From her artist’s booth, Karin Wagner Coron had perfect view of the 2021 Ann Arbor Art Fair. In the second of this two-part series, Karin paints a picture of her experience, how it went, what was the same, what was different, and how it felt to be back on the streets selling art after a one-year, Art Fair hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Hear it all as she joins "creative:impact’s" co-hosts, Creative Washtenaw’s Deb Polich and WEMU’s David Fair.
Creative industries in Washtenaw County add hundreds of millions of dollars to the local economy. In the weeks and months to come, 89.1 WEMU's David Fair and co-host Deb Polich, the President and CEO of Creative Washtenaw, explore the myriad of contributors that make up the creative sector in Washtenaw County.
ABOUT KARIN WAGNER CORON:
"I have worked as a practicing artist for over 40 years, while establishing and operating a full-service picture framing business. These endeavors define me as an artist and business owner; however, my absolute passion is my painting and drawing work."
"Primarily, I work with oil paint, oil pastel, and various drawing media to produce intensely colorful and active landscapes that depict real or contrived places. In some ways, my work calls to mind our relationship to the land, and the manner in which we alter, transform and navigate our environment."
"I play with scale and color while applying my extensive foundational knowledge of painting and drawing and my comprehensive understanding of hue, saturation, brightness and chromatic relationships."
David Fair: This is 89 one WEMU, and I'd like to welcome you to another edition of creative:impact. It is our weekly look at the local creative sector. I'm David Fair, and I'm joined by my content partner and co-host, Deb Polich. Deb, of course, is president and CEO of Creative Washtenaw. Good to talk with you again.
Deb Polich: Yeah, Dave, it's always good to talk with you, too. You know, last week on creative:impact, we spent some time visiting with local artists and regular Ann Arbor Art Fair vendor Karin Wagner Coron in the first of a two-part series on the 2021 Ann Arbor Art Fair.
David Fair: Indeed. We talked with Karin about what she was anticipating being back at the fair after it was canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic. We promised to bring Karin back this week to tell us about her experience at the fair. And I'm glad to say she's on the line now. Karin, welcome back to creative:impact.
Karin Wagner Coron: Thank you. It's nice to be here.
Deb Polich: Karin, we're so glad you're here. And we've hope you will have a chance to rest up after three days with the fair. And of course, knowing our art fair wouldn't be complete without a storm or two. After all these years, do you plan on rain?
Karin Wagner Coron: Yeah, we always have something. But this really was the first year. It's never rained this much all in one day. I was actually cold.
Deb Polich: Oh.
Karin Wagner Coron: Which never happens. I'm always too hot. But, you know, we come prepared. That's one of the things about doing outdoor shows, and that's that you have to be prepared for the weather. So, we all have tents to drop down, and they did a really great thing this year. They gave us the option to stay open. And if you wanted to stay there all day and see who came, you could stay open. And if you wanted to close, you could close.
Deb Polich: Despite the rain interludes, how was the overall atmosphere as you returned to this year?
Karin Wagner Coron: It was great. Everybody is so happy to be, you know, back out and meeting people. I heard all sorts of conversations of folks walking by, really engaged in conversation with one another because they were catching up. You know, many people vacation and have reunions during the Art Fair. So, I often get large groups of people, sometimes their whole families, sometimes just a group of women friends or friends from school that come to visit. And it was wonderful.
David Fair: When we spoke last week, you said you hoped that people would be willing to come out and enjoy the annual ritual of the Ann Arbor Art Fair. Plenty people did. Now, prior to the pandemic, it was estimated that the Ann Arbor Art Fair brought in about a half million people downtown each year. This year's fair was shortened to three days instead of four. And, of course, there is still some COVID to contend with. So were you pleased with the size of the crowds that were walking through?
Karin Wagner Coron: Yes. Yep, they were there. Sometimes there was so many people, I couldn't go from my booth to walk across where the pedestrians walked to go into the shade or to go to the porta-potty, because it was like there was so much traffic.
David Fair: Kind of a good problem to have, I would imagine.
Karin Wagner Coron: Yeah, it was. It was good.
David Fair: creative:impact continues on Eighty-Nine one WEMU. And we're talking with local artist Karin Wagner Coron about her experience exhibiting in the renewed 2021 Ann Arbor Art Fair.
Deb Polich: So, Karin, you know, I expect that the setup day is somewhat routine for somebody like you, who's been a veteran art fair exhibiter. So, besides the chore of setting up your booth, what was it like being back and connecting with your fellow artists? Were you distracted? Did it take longer to get set up as everybody's greeting each other?
