Linda Legris, of Florida, looks at pet wind chimes at a prior Art on the Grand.

Linda Legris, of Florida, looks at pet wind chimes at a prior Art on the Grand.

File photo by Erin Sanchez


Art on the Grand: An art-focused art fair

By: Jonathan Shead | Farmington Press | Published May 28, 2019

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FARMINGTON HILLS — Art on the Grand, the annual art fair co-hosted by Farmington Hills’ Cultural Arts Division and the Farmington Downtown Development Authority, returns for its 10-year anniversary this June.

The free two-day event, which features a diversity of artists and craftspeople selling their homemade products, will take place 10 a.m.-7 p.m. June 1 and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. June 2 between Farmington Road and Grove Street in downtown Farmington.

The fair will boast roughly 100 vendors, along with 40 youth artists in grades 3-12 within the Kids Art Alley. A kids zone with programming provided by the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Farmington Community Library and more — including an imagination playground, an art-making workshop, face painting and henna art — will also be available for children and their families.

The Farmington Farmers Market will be open in conjunction with the art fair during normal operating hours June 1.

Doug Delind, a local ceramic artist, will be on-site at the corner of Grand River Avenue and Market Street producing a public collaborative art piece, said Kate Knight, the director of the Farmington DDA. Patrons are invited to join Delind in creating a public art piece that will be moved and displayed in downtown Farmington.

“Like always, there’s a really great mix of different styles and disciplines of art, so there’s something for anyone,” said Rachel Timlin, the director of Farmington Hills’ Cultural Arts Division. “We’ve got everything from jewelry to traditional paintings and photography; we have some furniture artists this year, which is exciting; we’ve got garden art, which is always popular; (and) handmade clothing.”

Beyond the art and artist booths, and the art-centric kids activities, however, attendees won’t find any other entertainment floating around the festival, and that’s done for a purpose, said Timlin.

As Art on the Grand has grown over the years, the cities have decided to stay away from adding live entertainment, food trucks or other activities that art fairs around the state have introduced in order to drum up more foot traffic. They want the fair to focus on the art and the hardworking artists, without having too many other distractions.

“Every year people will ask if we plan on growing and getting bigger or going down any more side streets, and we’ve been strategically keeping it that size so every artist that’s participating can get the attention and the sales they deserve,” said Timlin. “I think when the art fairs get too big, a lot of artists get lost, so we found this is a good size.”

Another reason the cities continue to shy away from inviting food trucks or other outside businesses to the fair stems from a lack of need for them. With a variety of food, drink and additional shopping options already located downtown, Knight knows downtown Farmington already has everything it needs to cater to the patrons walking around the fair.

“People are coming to visit this event with cash in hand and an appetite for art,” said Knight. “It’s a group that attends because they know the products are terrific, but they’re also choosing to come because they know they can have lunch or dinner, grab a drink on the patio, hit the farmers market while they’re here — it’s a really compact, high-quality, walkable experience.

“I can’t think of a single merchant who doesn’t find extreme benefit from the city hosting this event,” she added.

While Art on the Grand has chosen to veer away from some of these modern-day upgrades seen at other fairs across the state, Timlin explained that it doesn’t mean they’re not looking for new ways to expand every year. They just won’t be expanding physically.

“Our focus is to always keep changing, growing and improving, but not to fall into the trap of making it bigger and bigger,” she said. “We try to do that instead by adding to the charm and keeping it accessible.”

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