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July 21, 1971 - Image 6

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1971-07-21

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Page Two-S

DAILY STREET ART FAIR SUPPLEMENT

Wedne-day, July 21, 1971

Art fair: A summer experience

By LARRY ADELSON
As far as local color goes,
the Midwest tends to be rather
monochromatic. The Indian cul-
turts did not survive long enough
to establish themselves as part
of our culture, there was no
slave culture worth speaking of,
there was no bustling interna-
tional port to give it that mari-
time flavor, and no stunning
natural formations of flora.
There is just not much to put
on postcards in the midwest.
The only thing that we do have
is fairs. State fairs, county fairs,
city and township fairs, with
carnivals and contests and the
biggest pumpkin and the best
cherry pie. And now we have
art fairs; which have for some
reason caught on. They don't
differ so much from their coun-
try counterparts. In each, it is
the festival that counts, the
bringing together of people
around an event which is so
large and amorphous that it
doesn't need people's attention,
just people to make it move.
The idea for the local art fair
was originally the inspiration
of a Mr. Carmen, the owner of
a State Street shoe store, who
approached the Ann Arbor Art
Association with the idea in the
summer of 1959. It was felt that
there was not enough time to
organize the event for that
summer, but the idea stuck and
in 1960 the local Chamber of
Commerce and the South Uni-
versity Merchants Association

approached the Art Association
earlier on in the year. and the
Ann Arbor Street Art Fair was
born.
Ninety-eight artists displayed
their work on wires strung be-
tween parking meters on S. Uni-
versity. The art sold, the pres-
ence of the fair attracted peo-
ple to the summer sales on
South University and helped the
merchants to build a good image
for their street, and everyone
had a good time. The success of
the fair as a marketplace for ob-
jects d'art brought increasing
numbers of artists to the fair.
The business men poured more
time into organizing and publi-
rizing the event, and display
booths were added and refined
over the years.
The association between the
businessmen and the artists has
stuck through the years, offer-
ing a rare example of symbiosis
between the two, with both prof-
iting and neither pushing the
other around. The businessmen
provide between a third and a
half of the fair's operating budg-
et (the fees that the artists pay
provide most of the rest with the
Ann Arbor Art Association also
giving an annual contribution)
and organizing set-up of the
fair and publicity. The fair at-
tracts business for the sales that
move summer stock and pro-
vides a distraction from the nor-
mal, and rather slow summer
routine,
Somewhere along the line,
someone had the idea of decor-

ating the fair with paper Japa-
nese fish. The custom (regret-
tably> has failed to persist, but
it did provide the fair with its
symbol, those selfsame fish
wvhich appear (rather enigmat-
ically now) in all of the pub-
licity. For the fair the fish
wrie supposed to have prettied
up the plainess of the fair
booths. This year the fair or-
ganizers hope to clear some
money (gotten from a cut of
the art sales) which can be put
back into some more attractive
and more functional structures.
The present ones, in addition to
being ugly, have the disturbing
habit of collecting vast quanti-
ties of water in their plastic
roofs during the inevitable rain-
storms. Water which threatens
to deluge both the works of art
and the spectator who has tak-
en refuge in the booth.
As long as the town is attuned
to the fine arts for at least four
days it seems wise to alert the
reader to some of the other op-
portunities that the city af-
fords for aesthetic delight. The
reviewer also finds himself in
the rare position of feeling some
attention will be paid to his as-
tute comments on the art world.
The University Museum of
Art (the Neo-classical mauso-
leum on the corner of South
University and State Streets) is
showing, in addition to selec-
tions from their permanent col-
lection, graphics by the artist
Antoni Tapies. Tapies is not a
major figure in contemporary

_.4

u-m art faculty
Andrews-Cassara-Cheng-Heers-LaMore-Lewis-McClare-Ramsay-Wit
forsythe gallery
201 nickels arcade tues. to fri. 10 to 5, sat. 10 to 1

art, but he is, beyond being
skilled, interesting and his
graphic images are personal
enough tin the sense of not be-
ing simply variations on a
cliched image which rests on its
being recognized as art rather
than trying to evoke or express
in a unique way) to be worth a
visit. The major appeal of these
prints is Tapies' offbeat sense of
composition. He has a flair for
the eccentric--the slightly off-
balance - which carries his
prints away from the pitfall of
the pleasant but pat array which
reduces so many abstract graph-
ics to decorations rather than
works of art. It is impressive to
note his flirtation with such
compositions in some of his ear-
lier works and the relentless
turning away from such work
in the prints which follow. The
awkwardness of Tapies is not
unlike the ballet of Buster Kea-
ton for in both cases the clum-
siness is always as purposive and
controlles as grace and has the
advantage of standing apart
from the mainstream of beauty
and therefore the ability to add
something to the beautiful.

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Judlo Gallery 4f1205 S. Uni-
versity) is continuing its course
of displaying native and primi-
tive art with an exhibition of
artifacts from Africa, Australia,
New Guinea, and Pre-Colombian
South America. On the aesthetic
side, the exhibition is rather
thin and does not do justice to
the cultures which can produce
objects of devastating power
and beauty. This exhibition
does, however, have the advan-
tage of having the collector,
Jim Bennett, along to give the
viewer an idea of the role played
by the objects in the lives of
the peoples who produced them.
This is information usually not
provided in such shows and the
role is so different from that
with which we are familiar as to
be as interesting in its own
right as the objects are in theirs.
Forsythe Gallery (in Nickels
Arcade, off State St.) is showing
works by University faculty
members. As usual with faculty
shows, the work tends to the
nice but lacking the assertive-
ness that it needs to make it
hold your attention for more
than the passing view. This par-
ticular edition of the faculty
show, however, holds a couple of
treats for the interested observ-
er. Two of the artists here
(Richard Wilt and Ted Ram-
sey) have over the past year or
so shown works which have a
genuine and serious inventive-
ness to them. Wilt, who still has
a tendency to slip back into
rather sweet images with syr-
upy colors, has also been work-
ing with a series of haunting
images of Classical statuary
done in single, subdued tones
and textured, probably by press-
ing crumpled cloth on the sur-
face of the still-wet painting.
See BROWSING, Page 9
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