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July 19, 1978 - Image 31

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1978-07-19

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The Michigan Daily-Wednesday, July 19, 1978-Page 27
Ann Arbor's mood breeds art

I came from the suburbs of Detroit.
Despite my parents' attempts to
educate me in cultural matters, when I
arrived as a freshman six years ago I
didn't know Picasso from the
Pyramids. So imagine what a shock
Ann Arbor was, a small midwestern
city that virtually defied the stereotype
laid down in Sinclair Lewis novels, a
community awash in culture.
The Art Fair serves dramatic proof
each July on the rest of the state that
the arts flourish here. Like Vesuvius
each year, theentire community erupts
in a dazzling display of painting, sculp-
ture, jewelry, pottery, and dozens of
other arts and crafts.
But after the annual eruption sub-
sides, it would be a mistake to suppose
that the influence of the arts also
vanishes. Like a volcano, the rum-
blings continue substrata, and any
trained observer can detect the signs
of artistic activity.
Attempting to define how the artistic
influence pervades the community is
like trying to describe a shadow. The in-
fluence is elusive, and it shifts constan-
tly in response to weather conditions
and the people present.
Indexes of the community's sentivity
to the arts abound. The University's
Musical Society and Professional
Theater Program provide an array of
plays and concerts and the various film
societies insure a steady flow of popular
and classic films.
Contributing to the cultural
awareness are the professors, students
and professionals who reside here in
numbers highly disproportionate to a
city of this size. But the cultural in-
fluences don't begin and end with the
University. Because the community is
attractive, diverse and tolerant,
growing numbers of professional ar-
tists have chosen, in recent years, to
work and live in the area.
Local interest in the Artists and Craf-
tsmen Guild indicates thriving artistic
enthusiasm in the area. The Guild has
625 members who ply a variety of craf-
ts. A spokesperson for the group,
Celeste Melis, said, the Guild has a
waiting list of 800 non-students waiting
to join. Two years ago the Guild decided
to restrict membership to enable

students to exhibit their work in the
Festival. Melis said, "The Guild has
developed in quality, not in size."
Commenting on the national art
scene, Melis said the number of jobs
teaching art has dwindled along with
the reduction in the number of general
teaching positions. Therefore, artists
are banding together and selling their
wares to survive.
Involvement in the arts also extends
to heavily subscribed classes in
photography, dance, pottery, and other
arts and crafts whichaare offered by
both the University and private in-
dividuals. Almost everybody gets into
the act.
When the University placed a large
piece of modern sculpture, Daedulus, in
front of the Art Museum at the corner of
S. University and S. State, letters
streamed into local newspapers com-
menting on the newcomer. Opinion
was sharply divided; some people at-
tacked the piece as a rusty tin can more
suited to a junk yard than a campus.
Lovers of modern art professed to see
grace and form underneath the rust.
Another example is the prevalence of
murals. In other cities, blank rows of
bricks are the norm for building walls;
this city boasts numerous urban murals
to brighten the scene. A popular store
on S. University has futuristic panels
along its storefront. A store near the
Farmer's Market, and the Afro-
American Center across from the
School of Education also feature
Gallery art is also available to those
who wish to spend a pleasant weekend
afternoon browsing. The University's
Art Museum has a fine collection of
early prints and lithographs, often
augumented by traveling shows, or
works rotated out from the storage
For those in an acquisitive mood, the
Union Gallery presents the works of ar-
tists with both local and national
reputations, and its changing
exhibitions make it virtually an exten-
sion of the Univeristy Art Museum
across the street.
Downtown, at least one store,
displays the talents of craftsmen who
have formed a cooperative to sell their
works together. A more traditional

gallery is also located within the cen-
tral business district.
There is little mystery about why the
Art Fair has endured and thrived for
almost two decades in this artistically
aware community. In most Michigan
towns the event might have fizzled out
after the original proponents lost in-
terest or left town. But in Ann Arbor,
art enthusiasm merely peaks at fair
time and it's maintained by various
groups and institutions throughout the

Purists have not strongly objected to
the craftsy twist the fair has taken.
Therefore, the array of quality, prices,
and artists have permitted the fair to
retain an audience whose
heterogeneous interests can still be
met. The many-faceted fair is
educational for the novice, artist and
afficionado alike.
The annual Art Fair is an indication
of the artistic and intellectual wealth of
Ann Arbor which distinguishes it apart
from any midwestern city of its size.

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