Isn’t that just like Detroit? It cannot have a regular art fair…no, sir. It has to reinvent the event with huge art installations, metal-casting demonstrations, a profound Detroit diva performing and a pop-up martini bar.
That’s Detroit – a place where participation is mandatory, people are undeniably friendly and you never quite know what will happen.
Well, this much we do know. The Palmer Park Art Fair will take place May 3 and 4 at this beloved and venerable Detroit neighborhood. It is the only large juried art fair in the city. It will have an estimated 50 artists from Detroit, the state, the nation and around the world in attendance. And it will have creativity oozing out of every corner.
“Palmer Park is once again becoming one of Detroit’s premier sites,” said Festival Designer Mark Loeb. “Wooded trails, a lake, fields and courts for most every kind of sport. It was only natural to locate an art fair at this park.”
Some background: Palmer Park hasn’t had an art fair for decades now, so this is a return to a great tradition. Loeb is helping organize it as president of Detroit-based Integrity Events, where he has been producing successful events since 1982.
You can watch art being made – there will be demos of murals, painting, glass making. There will be opportunities to make your own works with the family-art tend, staffed by the Detroit Institute of Arts and Arts & Scraps. There also will be live music and food carts mixed in there for good measure. Trust me, there will be much to see, hear, taste and buy.
“Artists from across the country were excited to come back to Detroit and join in the resurgence. We had no problems filling the space with great art,” Loeb said.
But the one thing you won’t see is rows and rows of tents. Other cities might think that’s how you view art, as if carefully controlled environments provide the right canvas. Nope, Palmer Park places the artists among the trees and around the ponds, giving the art its rightful place among the wilds of nature.
“We are working to rewrite the rules of art fairs. Tents spread along the side of the lake. Demonstrations and hands on activities. Surprising foods and drink. It’s a fair that celebrates the green side of Detroit,” Loeb said.
It only seems right to do so because Palmer Park is exactly as its name describes – a park. There are wooded trails. There are orchards. There are, as organziers put it, some 300 acres of surprises to be enjoyed. And, yes, there is room for lush, green lawns and homes in Detroit.
There will be Michigan authenticity in every area – people who have grown up here and produced everything with their own hands. That might be produce. It might be beer. It could be pizza. Maybe it’s a piece of street art.
“This is a more casual art fair,” Loeb said. “One where it is comfortable to take a few moments to speak with the artists, where families can work together on creating art. We feature demonstrations so that people can see the skill level involved in creating fine artwork.”
If you want a chance to be more up close and personal with the artists and their works, they’ve got that prepped as well. There is the Palmer Park Art Fair Gala at 7 p.m. Saturday evening. This ticketed gala, which will include drinks and food, will help fund future events. And don’t forget a performance by Detroit’s “Queen of the Blues,” Thornetta Davis.
A little about Palmer Park and the Art Fair’s co-sponsor, the People for Palmer Park. Palmer Park is made up of 296 acres of lawns and historic woodlands, a public golf course, tennis courts, outdoor pool, hiking and biking trails, Lake Frances, a historic log cabin and more. Located between 6 and 7 Mile Roads and west of Woodward Avenue in Detroit, it has been a treasured nature park and recreation site for more than 100 years, according to its website.
People for Palmer Park (PFPP) is an organization committed to the preservation, reinvention, and revitalization of Palmer Park, for the good of all. “Our vision is to create an urban oasis, regional destination, and daily recreation site that will promote an active and healthy community,” its website states.
Admission is free to both days of events. The Palmer Park Art Fair starts at 10 a.m. and runs through 6 p.m. Saturday, May 3. It begins again at noon Sunday and ends that 5 p.m. that day.