The Ann Arbor Art Fair is known by many as one of the premier art festivals in the nation, and it has become a Midwest tradition that draws nearly half a million attendees over four days. The art fair, which rolls into downtown Ann Arbor this Thursday, July 19, and continues through Sunday, is now in its 59th year. It’s also the largest juried art fair in the country, drawing a variety of artists from diverse backgrounds. Within that diverse swath of people, here is a list of some of the LGBTQ-identified artists who will be exhibiting this year:
Robert Farrell – Venice, Florida
Robert Farrell creates sculptural objects fabricated from sterling silver and kiln-fired enamel on copper.
“Each piece is made in a one-person studio and each is unique,” said Farrell in his artist’s statement. “The objects are recollections of childhood in a small Wisconsin town surrounded by rural structures — some still in use and some in decay — standing as sentinels and monuments to a quickly disappearing time. I have always been drawn to structures, of all kinds, as places of refuge and protection. While some of my objects depict easily recognizable forms, others simply refer to existing structures with an ambiguity that leaves opportunity for the viewer to interpret them through his or her own experiences.”
Armando Pedroso – Chicago, Illinois
Armando Pedroso’s artistic career had unconventional beginnings. After Sept. 11, he was laid off from the corporate sales job he’d had for 18 years. It was at that time he says he thought he heard a voice within himself that literally told him to paint. This was a rather strange message considering Pedroso had never painted before. But Pedroso listened and pursued his dream of being a self-taught artist.
“If you don’t believe in the voice of God or being connected to your inner spirit, we need to talk,” Pedroso said in his artist’s statement.
Ruth Crowe – Ann Arbor
Ruth Crowe lives in Ann Abor and originally went to college to earn a degree in art education. After being in the U.S. Army, working as an LAPD police officer and as a collegiate softball coach, Crowe started a new business creating custom designed sports awards for colleges and universities.
“This allowed me to begin making my way back to my creative side,” Crowe said in her artist’s statement. “In 2014, I started exploring with encaustics and image transfer processes. I prefer to use my own photos but I also like to incorporate vintage photos into my work. I love the old black and white images that seem to tell a story and the wax medium brings those stories to life.”
Tina Torrance – Tallahassee, Florida
Tina Torrance hails from Savannah, Georgia. She received a master’s in ceramics from the University of Georgia and spent many years working as a potter. Then she began experimenting.
“Although I am formally trained in ceramics, I am totally self-taught in polymer clay,” Torrance said in her artist’s statement. “In both a fortuitous and naive exploration of this new material, I applied every technique I had learned in ceramics and subsequently broke every rule in polymer clay.”
But it worked, and now Torrance has created a brand-new technique of using colorful and patterned sheets of clay-like fabric collage.
“When you look at each painting, the subject matter is clay,” said Torrance. “The background is textured acrylic paint. I try to use the paint in such a way that the viewer has to closely engage with the work in order to distinguish between the two materials.
“My work is made in a place of happiness,” Torrance continued. “This has always been my most accurate truth.”
The Ann Arbor Art Fair features more than 1,000 juried artists hailing from all over North America as well as from Israel, Macedonia and Tokyo. Other artists from Southeastern Michigan include David Jessup, Scott Jones, Xavier Nuez and Eric Sauvageau. For more information, visit artfair.org.