Art Birmingham rings in spring with 34th annual fair

By: Tiffany Esshaki, Cari DeLamielleure-Scott | C&G Newspapers | Published April 29, 2015

 West Bloomfield resident Steve Rohr’s woodwork, like this disk vase, will be on display and for sale at the annual Art Birmingham fair.

West Bloomfield resident Steve Rohr’s woodwork, like this disk vase, will be on display and for sale at the annual Art Birmingham fair.

Photo provided by Linda Ashley

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BIRMINGHAM — If the sunny, warm temperatures — quickly followed by windy, overcast skies — weren’t enough of an indication that spring has arrived in Birmingham, there’s one more sure sign of the season.


The annual Art Birmingham fair will return May 9-10 to Shain Park in downtown Birmingham. The Mother’s Day staple will bring more than 150 artists to the heart of the city to show off their work in ceramics, painting, photography, jewelry, wood, fiber and more.


The fair is hosted each year by the Guild of Artists and Artisans, as well as the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center, which likes to use the opportunity to mix and mingle with community members and get them acquainted with the programs at the art center nearby.


“(The fair) is the inauguration of the first outdoor art fair (of the season), and it’s a little bit of everything, which suits our vision of art for all,” said Annie VanGelderen, president and CEO of the BBAC. “I also love (art fairs) because you get to interact with the artist. It’s not something you’d get in a gallery space, necessarily. I think that’s something of a unique experience, all in a very casual, beautiful atmosphere.”


Visitors can admire the work and shop from the artists, who will be evaluated over the weekend by an independent jury for their creativity and skill.


West Bloomfield resident Steve Rohr will be one of the artists at the event. Rohr, who is in his mid-60s, has been woodworking since he was about 5, when he first made a denture holder/key rack for his grandpa.


Almost all of his creations are made from wood, and he rarely uses metal.


Rohr does both a natural finish and uses dye, paint and ink. However, he said, about every dye or paint he uses is transparent, so the grain of the wood remains visible and the project still looks like a piece of wood when it’s completed. In his earlier years of woodworking, Rohr created what he calls “flat work,” or furniture. But about 10 years ago, he began getting involved in “turning wood,” which includes crafting bowls, platters, vases and “hollow forms” — objects that resemble a vase but have a skinny top — he said.


Though he participates in eight or nine art fairs a year, this is the first time that he will appear at Art Birmingham.


“I’m really looking forward to this. I’ve never even been to this show as a spectator,” he said.


An average piece by Rohr costs about $200, and he said visitors can expect to see some unique marbling in some of his woodwork.


“What I try to do with all my pieces … is try to have a front and a back that are different. Even if they’re a solid color, I let the grain be different,” he said. While the grain on one side of a disk vase he created, for example, looks like a cat’s eye, the other side looks like a large “X.”


In addition to the “turning wood,” Rohr will create items from trees that people have requested to be preserved in some way. But he said it can take nine to 12 months for people to receive their items because of the process it takes to create woodwork.


For those who can’t attend the art fair, a collection of Rohr’s woodwork can be seen at www.rohrwoodworking.com.


While adults peruse the show, little ones can have some fun of their own in the Youth Art activities tent. Children 12 and younger can create their own oil pastel painting of a flower bouquet to be matted and sealed in a special cellophane envelope. The free project will make for a perfect Mother’s Day gift.


Youngsters can also take part in a piggy bank hunt, presented by Main Street Bank. Participants will search for piggy banks hidden throughout the fair and complete an entry form to identify the bank locations. Winners selected randomly from among all the entries will receive savings accounts with $25 deposited in them at Main Street Bank.


“This is when we really start to try to get out and do things around town. We’ll make a few appearances at the Birmingham farmers market, too,” said VanGelderen. “We really feel like we’re a real thread in the community. Not only do we want people to come to the center, but we want to bring art out to the people as often as we can.”


Admission to Art Birmingham is free. For more information, call (734) 662-3382 or visit www.ArtBirmingham.org.


Art Birmingham will take place from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. May 9 and from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. May 10 on the streets surrounding Shain Park in downtown Birmingham.

Staff Writer Cari DeLamielleure-Scott contributed to this article.

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