Promoting the Shadow Art Fair in Riverside Park at Midnight among armed strangers

There wasn’t a post last night because I was out late, having my photo taken, along with the other members of the Michigan Design Militia, for an article about the upcoming Shadow Art Fair, which is supposed to appear tomorrow in Concentrate. The only time we could all get together was last night, at about midnight. We met at Woodruff’s, where we watched the Evil Dead, and discussed possibilities for the shot with Doug Coombe, who had, just prior to rolling into Ypsi, been taking photos of George Clinton in Detroit. Doug said that he was open to anything, at which point Chris pulled out a big plastic bag full of baby dolls, silverware, and jars of raspberry jam. His idea, if I understood him correctly, was to have us pay tribute to The Beatles’ infamous “butcher sleeve.” We all agreed to give it a shot, and I suggested that we take the photo in the park, incorporating whatever weirdness we might find there. My hope was that maybe we’d find a few folks to join us in the photo, giving the impression that the Michigan Design Militia, the tiny band of people responsible for the production of the Shadow Art Fair, was greater than just three people, and considerably more interesting.

Well, we had some good luck. Almost immediately upon stepping onto Ypsilanti’s historic tridge, we encountered a gentleman being fellated. Unfortunately, he wasn’t too keen on having his photo taken, so we began to seek out others, following voices into the darkness. And, finally, after a particularly tense encounter with a man who clearly didn’t want his presence documented in any way, we found some folks who were into the idea of standing in as honorary members of the team, alongside Chris, Melissa and me. (We were particularly enthusiastic about the participation of a young man brandishing a machete.) Unfortunately, I don’t have any of those photos to share just yet, but here’s one of the Michigan Design Militia team, as we were applying jelly to our dolls.

[Pictured: Chris Sandon, Mark Maynard, Melissa Dettloff. Photo by Doug Coombe for Concentrate.]

Speaking of the Shadow, it’s set to take place from noon to midnight, this Saturday, at the Corner Brewery. I’m told it will be our 13th, and it’s shaping up to be among our very best yet. In addition to having a lot of interesting vendors, as always, we’ll have a number of people sharing their cool, interactive projects. Among these folks will be Vinnie Massimino, who will be shooting Shadow visitors in front of his green screen, and Chris Sandon and Martin Thoburn, who will be sharing their Exquisite Motion Corpse project, as seen below in their newly launched Kickstarter campaign. (They want to create a version of the Exquisite Motion Corpse for iPhone, iPad, etc, and they’re almost half way to their goal of raising $8,000 to do it.) Here are videos on both projects.

Green Screen Improv Troupe from Vinnie Massimino on Vimeo.

Oh, and I should also mention that, in addition to all of this, we’ll also be unveiling a special, limited edition Shadow Brew, and we’ll have a ton of bands, out in the beer garden, like Saturday Looks Good To Me, Minus9, Drunken Barn Dance, and Hot Boss. (Thanks to Ian Fulcher, as always, for curating this year’s band lineup.) I’m told that Charlie Slick may also be treating us to a bit of comedy. It should be a a great time. And, as always, it’s only 2-cents to enter.

For those of you who would like to know more, in addition to the piece coming out in Concentrate tomorrow (about our unwillingness to ever sell out), there’s also a new article at (about our plans to sell out). And, we’ll be visiting Mike Perini’s show on WCBN (Pandora’s Lunchbox) to discuss the Shadow at 6:30 PM on Thursday, for those of you who would like to tune in.

And, if you want to let us know that you’re coming to the Shadow, so that we can plan accordingly, you can do that on Facebook.

See you Saturday.

update: The Concentrate article is now live.

And here’s another photo from the shoot… That’s the machete being pointed toward the camera. (I think it looks like a wand here, which makes it even better.)

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  1. Edward
    Posted July 18, 2012 at 5:39 am | Permalink

    Blow jobs and machetes. It sounds like I need to give Riverside Park a second chance.

  2. Knox
    Posted July 18, 2012 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    I’m having a hard time reconciling the following quotes.

    “The reality is that we are always asked the question, why aren’t you trying to make money? And we might finally give in,” Chris Sandon, another co-organizer, says.

