Art Fair Rage Syndrome

Ann Arbor is never a pleasant place to be during Art Fair. I understand that it’s a good thing, as it brings money into the city at a time when local businesses could really use the sales, but, from the point of view of a local, it’s a huge pain in the ass. Traffic is terrible, parking is non-existent, and tempers, as a result, run hotter than two rats fucking in a wool sock*. This is especially true on days like today, when the heat index reaches over 100-degrees. I don’t know if anyone’s argued it yet in court, but I’ve often wondered whether you could be acquitted of a crime perpetrated during this time of the year by arguing Art Fair Rage Syndrome. I’m positive that it would resonate with local jurors. Everyone who lives in the area, after all, has had the experience of being hot, sweaty, and stuck behind a lumbering herd of red-faced fannypackers, desperate to get around them and to a meeting, or, worse yet, to a restaurant with a surprise half-the-food-for-twice-the-price “special” menu. Anyway, I think I might soon have a chance to see if Art Fair Rage Syndrome constitutes a viable defense.

I received the following picture from a friend earlier this afternoon. It was taken in Ann Arbor’s Kerrytown neighborhood. My friend, who watched the whole thing go down, explained it like this… The silver car (pictured), in the process of parallel parking along the curb, lightly tapped the car in front of it, at which point a man got out of said tapped car, grabbed a cinder block from a nearby yard, and proceeded to throw it through the back window of the car that bumped his.

I was going to launch into a long tirade at this point about how scary things are in Ann Arbor these days, but it just occurred to me that maybe this wasn’t crime at all, but art. It’s certainly more compelling, in my opinion, than giant glass flowers or art on sticks. One just hopes this wasn’t his only performance.

[ *I was going to credit the phrase, “hotter than two rats fucking in a wool sock” to my friend, Scott Alma, but apparently the distinction belongs to his grandfather.]

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  1. Anonymatt
    Posted July 20, 2011 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

    I can remember a lot of positive things about living in Ann Arbor. Art Fair is not one of them.

  2. someone
    Posted July 20, 2011 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

    Stay classy, Michigan.

  3. someone
    Posted July 20, 2011 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

    Can a longtime resident explain the ‘four different art fairs’ bs to me? To an outsider, this just looks like a bunch of self-important pricks who can’t get their shit together for the good of the almighty dollar. Is this situation just a few years on, evolving, or what?

  4. Timmy
    Posted July 20, 2011 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

    The best art always evokes raw emotion.

    By that measure, I think the A2 Fair is far more edgy and provocative than its Shadow.

    Sure, others may blame the incident on weather and run of the mill “road rage,” but I think it is more likely a primal reaction, by both drivers, to having seen something like this.

  5. travis rex
    Posted July 21, 2011 at 12:38 am | Permalink

    as a lifelong Ann Arborite i’d venture to say that, dollars to doughnuts, if the offending driver had been driving a Prius he might have gotten away without such retribution.

  6. josh
    Posted July 21, 2011 at 1:30 am | Permalink

    Art fair makes me hate humanity. I used to bike to work on campus, and art fair days were rage inducing. A couple of Michigan land whales waddling back and forth gawking at the shit art, completely oblivious to everything going on around them, are capable of blocking all of South University. It’s not just that they slowed down my commute, it’s infuriating to watch the collisions and near-collisions of the herd of inconsiderate mouth breathers. Buy your tchotchkes, stuff your face on some ridiculously priced microwaved meals on Main St and get the fuck out of my town. How on earth did they make it to the gray haired years with such piss poor taste in everything? Every year they should let loose a tiger in art fair to thin the herd a little bit and provide some wholesome entertainment. /rant

    Sometimes I forget how good the move from A2 to Ypsi was for my blood pressure.

  7. Kristin
    Posted July 21, 2011 at 4:22 am | Permalink

    Crybabies. It’s a few days in the middle of the summer. I look forward to the day when it’s cool *not* to complain about fat Michiganders buying art you don’t approve of. Now it’s as predictable as everything else about the season. “Oh! I’ll call it ‘art on a stick!’ I showed them!” Personally, I would like to pull a wagon full of cinder blocks to dole out as the occasion demands, but more because it’s hot, and that makes my patience wear thin. I don’t rage against the money pouring into my community, though. I guess I’m not as secure as you guys.

  8. wetdolphinmissile
    Posted July 21, 2011 at 5:08 am | Permalink

    I love it, the sidewalk sales, the paintings, sculptures, the people, the food, the beer and I hope the cinder block guy has to pick up litter at the fair…

  9. Edward
    Posted July 21, 2011 at 5:55 am | Permalink

    I agree with Mark that, on the whole, it’s a good thing, as it brings money into the community at a time when all the students are gone, but it’s still fun to complain about it. It’s like how A2 locals love to complain about the University of Michigan and all the property it keeps off the tax rolls, knowing full well that, without the University, Ann Arbor would be lucky to have more than 100 non-farming jobs and downtown the size of the one in Milan.

