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Two Days of Ann Arbor Art Fair(s)

I just spent two days in Ann Arbor. I didn’t stay the night, I drove home to sleep, but basically I did almost nothing else for two days.

On Friday, I did a shift helping watch the booth for Ann Arbor Fiberart Guild. I did not have any work in the booth this year but I just helped out on a shift they had found it hard to fill. It was fun enough and not too long to be boring. After the shift was over, I actually was fighting a headache so I did not feel like hanging out very long.

I did look up Kathleen Dustin (Polymer Clay Fine Artist), and she was there so I chatted with her a little while. She is a woman at the top of the innovators in Polymer Clay, doing work that is truly Museum quality work. If you ever check out Ornament Magazine, they often use her work in their advertising. She draws and paints on polymer often, usually women’s faces. Then she also layers and shapes and molds layer after layer, sanding and polishing and sometimes carving into the clay then filling the carved areas with contrasting clays.

Kathleen is an example of a true artist. She will tell you exactly how she did the piece, show you what she did, have examples of each step she took… and there is NO way you can duplicate what she does. You won’t come close. No matter what you do, you can not have her style… which is as it should be.

The truth is, no matter how well someone teaches you, you have your own hands, your own sense of touch (in polymer this is very crucial… how hard do you push, are your hands warm or cool, what brand of clay are you using). It’s a very personal thing. You can try all day to be someone else, but you just can not be them. You must be yourself. You will have your own style, your own touch, your own way of bringing the art to the surface. You can only create in your own way. You can not be anyone else, nor should you even want to. You can aspire to be that good, you can aspire to be that inspiring, that original, that polished. I mean, I’d love to be Lucy Neatby when I grow up, but I never will be. I’ll be LynnH. Period.

So… please go to Kathleen Dustin’s site and check out her amazing work. She is a one-of-a-kind innovator, a true artist of world class, museum-quality work. She is also kind to me when I’m not really in her league… a class act. Of course, when I was at her booth, there were people purchasing and I needed to stand back and let her make a living. However, we had a nice chat when things slowed down. I may actually possibly see her when I’m in Vermont in August. She’s doing the same large art fair as my friend Luann Udell (that fair is 10 days in duration), and there is a chance I’ll go to the fair in order to see Luann. We’ll see what happens once I get out there.

I headed home Friday after talking with Kathleen… before the show ended. I just could not shake my headache and I knew I had to get up early on Saturday to go down to the fair again and dance.

Saturday we danced at the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair (The Original… the first of the four large concurrent fairs that now all happen on the same weekend). We danced near a fountain and near the tower. This fair is the juried fine-art fair that is very hard to get into (this is where Kathleen was) and it was I think the first time they had this sort of stage. Friday I saw the goodbye bows of what looked like a modern or jazz dance troupe, and a singer-songwriter who was very good but who probably was wishing she had a few more people in her audience.

Today we had a pretty decent crowd… the sound guy said we had the best crowd of the week thus far. That was wonderful! I had a little solo in the middle of a set of two dances, and that was very fun, I think I did just fine. The stage was black, covered with a rubbery surface which means we had no risk of splinters in our bare feet… but the stage had no tent or roof over it, and the floor was so hot a few girls got blisters on their feet from the sun’s heat on the black. Fortunately, my friend Donna/Maya had a pair of modern dance slippers… they are suede leather, skin colored, with just a pad under the ball of your foot and straps to keep them on . This allowed me to dance on my toes without a lot of discomfort most of the time. The things that happen in the great outdoors!!! Burned feet from a stage, who would have thought?

After the dance performance, most of the girls went home and I was going to go with them. However, Donna/Maya said she might like to stay and see the fair more. I didn’t have any other plans so I went back with her. We had such fun! I was delighted to find that I could eat the sweet potato chips so I bought them… they cost too much for junk food and they did not agree with me since I have not had deep fried food in about two years… but I enjoyed tasting them and having the outdoor-junk-food experience common at events like this. When I couldn’t eat any more, I asked the two young women behind me if they wanted the rest and they accepted. I like it that in the midwest you can offer your leftovers to strangers and have them accepted right away without hesitation.

Oh, while Donna and I were wandering the booths on Liberty Street, I got talking to Betsy Youngquist about color. She is an artist I had not met before, it was her first time selling at Ann Arbor (she is from Illinois). Betsy makes incredible “paintings” and sculptures in a mosaic technique, but she mostly uses glass beads rather than tiles or glass pieces. She gets really excellent subtle shapes this way. She had a beaded otter, maybe 2 feet long, perhaps longer, that was exquisite. Her wall pieces look like they are constructed on ceramic sheets, but they could be watercolor with a shiny glaze to make them shine like ceramic. You might like to check out Betsy’s website and see her excellent works..

The photos today are: the Ann Arbor Fiberart Guild booth (on left) in the middle of the crowd on State Street, at the corner of North University; the beautiful mall area just behind the stage where we danced… elephant ears (large fried pastries) on right, fresh fruit smoothies on left, Potters Guild booth straight ahead, artists to far right and behind, past the stage; two pictures of Habibi Dancers… I’m in the purple on left/front in the first picture, and the second shot is other dancers; and me eating one huge sweet potato chip… really, this was all one piece of potato.

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