    The group has its eyes on two potential corporate sponsors, who could possibly be a part of this summer’s fair. It would be the first time that the fair received support from big companies, although they have collected donations and support from guests and local businesses or organizations such as VG Kids or the Ann Arbor Film Festival.


    “We don’t make money and we’re not looking to make money,” says Chris Sandon, a member of the Michigan Design Militia since 2009.

    “We’re not in it for the money,” Maynard adds later. They’ll repeat some form of this statement many times over a few hours. It’s written in my notebook on four separate pages.

  3. Ian Fulcher-esque
    Posted July 18, 2012 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    These things wiggle around some temporally, but here’s the list of bands that will serenade you as you have a pint and are admiring your newly purchased art:

    2:00 Oak Openings (Mr. Thom Elliott, sonic mind guide)

    2:15 Katie Battisoni (+ her guitar and some uncomfortably spot-on lyrics)

    2:45 Wavvy Hands (electronic folk from the Pleasant Mountaintop)

    3:30 Green nite Lights (of Green Lights fame)

    4:15 Charles Slick presents Sagittronics (living legend meets infomercial)

    4:45 HOT BOSS (future Alt Dot Rock if they can -plz Gd – get out of work)

    5:15 Hiss (a veritable who’s who of Ypsi sound generators)

    6:00 Drunken Barn Dance (honey-sliding heart-breakers)

    6:45 Rainbow Vomit Family Band (songs about love, loss, time and food)

    7:30 Saturday Looks Good To Me (hometown sweethearts done good)

    8:15 Minus 9 (face-melting, game-ending, family fun for were-rats)

  4. Mr. Y
    Posted July 18, 2012 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    Slurpee colonics?

  5. Earl T.
    Posted July 18, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    Who needs police when, like the Taliban, we can police our public spaces with men carrying swords?

  6. Watching Laughing.
    Posted July 18, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

    I think, Melissa is a hotty.


  7. Eel
    Posted July 19, 2012 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    “Blow Job and Machete” was my favorite television crime-fighting team of all time.

  8. Ian Fulcher-esque
    Posted July 19, 2012 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    Slight lineup change.

    Trabajamamos (workers of the past, alternative energy source of the future) have kindly — if not ironically — stepped in for Hot Boss, who, it turns out, could not get out of work(!) Come see their amazingness at 4:45!

  9. Posted July 19, 2012 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    Take a break from beer drinking and walk a few blocks down the road to join us.

  10. anonymous
    Posted July 19, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    Join you doing what? Will you be protesting the Shadow Art Fair?

  11. occupier
    Posted July 19, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    No protest. Just a GA at Frog Island Park. Here’s the flyer.

  12. Meta
    Posted July 20, 2012 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    From the Eastern Echo:

    Shadow Art Fair: ‘One day, 40 artists and 9,000 gallons of beer’
    By Bryan Alfaro | THE EASTERN ECHO
    Added July 19, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    The Shadow Art Fair, a juried event for local artists to exhibit and sell their works, is returning to Ypsilanti’s Corner Brewery July 21 from noon until midnight, and will feature local live music, a specially-crafted Shadow Brew or two, short films will be shown in the beer garden courtesy of the Ann Arbor Film Festival and several comedians will perform between musical acts.

    Shadow Art Fair was founded in 2006 by the Michigan Design Militia, a group of artists who consigned at the Henrietta Fahrenheit shop before it closed its brick-and-mortar location.

    The fair’s website said, “[Michigan Design Militia] decided to get together to see if we could help each other and the local community of independent artists, by sharing our resources and experiences. At some point in our meetings, the plan was hatched for a Shadow Art Fair.”

    MIDMI member and fair co-organizer Mark Maynard said the Shadow Art Fair is better than the Ann Arbor Art Fair because “it sucks less.”

    “We don’t necessarily take the things that are going to sell best, which I think is good and bad; it complicates things. There are good businesses that would sell a s—-load of stuff at Shadow Art Fair, but we don’t accept them because they’re doing stuff that’s similar to what other people are doing, or it’s stuff that we’ve seen before in past years,” Maynard said.

    He said the organizers are more concerned with people having the opportunity to speak about art and interact with artists who are approachable.

    “I think that’s what separates us: The bottom line is completely different. We [the organizers] do not care if we make a dime out of this and none of us are depending on this for our livelihood. We’ve all got day jobs,” Maynard said.

