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creative:impact - Anticipation: The Ann Arbor Art Fair From A Local Artist’s View-Part 1

Karin Wagner Coron

Karin Wagner Coron has exhibited at the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair for years. She has a routine: how many works to have in inventory and what to pack to be ready. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic caused the cancellation of last year’s Art Fair. In the first of a two-part series, Karin talks about that disruption and what she anticipates for the 2021 Art Fair. Next week, she’ll be back to tell "creative:impact’s" co-hosts, Creative Washtenaw’s Deb Polich and WEMU’s David Fair, how the Art Fair went.

Deb Polich
Deb Polich, President and CEO of Creative Washtenaw

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.


"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."

Credit Karin Wagner Coron
Karin Wagner Coron

"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."


Ann Arbor Art Fair

Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, The Original

Karin Wagner Coron

Karin Wagner Coron on Facebook

Karin Wagner Coron on Instagram

Karin's Booth Location at the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, The Original


David Fair: This is 89 One WEMU, and welcome to creative:impact. It is our weekly look at the local creative sector. And, today, we're going to look at an ever-opening community, and that includes the upcoming Ann Arbor Art Fair. I'm David Fair, and my content partner and co-host is Deb Polich. Deb is the president and CEO of Creative Washtenaw, and it is good to see these kinds of events back on the schedule.

Deb Polich: Yeah. You know, you've covered WEMU so much of how COVID-19 is past all of us around this last year and a half.

David Fair: Yeah. And on creative:impact, we actually covered the fact that Art Fair was going to be canceled a second year. And then a week later, we announced that it was going to be on. And here we are.

Deb Polich: Right. We broke that news that it was, in fact, going to happen. And so, to cover that, I've asked artist Karin Wagner Coron, a veteran of many art fairs, to do us a favor.

David Fair: And that favor is to do two interviews. We're going to do this pre-art fair interview, and then we will do one the following week and have a post-Art Fair interview. Karin, thank you so much for making time today. I really appreciate it.

Karin Wagner Coron: You're welcome. I'm glad to be here.

Deb Polich: Karin, you're a painter, mixed media artist, a member of the WSG gallery co-op, and you also own your own creative business format framing. And you grew up here in Ann Arbor. Historically, how important is the art fair circuit in general and the art fairs here in Ann Arbor specifically to you and your business?

Karin Wagner Coron: Oh, my goodness. The art fair has been wonderful for me as an artist. And it's also good for picture framing business, not the week of Art Fair, because nobody wants to do any business in town. They just want to go do the show. But afterwards, there's always an influx of new work that people purchase that they need to have framed. So it's great. It's been great for my business and me personally as an artist.

David Fair: Can you kind of share what you recall about how it was for you last year as we were in 2020 waiting and wondering whether we were going to be open or not and ultimately, of course, the Ann Arbor Art Fair was canceled. But as you were waiting and anticipating what it might mean to you personally and to your business, how were you negotiating the times?

Karin Wagner Coron: Oh, my goodness. It was a very difficult year. We downsized our business. We moved it to our home. For my employees, it was difficult to work together because we didn't want to be near one another. My framing business was actually quite busy and I was very thankful for that because as each show canceled, so I started 2020, I was working on pieces for the shows that I knew I would participate in. And then, as they canceled, I was part relieved and I was part so disappointed because I got out of my making art routine, which is something I really enjoy. So. I was very thankful that I had a lot of framing business to keep me occupied during the pandemic because it was very stressful.

David Fair: creative:impact continues on Eighty-Nine one WEMU. We're talking with Ypsilanti artist Karin Wagner Coron, who is showing in the 2021 Ann Arbor Street Art Fair.

Deb Polich: So, Karin, you know, this year, as you anticipated, the possibilities of fairs opening in 2021, what's that been like for you? Again, kind of going through that same routine, knowing that, knowing and so on.

Karin Wagner Coron: Oh, it was it's been wonderful. I'm so happy that the shows are back. I can't wait. I miss doing them. I missed the income. I love putting together a body of work for a new show. It's really exciting. You know, each artist gets a ten by ten booth of their very own. And I can do whatever I want in that space. And I really enjoy pulling all these pieces together for this show.

David Fair: For those who haven't seen it, how would you characterize the personality of the works you put on display?

