Brochure of the 26th Annual Street Art Fair, 1985


Brochure of the 26th Annual Street Art Fair, 1985

Brochure of the 26th Annual Street Art Fair, 1985

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Ann Arbor District Library



How It All Began, A History of the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, 1985


How It All Began, A History of the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, 1985

How It All Began

Ann Arbor's oldest art fair began in the summer of 1960 with artists hanging their work on ropes and wire strung between parking meters. Colorful Japanese paper fish, donated by merchant Bruce Henry of Artisans on South University Avenue, flew gaily over the street as the town witnessed the birth of the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair.

The idea for the Fair was born when Artisans owner Bruce Henry approached the Ann Arbor Art Association, asking if they would put on an "arts and crafts market" to be held in conjunction with the merchants' Summer Bargain Days.

"I just thought that Ann Arbor would respect that type of thing and it would bring people to our street," Henry recalled.

Barbara Dorr was President of the Association at the time and is still involved in the Fair. She recalled that fellow board member Jean Paul Slusser, University of Michigan Professor of Art and Director of the University's Museum of Art, was skeptical.

"He said, 'No good artist will sit in the street,'" Mrs. Dorr remembered with a smile. "But my art teachers had always told me, 'Art is so neglected. If anybody asks you to do something, do it!'" And so a group of volunteers--merchants, educators, artists, craftspeople and other interested people--got together and pooled their talents to organize the first Fair.

"At first we simply canvassed all the artists and craftsmen in the state," recalled Esther Rainville, one of the original planners who still donates her time to the Fair. One thousand invitations to artists were sent out. Ninety-nine local artists and 33 artists from elsewhere in Michigan responded.

"Now we don't contact 1000 artists," Mrs. Rainville said. "1500 of them contact us."

"In that first Fair, potters put their pots down in the middle of the street," Henry said. "Painters hung their works on ropes strung between parking meters."

No one predicted then that the Fair would become a nationally known event drawing 400,000 people annually. With a smile, Henry remembered the words of one merchant during the early years of the Fair: "This thing is snowballing into a mushroom!"

The goal of the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair Board hasn't changed over the years. "We wanted and we still want to put before the public the work of good artists. We like to educate the people," said Esther Rainville.

One method of educating people has proved to be a very popular feature of the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair: demonstrations by the artists. This year, 21 individual artists plus the Ann Arbor Potters Guild will give fairgoers a peek at the creative process as they produce original artwork step-by-step in their booths.

Demonstrations have been a part of the Fair since its very beginning. "We have people who are good in a field and we have them demonstrating so people can see how things are done," said Mrs. Rainville. "If we just had people selling, the public wouldn't be learning."

The Other Ann Arbor Art Fairs

Art Fair Week in Ann Arbor is actually a coming together of three distinct art fairs: the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, the State Street Area Art Fair, and the Summer Arts Festival. The Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, which began in 1960, is the oldest and is the "original juried fair." The State Street Area Art Fair, which began in 1968, is a smaller, juried fair of some 165 artists sponsored by the State Street Area Association. The Summer Arts Festival takes place in two locations (Main Street and State Street), displaying the work of nearly 600 artists.

Each of the fairs has its own unique flavor and dedicated following, and the combined fairs present the work of close to 1000 artists during the four-day event. The three art fairs can be contacted at these addresses:

Ann Arbor Street Art Fair
P.O. Box 1352
Ann Arbor, MI 48106

Summer Arts Festival
Mich. Guild of Artists & Artisans
118 N. Fourth Ave.
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

State Street Area Art Fair
P.O. Box 4128
Ann Arbor, MI 48106

Originally published with the 1985 Street Art Fair brochure.

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Ann Arbor District Library



 

Fine Cameras and How They Are Made

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The Argus C-Four takes center stage in this promotional video for Argus Cameras. The narrator intones, "It takes three things to make a fine camera . . ." and with that launches into a highly technical and detailed description of every step in the camera-manufacturing process at Argus Cameras of Ann Arbor. Scenes of the scientists and craftsmen creating the Argus C-Four are interwoven with scenes of customers using the camera to take family photos and outdoor shots. The easy-to-use, lightweight Argus cameras revolutionized photography, essentially creating "popular photography." Enjoy this pre-Mad Men video, visit AADL's Argus Camera online exhibit and take a walk over to the Argus Museum for even more Argus history.

27:09 min. c.1953

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Argus Museum
 

Argus Eyes for Victory

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It is hard to overstate the breadth and speed of the transition to defense manufacturing that occurred in the United States during World War II. America went from building cars to tanks, farm equipment to bazookas, three-piece suits to combat uniforms. Locally, companies like American Broach, Ford Motor and Killins Gravel took on defense contracts and hired thousands of workers to support the "Arsenal of Democracy" that was Michigan in the 1940s. Argus Camera had a unique role, inventing and manufacturing new optical equipment that sighted guns, photographed enemy installations and recorded the war. Argus became one of the largest employers in Washtenaw County, bringing an unprecedented number of women into the skilled labor force and creating a social fabric within the company and the community that would last for generations. This video, produced after World War II, recounts the "miracle of production" that earned Argus several E Awards for excellence in design and manufacture of war-related materiel. The video captures the post-war economic optimism while paying tribute to the soldiers, inventors and labor that became known as the Greatest Generation. Visit AADL's Argus Camera online exhibit or take a walk over to the Argus Museum for even more Argus history.

19:11 min.
c. 1945

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Argus Museum

Argus Argoflex Model E Instruction Book

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Publisher: Argus Cameras, Inc.

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Argus SLR Instruction Manual

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Publisher: Argus Cameras, Inc.

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