  10. Edward
    Posted July 21, 2011 at 6:05 am | Permalink

    Next year at the Shadow Art Fair, there has to be a “Throw a Cinder Block Through a Car Window” booth.

  11. Kristin
    Posted July 21, 2011 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    Oh jeez, Timmy. That was harsh.

  12. Mr. X
    Posted July 21, 2011 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    I think, next SAF, I’ll sell paintings of cars with cinder blocks through their windows, affixed to sticks.

  13. Posted July 21, 2011 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    I don’t normally condone violence, but this guy is pretty amazing.

  14. Posted July 21, 2011 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    For the record, I just threw out a load of art that my deceased aunt had bought during the 80’s and 90’s. I know that at least half of it had to have been bought at the A2 Art Fair.

    It was a satisfying feeling.

    If anybody wants it, I can tell you the location of the dumpster in which it sits.

  15. Eel
    Posted July 21, 2011 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    I’d love to get a helicopter full of cinder blocks and drop them over Art Fair. I wonder if I could get an NEA grant.

  16. K2
    Posted July 21, 2011 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    I was in Detroit watching the news the other day, and all the crime being reported on was in Ann Arbor. There were multiple sexual assaults, and an episode of vandalism concerning a plaque commemorating a Jewish historic site. And a few weeks ago there was a shooting. And then there’s all the violence taking place in and around the Dream nightclub. It’s getting to the point where I’m terrified to visit from Ypsilanti.

  17. Elf
    Posted July 21, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    ….leaving cinder blocks lying around Art Fair in hopes of setting off just such exchanges. That is my art.

  18. Eel
    Posted July 21, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    I found someone who really likes this story.

  19. Posted July 21, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    “Terrified to visit Ann Arbor.” I’m sorry but that’s one of the stupidest things I’ve heard all day, besides all the other stupid things I’ve heard.

    Ypsi crime doesn’t get reported in the media outside Ypsi because it only involves poor and black people.

    Ann Arbor crime gets reported in the media because white people with money are involved.

    I would think that would be absolutely obvious.

  20. Bob
    Posted July 21, 2011 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    I don’t understand the art fair rage. It’s really just a microcosm of the annoying things Ann Arbor has to offer all year round. I find Wolverine football, with its endless news cycle, weekly traffic jams, freeway exit closures (mine), and hours of out of town SUV’s roaring past my home, several miles away, endlessly more irritating. Ann Arbor parking and ticketing sucks balls 365. And U of M med students, who live here, actually drive worse than the out of towners who don’t know their way around.

  21. Kristin
    Posted July 22, 2011 at 5:50 am | Permalink

    I thought that we like to complain about how crime is all that gets reported about Ypsi! Is there a new paradigm? Now it doesn’t get reported because of the nature of the citizenry? Just want to make sure I have it right.

  22. Posted July 22, 2011 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    You know what annoys me? All the people who bitch about the Art Fair. It’s the same people who bitch about the football games (the traffic, the drunk college kids, blah blah blah). Go move somewhere else more homogenized, where you can quickly get to your suburban chain restaurant with little hassle. Art Fair has always been part of Ann Arbor, and we should be grateful for it. Our house is filled with Art Fair art. We eat lunch there every Art Fair and I have NEVER seen prices jacked up just for Art Fair–that’s just bull.

  23. kjc
    Posted July 22, 2011 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    if you don’t appreciate the logistical nightmare that is Ann Arbor on game days and during Art Fair, you should move.

    Oh wait, I did!

    Unfortunately I still work in Ann Arbor. But since i moved to Ypsi (somewhere *less* homogenized), I guess I can still bitch.

  24. K-Dog
    Posted July 22, 2011 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    Really, folks? Bitching about how “crowded” downtown A2 is during a measly 4-5 days in the middle of summer? I don’t know if you folks are REALLY all that janked up about it, or just like posting wannabe, witty comments for people to read and think you’re oh so hip.
    Try and move to a city like SF for let’s say 6 months give or take, and come home EVERY day and try and find parking, not just for 5 days, but 6 months! Used to take me between 1/2 hour to 45 minutes. But I’m supposed to feel sorry that you have a hard time getting around town for one lonely week a year – please!
    And is there completely abysmal art – of course! Don’t even get me started on the little Bichon Frise dog in a martini glass paitnings, for starters – but is there also fantastic stuff that consistently amazes with quality, creativity and incredible professional dedication of the artists year after year? Yep.
    My suggestion is that if your life is so good that all you can find the time to do is to post up bitchy comments about overweight folks with fanny-packs walking around for a week downtwon, then thanks your lucky stars, sit on your porch and enjoy a cold beverage of your choice – or move to Columbus, OH and then REALLY have something to complain about!

  25. gary
    Posted July 22, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    the reason art fair gets us so mad is because ypsilanti is so dead during the day and crowds of people scare us.

    and i’m pretty sure my wife bought something at the art fair by the same person who did the bichon frise dog in a martini glass painting. she hung it over the couch this morning.