Credit Karin Wagner Coron
#1 Iowa Series by Karin Wagner Coron

Karin Wagner Coron: My work is landscape. It is very colorful, it's, I would say, enhanced color, and they are often about the place. So, you might see one of my pieces and recognize it or you might see one of my pieces and you will know that it's landscape, but you won't know where it is because it's about color or composition, light, those sorts of minimal things.

David Fair: Have you shown in any other fairs since COVID hit or is this your first foray back into the circuit?

Karin Wagner Coron: No, I had a show in Des Moines, Iowa in June. That was my first show, and it was wonderful.

David Fair: The 2021 Art Fair opens in days. We know the fairs are following health protocols as required and that the fair will run Thursday through Saturday, a day shorter than usual. So what changes are you making to accommodate this kind of new reality we exist in?

Karin Wagner Coron: Well, I'm hoping that the organizers are giving us some space between our booths more than usual. That would be helpful, so that there's room for people to walk around your booths, so they don't have to look at work. So that I guess I should say so not that everyone is inside your booth at the same time. So some people can be outside and some people can be inside, so that everyone can enjoy it, but they don't have to be right next to one another.

David Fair: creative:impact continues on Eighty-Nine one WEMU. And again, we're talking with Ypsilanti artist Karin Wagner Coron, who is showing in the 2021 Ann Arbor Street Art Fair.

Deb Polich: Karin, you know, you have a following of collectors, many that come to see you specifically at the art fair here in Ann Arbor. With your experience at your earlier fair this year and then anticipating this one, do you see anything different in regards to your collectors and visitors?

Karin Wagner Coron: Oh, I hope that they are. I hope they're ready to buy. I just think it's a great event for people who have been home. Everybody's been stuck in their houses, and I'm hoping that some people have been saving their money for the art fair, so that they can come in and fill that space on their wall that's been empty this whole year during the pandemic. So that's my hope.

Deb Polich: What about the interactions with other artists at the fair?

Karin Wagner Coron: Oh, that's always a wonderful piece for me. You know, you work in your studio alone a lot of the time. So, when you get to go to a show and you sit on the street with other artists, I'm always enjoying learning about new people, how they approach their artwork in their life, and I am so impressed with how unusual some folks live their life and how they do it. It's always unique. Each and every artist has a great story about how they manage. So it's wonderful.

David Fair: There is such a hunger to get out and commune once again. And this typically is an event that brings about a half million people. And are there any hesitations or trepidation on your part?

Karin Wagner Coron: No, I'm very confident in the organizers of the shows and our city, Ann Arbor, puts a lot of effort into preparing for that many people to come into town. So there's a lot of resources available, should there be an issue. I am going to come prepared with masks and hand sanitizer, and I will try and keep my six-feet distance and keep track of who's in my booth at all times, so that I don't have too many people too close together. So, I guess that's the biggest issue is that there'll be a lot of people at one time.

David Fair: This is such a huge tourist event. But, as you well know, there are many townies who like to vacate the area when this comes around. Given that we're coming off nearly a year and a half of shutdown, perhaps that's going to be different this year, and you'll see more local faces around.

Karin Wagner Coron: I hope so. That would be great. I know I've missed the fair, so it'll be so great to get back to normal again in town. I think everyone will be ready. Our restaurants, our stores, we can go back to our great sales that have been around.

Deb Polich: I'll be one of those townies walking around the art fair as a visitor and actually doing some work too. So I'll be sure to stop by your booth, which is near the clock tower. So, we look forward to having you back next week to tell us how the fairs go for you. So, thank you so much for doing this two-part series for us.

Karin Wagner Coron: You're very welcome. It was a pleasure. I look forward to talking to you next week.

David Fair: Yes, we are all looking forward to it and hearing what you have to say. That is Ypsilanti artist Karin Wagner Coron, who is showing in the 2021 Ann Arbor Street Art Fair. You can find out more about Karin and her work at WEMU dot org. All the links will be there for you. Deb Polich is president and CEO of Creative Washtenaw, and my creative:impact co-host and partner. And we'll be back with creative:impact again next week with that follow up with Karin on how the 2021 Ann Arbor Art Fair went. I'm David Fair, and this is your community NPR Station, Eighty-Nine One WEMU FM in WEMU HD One Ypsilanti.


Credit Karin Wagner Coron
Trees by Karin Wagner Coron


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— David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can contact David at 734.487.3363, on twitter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him at dfair@emich.edu

Contact David: dfair@emich.edu
Polich hosts the weekly segment creative:impact, which features creative people, jobs and businesses in the greater Ann Arbor area.
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