Art on the Grand puts the ‘art’ back in art fair

Art on the Grand is making its return to downtown Farmington this year, this after COVID-19 forced the cancelation of last year’s event.

The annual art fair, now in its twelfth year as a stand-alone event, will bring back the art and artists to Grand River Avenue on Saturday and Sunday, June 5 and 6.

Art on the Grand will feature 65 artists, the majority of which are from Michigan. That’s down from the 100 or so that typically populate the art fair, a result of the fair’s organizers spreading artists’ booths out to allow for Covid-era social-distancing efforts.

Even at 100 artists, that’s a smaller art fair than many other such festivals in the region. But that’s also the point.

Artwork by Brady Harris.“We keep it smaller on purpose because we want the artists participating in the fair to do well in sales. That’s our primary purpose, for artists to sell their artwork. We don’t have the concerts and food trucks like other fairs because we want the focus to be on the artists,” says Rachel Timlin, cultural arts supervisor for Farmington Hills.

Art on the Grand is presented by the Farmington Hills Special Services Department’s Cultural Arts Division in partnership with the Farmington Downtown Development Authority.

“We only have one sponsor booth and one food vendor; all of the other booths are reserved for the artists. That’s because when you’re focused on art, you tend to attract people who are there to buy artwork.”

Artwork by Susi Cruz.A number of downtown Farmington businesses are joining in on the fun. Tre Sorelle is hosting an artisan pop-up shop in their parking lot over the weekend. The Farmington Farmers Market will occur that Saturday, as per usual, and feature music from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. And the businesses in The Groves shopping center will be hosting a block party from noon to 6 p.m. on that Sunday, featuring specials, giveaways, and more.

The event at The Groves will also feature an appearance from downtown Farmington’s newest tenant: Dearborn Music.

With Gov. Whitmer’s lifting of rules on outdoor gatherings, there will be no capacity restrictions within the fair itself. Artists may still ask patrons to wear face masks when entering their booths, however.

“Supporting artists by buying their work is one thing, but we can also support them another way. We ask that if they have a sign for masks, that people be respectful,” Timlin says.

“We know that everyone wants to get back to normal but we can still be courteous and respectful to each other.”

Art on the Grand takes place in downtown Farmington this Saturday and Sunday, June 5 and 6.

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MJ Galbraith is a writer and musician living in Detroit. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.