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Saturday May 27, 2017
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After the Super Bowl



That's a choice the weather delivered during the 2010 and 2011 Ann Arbor art fairs. And Greg Lawler, publisher of the Art Fair Sourcebook, has the answer: for sales, the storm was worse than the heat.

Each year, 10 to 20 percent of the fair's 1,100 artists respond to Lawler's questions about their experiences. Last year, artists in the South University and State Street Area fairs reported gains over 2010.

"Amazingly, sales did not suffer from the record-breaking heat in 2011, although artists and patrons certainly did," Lawler wrote of the South U show. He theorized that "only the most serious buyers were willing to brave the heat, and felt an added urgency to act." But with the state's economy still struggling, sales on South U and State St. remained below their pre-recession levels--and exhibitors in the Original fair on Ingalls Mall and the Guild of Artists and Artisans shows on Main and State streets reported continued declines.

"Ann Arbor used to be the Super Bowl of art fairs," says painter Stephen Baldauf, who's been selling here since 1981. But 2011 was his "worst Ann Arbor show ever," Baldauf says. "I barely made expenses."

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