Art and Apples Festival to showcase the work of nearly 300 artists

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published September 5, 2017

ROCHESTER — The Art and Apples Festival will return to Rochester this weekend, signaling to locals that fall is just around the corner.

Now in its 52nd year, the festival will entice art enthusiasts from all over to Rochester Municipal Park, which will transform into one of the nation’s largest juried fine art festivals Sept. 8-10.

“We had 85,000 people last year, so we are expecting at least that number this year and praying for no rain,” Paint Creek Center for the Arts Executive Director Tami Salisbury said. “We really do have five decades of tradition in this community, where families plan their whole weekend after Labor Day around coming to the Art and Apples Festival.”

During the festival, nearly 300 artists from across the nation will display and sell their work in a variety of mediums — including ceramics, digital art, drawing, textiles, glass, printmaking, jewelry, metal, mixed media, painting, photography, sculpture, wood and more.

Salisbury said a panel of jurors identifies top artists from across the country to bring together just for the festival, and the panel names the top six artists, who each receive a cash prize. The winner of the top prize gets $1,500 cash, and the five other winners receive $500 each.

“These are artists from all over the country. I believe we have 37 states represented,” she said. “About a third of our artists will be returning, and about a third of them are from the state of Michigan. … The art is just going to be incredible. I’m always in awe.”

Royal Oak artist Amy Ferguson, owner and creator of Printer & Press, was last year’s top winner. She will return to the festival this year, bringing her drawings, prints and etchings.

“Last year was actually my first year doing art fairs for a living — a lot of people don’t realize that this our full-time job — so it was crazy amazing that they even chose me for any award, let alone a really large one. It was a pretty surreal experience. I’m a newbie, and I’ve worked really hard to be able to do it as a full-time job.”

Ferguson said she tends to focus her work on magical and fantasy themes, with lots of animals and nature.

“For my whole life I have always liked to draw, especially dragons. It was one of my favorite things to draw as a kid,” Ferguson explained. “You have to make art about what you like. … When you make work that is what you like, it’s really easy to find people who also connect to it.”

Last year, Ferguson said, Art and Apples was her most profitable show, and she also ended up shopping while she was there.

“I love Art and Apples because the setting there is so nice. It’s organized in such a great way, and there are lots of other activities that go along with it,” she said. “Last year the art was just insane. All I wanted to do was buy everyone’s art. There was some really amazing work.”

Rochester Hills artist Bob Daily, of Bob Daily Design, will offer his lathe-turned wood art at the festival again this year. Daily has lived in the community for 34 years and said he has frequented the festival — either as an attendee or as an exhibitor, bringing his functional and decorative bowls, platters and other lathe-turned wood for attendees to enjoy — just as long.

“I like to promote art in the community. I think it’s good for the young people as well as the oldsters. It brings culture to the community, and it is a way to get people out to the nice fall festival,” said Daily.

After perusing the art, parents can let their children roam free at the popular — and free — Meijer Kids Art Zone, which offers face painting, inflatables, henna tattoos, make-and-take art projects from the Detroit Institute of Arts and the PCCA, and more. Youths will also be able to commemorate the city of Rochester’s 200th anniversary throughout the three-day festival by adding to a “monster mural” for kids.

Those ready for some entertainment can rest their weary legs near the band shell and watch Rochester-area high school bands, local dance companies, the Sheila Landis Trio, Denise Davis and the Motor City Sensations, After Blue, the Latin jazz group LL7, Melissa Lee Zenker, the Swing Shift Orchestra and more perform. All performances will be located on the main stage in Rochester Municipal Park, and all are family-friendly, according to organizers.

Shopping can work up an appetite, so festivalgoers can enjoy a variety of food offerings — including an abundance of fresh apple treats, such as fritters, strudels, streusels and caramel apples — throughout the weekend.

The Art and Apples Festival raises funds for the PCCA.

“This is our only fundraiser of the year,” Salisbury explained. “About 65 percent of the operating budget that we have for PCCA’s year-round programming is generated these three days.”

A suggested $5 tax-deductible donation per person at each entrance to the festival will provide funding for the PCCA, which Salisbury said works year-round to promote the arts and artistic excellence through art education, exhibitions, an art market, outreach programs and more.

“We work year-round, our little five-person staff, to produce the Art and Apples Festival, so we are really excited, and we appreciate all the support of the community and all the volunteers that come out from the community, because our little staff could not pull this off alone,” she said.

Other nonprofit organizations that benefit from a portion of the entrance donations include the Rochester Jaycees, the Professional Law Enforcement Association Foundation, Music Shapes, Wish Upon a Teen, the Rochester College Theatre Department, and the Onyx Theatre Troupe — Skating Team.

A free shuttle will depart from Rochester High School, 180 S. Livernois Road, and will travel to Rochester Municipal Park 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Sunday.

For more information, visit www.artandapples.com.