Sunday, July 19, 2015

Stephen Spreads the Wealth, Chris R-A Shares Very Brave Dog Tales (Art Fair, cont.)

It has been statistically proven that the average art loving person has a one in four chance of chatting with Stephen Kerr* at the Ann Arbor Art Fair**; once engaged in conversation, there's a one in one chance that he will offer suggestions/directives of artists to see and also inquire after any good leads. Thus, I was on the lookout on Art Fair Day 1, but we didn't cross paths until I walked into the Yourist Gallery booth on South U. at the end of the day.

*Six-years retired art teacher to legions of high schoolers and (former) 3rd-6th graders; 2nd (if not 3rd) generation optimist; printmaker, ceramicist, art collector, cultural roustabout and stirrer-of-pots. 

**based on study by the University of Michigan, naturally. How is "average" determined for a cultured individual? So many factors, it gets complicated fast. Just ask them.

Stephen was busy in conversation with Detroit mug ceramicist Centurium Frost (cool short video of his work on Fox News), but hailed me over. This was Centurium's first representation at this show and he looked a bit overwhelmed; however, browser attention seemed steady for his work, and for that of the booth at large. He told me the next day that he was also busy adding details to other pieces, at either end of the fair day, in order to supplement inventory. "It's hard to be all things to all people!"...or something along those lines. Hopefully he had a successful first AA Art Fair.

But on Wednesday, it was time to trade names. "Kent Ambler!" I told Stephen at the same time he whipped out the printmaker's business card. So, we were on the same page, there. "Nancy Gardner, her work is always beautiful," said Stephen, "Chris Bruno! He has this great horse, I took a picture. He's all self taught. Step into the shade, I'll show you." We hovered in the shade of the neighboring tent, until we were in the path of the artist/space owner: "Coming through~~"

courtesy of Stephen Kerr
"Have you seen this couple? They've dressed identically for over 20 years, they design most of their own clothes. The hats they're wearing they designed for the Guggenheim. Even what they carry in their bags is identical. I asked if I could give them my business card and they asked if I had two. It's all about breaking down barriers."

Jesse and Ricardo (last names not used) collectively go by "Art in Tandem," they travel worldwide and welcome interaction with strangers. Get more acquainted with them on DailyKOS (includes short video interview) and through the Erie Reader (their hometown).

If the photo background looks familiar, it's because you've probably been in Peaceable Kingdom a million times by now. It's one of Ann Arbor's best browse-about art/folk art/jewelry/tchotchke boutique shops with the added bonus of fairy doors and occasional Russell terriers clicking their nails over the hard wood floors. Jesse and Ricardo were attending Thursday night's meet and greet with Michigan's own textile artist Chris Roberts-Antieau.
at Peaceable Kingdom, S. Kerr

You're probably already well aware of Roberts-Antieau's grooviness (as is Oprah, Time magazine, which called her work "Joy and a Bit of Scary" in 2013; Huffington Post, which deemed it "bright, ingenious and downright [Maira] Kalman-esque"). See also the opening documentary sequence about her (subtitled "A Love Letter to Tom Waits"). I attended another Ann Arbor pop-up event of her's a few years ago and posted photos then.

But what fuels her work? Why not go to the source? Hopefully you can read below. It will make your day better, trust me. This is excerpted from a warm, inspirational artist hand-out at the event, urging us not to give up on our own dreams ("You need that," said Stephen as he walked past me, and I couldn't tell whether that was a "You who-obviously-have-an-overactive-internal-critic need that" or "You, being human, need that," but he was right either way):

Hopefully you can read above? Artist connection with PK
Obviously, these images will not do. Visit official website, or google...

The bad news is I missed "Art in Tandem" by going later, and worse news is that you may have missed the Meet and Greet entirely and Roberts-Antieau has probably flown home to her gallery in New Orleans by now. The Great news is that Peaceable Kingdom is featuring a lot more of C R-A's work than they normally do -- through the end of the Summer -- so you can you go bask in the insight and humor of this renowned artist. Hop to it!

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