All over the radio, promoting the Shadow Art Fair

I was apparently on WEMU this morning, talking about the Shadow Art Fair. I still haven’t heard it, but, having talked with the guy producing the piece, it sounds like it should be interesting. For the most part, from what I understand, it’s going to focus on the legacy of the now 50 year old Ann Arbor Art Fair. We probably could have made it a better piece, if we’d said that the Shadow wouldn’t have existed without the Ann Arbor Art Fair, but I don’t think we said that… At any rate, I imagine they’ll air it again, if it’s not already somewhere online… And, right now, at this very moment, on the University of Michigan student-run radio station, WCBN, you can can hear my collaborator Tim Furstnau and me being interviewed by the venerable newsman Mike Perini, who happens, by they way, to emit delightfully intoxicating pheromones. Here, for those of you would would like to listen, are links to that interview.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

update: I don’t have time to listen now, but I’m told that you can hear the WEMU piece by clicking here. I’m also told that they will be issuing a more SAF-centric piece on Friday.

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  1. rodneyn
    Posted July 15, 2009 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    I caught the whole WEMU piece this morning. You sounded good, Mark. Confident, thoughtful, persuasive – good stuff. Made me want to come to the Shadow Art Fair – nice job!

  2. Posted July 15, 2009 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for that, Rodneyn. As someone who has a pretty acute fear of public speaking, it’s good to hear that I come across well.

    As for the WEMU, I guess they used some of my audio for this piece on the 50th anniversary of the Ann Arbor Art Fair, but, from what I’m told, there’s another piece coming out on Friday that’s more focused on the SAF. That one includes audio of my friends Melissa and Jennifer, who plan the Shadow with me.

  3. Carie
    Posted July 16, 2009 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    It’s pretty cool the amount of coverage you get from counter-programming against the Ann Arbor Art Fairs. It makes me wonder if maybe there are other opportunities from “anti-arbor” events. Maybe instead of Top of the Park, we could have Bottom of the Something. Other ideas?

  4. tim
    Posted July 16, 2009 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    Carie, I think maybe you’re looking for “Bottom of the wretched hive of scum and villainy, party”.

    I listened in a bit last night and think the press and attention SAF is getting is fantastic and will definitely create more awareness and bring more people out to Ypsi…

    But I’m a little confused because I thought the SAF was the anti-A2 Art Fair(s)? No hype, no promotion, no advertising (other than those rad posters and no corporate, no A2. I’m not insinuating an on air interview at WCBN or WEMU is the demise of the SAF, and for all I know you may have done on air promotions before, but I just thought it was interesting.

    When I first heard of the SAF I was delivering pie over at Aubree’s a few years back, got a delivery and walked into an absolute nightmare sorting through hundreds of people to try and find the owner of a large BBQ Chicken. I hung out for a bit and bought a couple stickers while I was in there. Can’t wait til Saturday, I’ll be volunteering apparently at the door telling people they can’t come in early. You know, the muscle.

  5. Posted July 16, 2009 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the note, Tim… And sorry to hear that you got confused… We don’t pay for advertising. That’s true. We do, however, take advantage of whatever free promotion comes our way. And we’ve done that from the start. The first Shadow Art Fair was sponsored by WCBN. They ran little ads for it that my friend Tim (a different Tim than you) made. And we’ve appeared on the WCBN show Pandora’s Lunch Box before every one, talking about what we’ve got in store for folks. So, that’s nothing new. Maybe you just didn’t notice it, though… But, with all of that said, I do think that it works best when people just fall into it, like you did. That’s the best way.

  6. Posted July 16, 2009 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    The Ann Arbor News also has something on the Shadow today.

    The first thing you’ll be asked for at Michigan Design Militia’s Shadow Art Fair, coming to Ypsilanti’s Corner Brewery on Saturday, is your two cents.

    Not your opinion, either (those are apparently still going for the popular rate of “free”), but a cover charge of two actual cents, to be applied toward a $1,000 local arts grant – this year’s recipient is Dreamland Theater, which promises to use it for a History of Ypsilanti puppet show project. Basic math says that’s a lot of pennies, but organizer Jennifer Albaum says they regularly take in several hundred dollars by the end of the 12-hour fair. “It’s funny because people never put in two cents – maybe they mistake it and put in $2, sometimes $5, sometimes $10. Sometimes their whole pockets.”

    Your change buys you admission into a sort of antithesis to the big fairs going on in Ann Arbor – small, DIY-themed, and local, local, local. Albaum says that for the first fair four years ago, “we basically said, ‘Hey, let’s invite 30-40 of our friends and see what happens.’ We had no idea that we would be able to pull it off, and then it was way bigger than we expected.”

    By now, it’s settled into the “40 artists, 9,000 gallons of beer” format made familiar by the fair’s tagline, and that seems just about right to the Militia. “People ask us, ‘Why don’t you grow?’ but then it becomes sprawling and less intimate. We don’t want to grow. We like keeping it small – we’ve found something that works for most people.”

    But just because the size doesn’t change, don’t think that if you’ve come once, you’ve seen it all. This is, after all, the place where you could once buy a bowl of vegan gumbo with a hug included, have your feet photographed for an installation and watch a giant stuffed cat eat a guy dressed up like a mouse. “We’re trying to push the limits every time,” laughed Albaum, adding that she’s thrilled that somewhere around half of the vendors this year are first-timers. “I can’t wait to shop for new things and see the new art.”

    There’s live music, too, starting at 2 p.m. in the beer garden, and this year the fair has paired up folk musicians with noise bands for what are sure to be a few interesting performances. (“I might have to shut my booth and see what’s going on with that,” mused Albaum.) Other performance art includes comedy, poetry, live DJ sets, short films and a shadow puppet show.

    The special-occasion Shadow Brew, made on-site, is as local a beer as you can get, and this edition advertises that it’s “brewed with earth berries, heaven berries, radish in the mash and a cherry on top.” You can’t wander in the next day and order up a pint to see what you’ve missed, either – Albaum says it always sells out.

    Albaum thinks it’s the Militia’s relentless focus on community that’s become the fair’s trademark. “There’s not so much focus on the business aspect. I think it’s easy to get caught up in that, and that’s fine, there’s a place for that. But I think the absence of that businesss-y push to the fair makes people feel comfortable – there’s no pressure. Our vendors make money for themselves because it’s an organic thing: People really want to come out and enjoy themselves, so there’s a critical mass and vendors just kind of make money by default.

    “And then there’s beer there, so that makes folks a little looser.”

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