James Parker is a photographer who will be at the 49th Common Ground Birmingham Street Art Fair. “In the Shadow of the Bear” is one of his favorite pieces.

James Parker is a photographer who will be at the 49th Common Ground Birmingham Street Art Fair. “In the Shadow of the Bear” is one of his favorite pieces.

Photo by James Parker

Juried artists prepare for 49th Common Ground Birmingham Street Art Fair

By: Mary Genson | Birmingham-Bloomfield Eagle | Published September 20, 2023


BIRMINGHAM — Shain Park will be the venue for the 49th Common Ground Birmingham Street Art Fair.

One hundred juried artists will have their art showcased in this show ​​ 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sept. 23 and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 24.

Common Ground,  a crisis response agency focusing primarily on mental health and substance use, is partnering with the Guild of Artists and Artisans for this event.

“Birmingham remains a very important community to us,” said Jeff Kapuscinski, Common Ground’s chief external relations officer. “That is where our first location was. In fact, it was a bunch of parents and volunteers that came together concerned about teen suicide and drug use that really led to the creation of Common Ground.”

Last Common Ground served more than 170,000 people. Its Behavioral Health Urgent Care is the provider for 988 in Michigan.

Common Ground used to run this show themselves, but years ago they decided to collaborate with the Guild of Artists and Artisans.

“It really crosses a broad spectrum. … We get oil painting, watercolor, glasswork jewelry, wood carvings. Almost any medium you can think of is represented at the art fair,” Kapuscinski said.

This year’s food vendors include Tastes For You, Little Jimmy’s Italian Ices, Marilyn’s, Frick’n Good Cookies and Luv’s Lemonade.

Saturday’s entertainment includes a performance from Mayflower Music 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and Donatella 1-3 p.m.

On Sunday, Axis Music Academy will perform 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and Yankin’ Covers will perform 1-3 p.m.

There will be a children’s activity area with various fun things for families to enjoy 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Sunday.

“We get a lot of families that come up, and so this is a way for them to not only experience the art but also participate,” Kapuscinski said.

An art therapist and therapy dog will also be at the event.

A silent auction of artists’ work will take place.

Rochester Hills photographer James Parker has been showing work in Birmingham since 2007. He is one of the artists in Common Ground’s Birmingham Street Art Fair. One of the series he shows is titled, “Stories Told In Things Left Behind.”

Many of these photographs are shot in the West; Parker grew up in South Dakota. He said these photos are “about the absence of people.” He captures photos of prairies, towns, abandoned buildings, churches and anything else that fits the theme.

“I’m not limited to just South Dakota. It is just probably the area that I’m the most familiar with, having grown up there, but I have lived here in Michigan for close to 40 years now. I moved up here for a job in the ‘80s and never left,” Parker said.

All of Parker’s work is digital photography. He experiments with color, texture and high dynamic range processing to give his photos a unique touch.

One of the pieces that will be at the Street Art Fair is titled “In the Shadow of the Bear.” This was shot near Bear Butte, in western South Dakota, in January, to represent winter in the Black Hills.

Another favorite of Parker is a photograph titled “Clouds Over the Grand,” which was taken at Grand Teton National Park, near Jackson, Wyoming. He shot it recently, before he climbed the Grand, 13,775 feet high, with his brother. The photographed barns are collectively known as Mormon Row and a part of Grand Teton National Park.

Learn more about Parker and his work at parkerparker.net.