  26. kjc
    Posted July 22, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    i think the people who bitch about people bitching aren’t against bitching. consider those of who don’t love art fair as contributing to the heterogeneous flavor of the town.

    but i have been to SF. i can’t find any reason to compare it to A2.

  27. kjc
    Posted July 22, 2011 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    oh never mind, i see i’d have to live in SF and try to park EVERY day. which sounds more inconvenient than art fair, which was your point. we should get my friend in SF with a bike to rant about how he’s not gonna feel sorry for you trying to drive and park in a city like SF EVERY day etc. I guess people just have different opinions…

  28. Elf
    Posted July 22, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    I think most people, myself included, complain about the Art Fair because it’s fun. I don’t think there’s really any anger. It’s like complaining about Barney, or the Wiggles. People bitch because it’s fun. Do yourself a favor, take a deep breath, and chill the fuck out.

  29. Fwhedonist
    Posted July 23, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    I have to agree with kdog. The post and most of the comments here sound like wannabes trying to be hip. So u whine and say outrageous things to get a rise out of people. Kinda like little Rush Limbaughs and Glen Becks.

  30. wetdolphinmissile
    Posted July 23, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    Art Fair, Beer Fest, Crossroads, Car shows… a million after parties everywhere…it is summer and its hot as hell, the parking and crowds are a small price to pay for happy people enjoying art, beer or shopping, it is all good. My neighborhood is parked up thicker than I have seen in years…rivaling robust Heritage Festivals of years gone by.
    If none of that is good enough, go out in your yard and watch the Thunder in the Sky!

  31. Posted July 23, 2011 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    Actually, all of these posts about art fairs make me wonder what kind of art people really do like and put up on their walls. I’m sure it’s different for everybody…

  32. Posted July 23, 2011 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    I like that, Doug…. If people want to send me photos of artwork they have in their homes, along with little descriptions, I’d be happy to post them here. I think it would be interesting. Would you like to start, Doug?

  33. Posted July 23, 2011 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    Well, up on my walls now is art by Ionel Talpazan, Richard Shaver, Virgil Partch, John Keel, Laurie Simmons, Kim Deitch, Edward C. Caswell, Mark Maynard, my mother, a former girlfriend, and me. I also have hanging a signed poem by Maxwell Bodenheim, the union card of early vaudevillian John W. Ransone, and a picture of Alfred E. Neuman I sent away for when I was about 10.

    In occasional rotation are pieces by Alison Mork, Dan O’Neill, Mell Lazarus, and a poster signed by Danny Hellman and Art Spiegelman.

    I like looking at all of these; I don’t have photos, but you can always Google them for more particulars.

    And you, Mark?

  34. Posted July 23, 2011 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    Well, if you ever feel like taking a photo, Doug, I’d love to see one of these pieces, and learn the history behind it. As for my stuff, for the most part it’s folk/visionary art, from back when I lived in Atlanta, with a few rock and roll pieces thrown in. If you show me one of yours, I’ll show you one of mine.

  35. Posted July 23, 2011 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

    Well, I posted the Shaver painting on the Ullage Group site, so here it is:

    I bought it a few years ago, from the woman who inherited his studio.

  36. Posted July 24, 2011 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    “I think that all good, right thinking people in this country are sick and tired of being told that all good, right thinking people in this country are fed up with being told that all good, right thinking people in this country are fed up with being sick and tired. I’m certainly not, and I’m sick and tired of being told that I am”

  37. Posted July 25, 2011 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    On our walls…We have art by local artists from the Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair, including a stainless steel sculpture called “Space Olives” by a local Ypsilanti female artist who has done quite well for herself (Chaim?). Also have a mixed media/ceramic tile piece on the wall of a blonde woman reclining…Ann Arbor artist, he’s always on State Street but his stuff is also in a gallery on Main St. We have another mixed media piece made with pieces of earthtone fabric by a Chicago artist, Original Art Fair last year. Awesome acrylic of a surreal, almost cartoonish moonlit landscape by an artist out of the Southwest named Swezy we got at the Original Art Fair several years ago, which sits over our fireplace. This year, on State Street, I bought a necklace from a Michigan artist, made with a stone that SHE personally selected out of a copper mine in the U.P., and set in sterling silver. $70. (Alternatively, you can go to Macys and buy a $70 necklace that could’ve been made by slave children in a developing country.) There’s more from Art Fairs past. Basically, we try to buy something every year, as I believe in the concept of using your skills and talents to try and make a living. We always take a half or full day off work, usually Thursday, park at Pioneer, and take the shuttle down at 10 a.m.—yes, along with the fanny packers who waddle onto the return bus with their art on a stick ;) (What IS it with the art on a stick? To each their own.)

  38. GenghisKahn
    Posted July 29, 2011 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    Please, please you guys…do not move to the South. It’s been over 100 for weeks and we have art shows every day.

  39. Linh Song
    Posted July 23, 2016 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    My immediate thought was, “I hope a kid wasn’t in the backseat!”

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