    He said the organizers look for vendors who want to interact with the crowd, so people come away from the event feeling they’ve experienced something new and unique.

    “Some sort of opportunity to exchange information or talk to somebody on a different level than you normally would, that’s more important to us than all the f——— T-shirts and soap you could sell,” Maynard said.

    The cover charge for Shadow Art Fair is two cents per person, and beginning in 2008 the proceeds from the entry fee has been added to a portion of the sales of Corner’s special Shadow Brews and given to local artists as art-related grants. Additional grant information is available at

    Fair co-organizer Melissa Dettloff said, “We started the arts grant a couple of years ago and they offered to contribute a dollar per sale of the Shadow Brew, which is usually $5 or $6, toward the art grant and that was just them being supportive which is nice.”

    Corner Brewery’s event manager Bari Simon said this year’s Shadow Brew will be a Belgian-style blackberry blonde ale.

    Dettloff said the organizers aren’t concerned so much with filling all 40 artist slots at the fair, but look more to quality over quantity.

    “I think having less tables up is probably going to be a good thing in terms of the space, and it just happened to be the number that we accepted,” she said. “We don’t want to fill it out just because we feel we have to. We want to pick the things we think are the best and most interesting.”

    Dettloff said it’s nice to hear people talk about how the fair has been an inspiration to them over the years.

    “I appreciate that people are interested in it and it’s always fun. It’s a good opportunity for people to come together and talk, and creative people to meet each other and maybe collaborate in the future,” Dettloff said.

    She said they try and strike a balance between the more traditional vendors with goods for sale, and ones that offer interactive and slightly weirder interactions.

    “You can go to the brewery and have an experience instead of exchanging money for an object. So we try to have a mix of that, because we’re interested in both,” Dettloff said.

    She said one of her favorite experiences from a previous Shadow Art Fair was the hugs and gumbo booth she participated in, where patrons could get a bowl of vegan gumbo and a hug for $5.

    “That was pretty fun. I hugged like 30 people that day,” Dettloff said.

    She said this year’s vendors will include perfume and jewelry booths, a green screen video artist, a stencil artist and ceramic and metal workers.

    “I feel like there’s a lot of different mediums represented this time, which is nice,” Dettloff said.

    The fair’s website listed some previous vendor projects such as a shadow puppet show, pictures with a creepy Santa, a hair-do station, a foot photo booth and a giant pooping cat.

    “The kind of art we offer is different than your typical art fair, so we want the experience to be different too. Beer plus art, equals fun,” the website said.

    Simon said Shadow Art Fair is unique, in that it’s very strange and interesting all at once.

    “Booking obscure, eclectic bands and DJs, and adding interactive pieces like an interviewing booth and a giant monster that you can reach into and grab random stuff. It’s not your typical ‘walk around and shop’ art fair,” she said.

    Dettloff said one of the main original purposes for creating the Shadow Art Fair was accessibility for local artists to display their works.

    “There is gallery art and the [Ann Arbor] Art Fair and all of that, which is like a certain level of art, and has a more difficult entry point and higher booth fees. Versus the Shadow Art Fair which is very approachable and very affordable, for someone who just has a weird idea they want to try out on people,” Dettloff said.

    The event is held every July at the Corner Brewery, located at 720 Norris St., which typically has seven to 10 exclusive beers on tap and will also have one or two specialty brews available for the fair. Corner Brewery requires people under 21 be accompanied by a parent until 9 p.m., after which no one under 21 is allowed in the brewery.

  13. Harvy
    Posted August 10, 2012 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    This night marked a weird turn in Doug’s life. It opened a door to a dark world. It breaks my heart to say it, but he’s now a Jugaloo.

  14. Angelo Drep
    Posted April 26, 2013 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    I love the way you roam this bleak landscape of Ypsilanti, discovering, as you go, that you possess terrifying telepathic powers which give you the ability to destroy anything you wish. Machetes are no match against the telepathic mind. You, Mark Maynard, do not need the hands you have.

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  1. […] offspring into Riverside Park, to look at the blue moon. While we didn’t encounter any illegal activity during our late evening walk, we did see something odd. While we were making our way along the bank […]

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