Art on the Grand is scheduled to return to downtown Farmington next month.

Art on the Grand is scheduled to return to downtown Farmington next month.

Photo provided by the city of Farmington Hills

Art on the Grand to return in June

By: Mark Vest | Farmington Press | Published May 21, 2024


FARMINGTON — Those who love art and the great outdoors are invited to enjoy both next month, with historic downtown Farmington as the backdrop.

Thousands of artists and art lovers are set to converge on Grand River Avenue for the 15th edition of Art on the Grand, which is scheduled to take place Saturday, June 1, and Sunday, June 2.

The fair is set to run 10 a.m.-7 p.m. June 1 and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. June 2, spanning nearly a quarter mile on Grand River Avenue, from Grove Street to Farmington Road.

The event may attract as many as 40,000 people, with the work of approximately 100 artists scheduled to be featured.

The juried fine arts and crafts fair will include ceramics, jewelry, painting, photography, wood, wearable art, glass, sculpture and more in a variety of price ranges.

It is being presented by the city of Farmington Hills Special Services Cultural Arts Division and the Farmington Downtown Development Authority.

Rachel Timlin, who is the cultural arts supervisor for the city of Farmington Hills, explained how the collaboration works.

“We organize all of the artists — so we jury the artists, we do the call for entries — all of that part,” Timlin said. “We help with some of the logistics with the DDA, but we’ve got a great partnership with the DDA, so they handle the street closing down and the barriers (being) put up, and some of the events over in the kids zone and all of that, then we handle the artists’ part of it.”

Timlin gives the event a top ranking among those that Farmington Hills helps organize.

“It’s our largest event, by far,” she said. “It’s a large, important event. … It is our star event, I would say, in the Cultural Arts Division.”

The fair is one of many events that have been scheduled to coincide with Farmington’s bicentennial year.

Farmington Mayor Joe LaRussa has some familiarity with what a large downtown event looks like.

“I’m excited that during our bicentennial we’re going to host another great event, and I want to encourage everybody to enjoy downtown and get a chance to see how a 200-year-old community does it,” LaRussa said.

Timlin said that the application deadline for artists was Dec. 31, and then a jury of cultural arts staff members went through them.

She said the booth fee for the artists was $375.

She said 60 artists were cut from the application process.

“We do it because we really want to give every artist that’s participating a time to shine and not have to compete with other artists that are making very similar work,” Timlin said. “So I would say every booth is different from one to the next.”

From Timlin’s perspective, another positive aspect that Art on the Grand has going for it is that the size of the fair is manageable.

“What I mean by that is sometimes I feel like people can get overwhelmed at some of the larger art fairs,” she said. “This fair is, in my opinion, the perfect size. You can see everybody, with just enough artists where we don’t start repeating art styles, and the artists feel like they get a lot of attention from the participants that come to see the show. So it’s fewer artists, but it’s more selective.”

One of the artists set to display her work at the fair is Kelly O’Neill, who has been part of the show for multiple years.

O’Neill commended those who help to put the fair together.

“Art on the Grand’s my favorite show,” she said. “Every year it gets better. … It’s 100% an art fair, and it’s always the same weekend of the year, so I get more repeat customers there than any other art fair that I do, because … they know what to expect when they go to Art on the Grand. … They couldn’t do a better job.”

Art shows provide opportunities for artists to display their work on a large, public scale, and LaRussa recognizes the role that Farmington is playing in helping them do that.

“What’s special about it is that it brings a focus to the creative talent that we have in our community and from all around the state,” he said. “There’s a lot of creative people doing a lot (of) creative things, and to have Farmington as the backdrop for them to share their creativity with the world is a privilege for us, and it’s a great opportunity for our residents and visitors to see what’s available, creatively, in our region.”

Children can get in on the act as well. More than 40 artists in grades 5-12 will have their art displayed at Kids Art Alley, located near the center of Art on the Grand in the Huntington Bank parking lot.

According to a press release, fun activities scheduled for youngsters in the Kidzone include art workshops with the Detroit Institute of Arts.

“It started as a way to encourage young artists to learn how to be an art fair artist, sell their work and show them that they can make a living off of their work,” Timlin said. “We want them to understand the concept of art fairs. … It’s gotten very popular over the last few years. We have 40 kids this year showing their work, and they sell a lot of work, those kids.”

For some, the event is not something that is going to sneak up on them.

“People will tell us they block it off every year, like, ‘Oh, first weekend of June, it’s blocked off,’” Timlin said. “A lot of people consider it like a homecoming or like the kickoff to their summer, so it’s something I think people look forward to every year.”

Admission and parking are free.

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For those considering attending, Timlin’s advice is to “prepare to stay longer than you expected, because every single booth has something cool in it.”

“It’s so fun, and it’s so great to see artists selling their work,” she said. “This is the highlight of my job, because we’re trying to create this environment for artists to be able to thrive, and Farmington/Farmington Hills has such a unique arts community — very supportive of the arts.”