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Shelby Township

May 1, 2013

Local artist to return to Art Birmingham

By Tiffany Esshaki
C & G Staff Writer

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Shelby Township resident Barbara Rubright will be at Art Birmingham May 10-11 in downtown Birmingham. She’ll sell her unique, handcrafted clothing, which she’s been designing for 30 years.

BIRMINGHAM — After some time away, Art Birmingham is reclaiming Mother’s Day weekend in downtown Birmingham’s Shain Park with its annual celebration of local artists and creative wares.

Now in its 32nd year, the free fair has become a staple event for the city, as well as the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center, which produces the fair. This year’s show will feature 150 artists from around Michigan and across the country selling their creations of glass, wood, ceramics, mixed media, jewelry, fiber, paintings and more.

According to the BBAC, each artist included in the fair has been selected by an independent jury and evaluated for creativity and skill, ensuring that only the best of the best independent artists are included.

One such artist returning to the annual show is Barbara Rubright, of Shelby Township. The long-time clothing designer has a national following for her colorful handmade clothing, which can range from casual styles to elegant fashions, she said.

“I’ve had quite an evolution in my hand-woven clothing, to where I am now working with a very tailored style, combining hand-painted silk linings, crocheted edging and all different textile techniques,” she said of her garments.

Rubright said it’s because of the patrons of Art Birmingham that she returns to the fair year after year.

“My clothing bridges the gamut from very casual, with (jackets) that can be worn with a pair of jeans, to (garments) that can be worn on special occasions or to a black-tie event. People who come have a very artful eye and they know how to wear it. I learn a lot from them,” she said. “This is why I come back to Birmingham. This is where I see the women who have grown up with me over the years, literally, and have been loyal over the past three decades. Now, they’re all about their grandchildren, and their schedules have changed, and I’m trying to change my designs to (fit that).”

In 2012, the BBAC moved the fair to Memorial Day weekend instead of Mother’s Day weekend, when the event had been held in years past. The Birmingham City Commission approved the BBAC’s request to move the fair back to Mother’s Day this year and, according to Annie VanGelderen, president and CEO of the BBAC, the nonprofit art center is excited to get back to tradition.

“We are so excited to bring it back to Mother’s Day weekend. I think people always assumed it was Mother’s Day weekend, and I know people would go to the park thinking the fair would be there and it wasn’t, and they would be disappointed.”

In honor of the holiday, the fair will feature a youth arts activities booth, presented by DTE Energy. Youngsters can stop by to create an accordion-style brag book to give to their mother, grandmother, aunt or any other special ladies in their lives.

VanGelderen added that Art Birmingham is more than just a fair of fine artists for the community to peruse. It’s a favorite neighborhood event that draws local residents and outside visitors to Birmingham’s thriving downtown shopping and dining center.

“We’re encouraging people to come down for the whole weekend. Many of the restaurants will have doors open for all fairgoers to come and have a great lunch,” she said. “Let’s expose everyone to this wonderful, beautiful town here. Hopefully, it will bring new visitors and they’ll return because we have so much to offer here.”

The 32nd annual Art Birmingham fair is produced by the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center in association with the Guild of Artists and Artisans, and presented by Somerset Buick GMC.

The fair will take place in Shain Park and the surrounding streets from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 11 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 12. For more information, call (248) 644-0866 or visit www.artbirmingham.org. Shain Park is located on Merrill Street in downtown Birmingham.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Tiffany Esshaki at tesshaki@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1095.