poster on one side and part of a printing of a poster for Twangfest in St. Louis, MO. And Annette and Will both bought some cool woodprints that are liable to show up in our dining room soon.

Anyway, an exciting and arty week for all. But if you can only pick one art festival to attend next year, make it the Shadow Art Fair, please.

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