Royal Oak clay artist Laurie Eisenhardt greets patrons during a past Art of Fire event in downtown Royal Oak.

Royal Oak clay artist Laurie Eisenhardt greets patrons during a past Art of Fire event in downtown Royal Oak.

Photo provided by Linda Ashley


Art of Fire reignites in Royal Oak after 2020 cancellation

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published June 7, 2021

 A metalworking booth features a large dragon head and wing during a past Art of Fire event in downtown Royal Oak.

A metalworking booth features a large dragon head and wing during a past Art of Fire event in downtown Royal Oak.

Photo provided by Linda Ashley

 Royal Oak clay artist Jan Bostwick will return this year.

Royal Oak clay artist Jan Bostwick will return this year.

Photo provided by Linda Ashley

ROYAL OAK — Last year, COVID-19 extinguished the Art of Fire, a longtime Royal Oak outdoor art festival that has entertained the community for the past 26 years.

However, organizers recently announced the return of the clay, glass and metal art show this year. It will take place from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, June 12, and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, June 13.

The juried art fair, which draws artists from around the country, underwent a change in location this year. Art of Fire will take place in the surface parking lot off Main Street, between Sixth and Seventh streets.

The event historically has taken place along Washington Avenue, but Art of Fire organizer Mark Loeb said the street closure permit would limit the number of people at the event to 300 at any given time, which is nearly impossible to enforce.

“The new site just has a whole lot more room for social distancing,” Loeb said.

He said the show will feature approximately 80 artists this year, which is fewer than the show usually attracts, but it gives organizers the ability to be pickier to ensure they have the greatest talent. Many artists are new to the show, he said.

“We’re still working on contacting some of the people who decided not to participate because of the fear of COVID to see if they want to change their minds,” Loeb said.

Besides encouraging artists and patrons to social distance and don face masks, Loeb said organizers decided to not include as many demonstration booths this year.

“Having 40 people standing adjacent and watching something for half an hour is probably not the best idea,” he said. “Though we really want to come back full steam with those next year.”

He said the city of Royal Oak asked the Royal Oak Chamber of Commerce to take over the show, which had previously been run by Oakland Community College, approximately 20 years ago.

“The goal was to change it from a very, very casual show, which only included clay art, to a bigger show that would have a strong identity and make a difference in the city,” Loeb said. “We’ve been in the top 100 shows three or four times, and the top 50 popular shows a few times.”

Although demonstrations have been ramped down, there will still be a special demonstration by the Michigan Silversmith Guild and an opportunity for patrons to make their own stained glass, courtesy of Wisconsin artist John Crahen.

Royal Oak clay artist Jan Bostwick will also return to the art fair after a few years off.

“It was sad that we had to skip the show last year because of the COVID pandemic but we are thrilled to be back in downtown Royal Oak this June,” Royal Oak Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Shelly Kemp said in a prepared statement. “We invite everyone to get out of the house, meet the artists, learn about their work, buy some beautiful art and have a great day.”

For more information, visit artoffirero.com or call the Royal Oak Chamber of Commerce at (248) 547-4000.