Artists, craftspeople and creators of all kinds have worked from home or solo studios during the coronavirus pandemic while their traditional outlets of summer art fairs and related events have been canceled. Now, with the help of a virtual event, these makers and their fans can connect to do some much-needed holiday shopping.
Newly created for 2020, the Michigan Holiday Art Fair will debut to share the fun as well as the creative finds of a summer art fair online during the holiday season, said event director Mark Loeb, whose Detroit-based Integrity Events are well known around Metro Detroit and beyond.
The online art fair will include more than 60 artists who ordinarily would have sold their creative work at Michigan art fairs, Loeb said. Their work includes jewelry, photography, paintings, handmade fashions, fine art prints, and more. Preview days are set for Sunday and Monday, Nov. 29 and 30. The live sections run from Dec. 1 through 6.
There’s never been a more important time to both shop local and connect to local artists, who are opening to bolster their income and share their work through this special event, Loeb said. Plus, the public has missed art fairs and browsing through these creative works, so all in all this event will be a win-win, he added.
“Many of the artists that will be participating have had few sales this year with all of the events cancelling,” Loeb said. “Your support can make the difference for them being able to return in person next year.”
Among the Integrity Shows art fair artists who will sell work during the Michigan Holiday Art Fair are mixed media artist Donald Calloway, sculptor Kelly O’Neill, jeweler Toni Tischer and Linocut artist Betsy Stecker.
“Many of us art fair producers have been meeting via Zoom – like the rest of the world – to come up with new answers. We waited until now to launch a show because we wanted to make sure that it included many of the important aspects of a live show, and some additional benefits,” Loeb said.
“Just like television is not radio with pictures, a live online art fair is not a live fair on your computer. Some of the live elements include the opportunity to directly interact with each artist in their online booth,” Loeb said. “You can ask questions, commission special works and more. The online aspect allows us to show you behind the scenes studio tours which would be impossible at an offline show.”
One selected nonprofit organization will benefit from all sales made on each day. Among the local nonprofits are Brilliant Detroit, Food Gatherers, Mint Artists Guild, and Mosaic Youth Theatre. Each charity also will receive a platform to share their message and products during the pandemic.
“We know we cannot make up for all the missed experiences from 2020. We can do a little bit towards normalcy and at the same time help artists to make it through another year,” Loeb said.
Someone who you seldom see at summer and fall art fairs will be a popular person at this event: Santa Claus. He and Mrs. Claus will be present for conversations and will be telling stories and singing songs. In the spirit of the season and the online world, guests can email wish lists to firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s been a tough year, Loeb notes, but he and artists he knows have high hopes for 2021 and beyond.
“Artists, like everyone else, have varying reactions to this odd year. Many of them love the extra time to produce creative art, though some are complaining that they are out of space to keep it,” Loeb said. “Others have done a great job of pivoting with sales on their websites. Even those that relied on shows and galleries are needing to find new directions this year. Unfortunately, some artists, just like some of the general public, are less able to cope with the situation. We’ve been offering online seminars just about every week to help them learn the skills they need to move forward.”