Karin Wagner Coron: Oh, no. Everybody really gets their stuff up. They were pretty serious this year. Not, you know, some artists choose to sit next to their pals, because you can request who you want to sit with. So, there's a lot of groups of artists who hang together every year. So, they set up, they get that done, they go home, they rest, and then they come prepared during the show, and they visit and have fun. And it's really fun to watch. I tried to get away to visit my other artist friends, but I couldn't get away. I was too busy.
David Fair: That's certainly a good thing. But right at the beginning, as you were having these kinds of reunions with your fellow artists and setting up, were you optimistic or wary that it would be a successful event?
Karin Wagner Coron: I'd say we were all pretty optimistic.
David Fair: As you do most years, Deb, you were out walking and experiencing the fairs. How was it from a visitor's viewpoint?
Deb Polich: Well, I was out all day Thursday and some of Saturday, and it just felt great. The artists I talked to seemed to be thrilled to be back. And people were about and enjoying themselves and filling the restaurants. I found lots of folks carrying packages and whether those were packages were art or retail purchases, I'm sure it was all good for the local economy. Karin, how were your art sales and were people buying?
Karin Wagner Coron: Yes. Absolutely. It was almost my best Ann Arbor Art Fair, or close.
Deb Polich: My goodness.
David Fair: Anecdotally, I've heard a lot of other artists say exactly the same thing. To what do you attribute the great success of the 2021 edition?
Karin Wagner Coron: Well, I'll tell you what happened. I had many customers that came in that had just purchased a home, had just moved to an apartment, or downsized or upsized or whatever, or renovated a home. That was the other thing. Lots of renovations. And I had pictures of blank walls, people showing me their space, and they were looking for something and would it fit. And I spent so much time talking to people about their measurements and their wall sizes and their colors, and it was great.
Deb Polich: So, that's going to bode well for your format framing business coming here in the future, too, I bet.
Karin Wagner Coron: Oh, I hope so. I did. I had a customer come by who bought a big painting, and she didn't like the frame that the artist had on it, and she asked if she could bring it in. And I said, "Sure."
David Fair: That works out for everybody. creative:impact continues on Eighty-Nine one WEMU. And we are talking for a second consecutive week with Ypsilanti based artist Karin Wagner Coron about her experience exhibiting in the 2021 Ann Arbor Art Fair. The pandemic, Karin, required all of us to make many changes in what we do and how we work. As difficult as much of it has been, some of those changes have proven to be a better way and will remain permanent. The Art Fair organizers were very careful to follow COVID-19 safety protocols and considered the comfort of artists and visitors by spacing out the booths more this year, limiting the food carts and reducing the number of days of the fairs. How did you like those changes?
Karin Wagner Coron: I think it was good. I think I love having more room around each booth. It's more comfortable for visitors to look at all the booths. It's difficult when they're so close and packed right next to one another. So, actually, this is better in general.
David Fair: Do you like the three days better than the four days?
Karin Wagner Coron: I like the three days as a, you know, as an exhibitor. But I miss that fourth day, because I didn't get to go around and go shopping.
Deb Polich: You know, as I walked around, I really appreciated the more space between the booths as well. You could visit and view the artist's work so much better. And I could also move through downtown on the sidewalks. So, I really like the feel of this year's fair, and I hope some of those changes remain. How about you, Karin? Do you hope that some of those changes remain?
Karin Wagner Coron: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. I don't know if there were less artists or not. I just I don't have those numbers handy. But, I mean, I don't know if the exhibitors numbers were the same, just more spread out, or we had less artists.
Deb Polich: So, do you have one or two moments that you will most remember about this 2021 Art Fair?
Karin Wagner Coron: Oh, I just, it was, I just couldn't believe it rained all day. It was a lot of water. So I, you know, that was unusual. That never happens here.
Deb Polich: On that subject, protecting your work, other artists protecting their work, is it something you prepare for in advance?
Karin Wagner Coron: Yeah, but it is difficult. I had some pieces that got wet. You just hope they don't get ruined. They dried out. It was OK. All as well.
David Fair: OK, so in the end, the 2021 Art Fair was all worth it.
Karin Wagner Coron: Oh, yeah. Absolutely.
Deb Polich: That's awesome. Karin, thank you so much for doing this twice these last two weeks and giving us the artist's view of the Ann Arbor Art Fairs.
Karin Wagner Coron: You're welcome. Thank you for doing that.
David Fair: That is local artist Karin Wagner Coron, who joined us to talk about her experience exhibiting in the 2021 Ann Arbor Art Fair. You can find out more about Karin and her work and see some art fair images at WEMU dot org. Deb Polich is president and CEO of Creative Washtenaw and my creative:impact co-host. And, Deb, I'll look forward to our conversation next week.
Deb Polich: Yes. With another creative Washtenaw guest.
David Fair: I'm David Fair, and this is your community NPR Station, Eighty-Nine one WEMU FM and WEMU HD one Ypsilanti.
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