Nearly 130 artists from as far away as Florida and New York offer visitors one-of-a-kind pieces. The artists juried into the show present a range of art that is affordable to the first time art buyer and also includes pieces that are desired by the experienced art collector, says Mary Beth McGraw, director of the art fair and president of the Charlevoix Council for the Arts.
Charlevoixs art fair began in 1959 with Mrs. Edward Lemcke organizing the first committee. Determined to bring fine arts into the remote, northwestern area of Michigans lower peninsula, a committee, comprised of year-round and seasonal residents, held the first art fair, explains McGraw, a 27-year member of the art fair committee and director for 13 years.
At that time, there were no galleries in Charlevoix, and art was not part of the school curriculum. The art fair could provide encouragement for working artists in the region and young people with an interest in art.
Two years later, Caroline Rader succeeded Lemcke and continued as leader for 22 years.
Early art fairs offered special exhibits of loaned masterworks many borrowed from Mr. and Mrs. Nathan Cummings, eventual Sara Lee Corporation founders by famous artists such as Paul Cezanne, Edgar Degas and Henri Matisse, in order to further encourage the areas fine arts education.
It was a wonderful opportunity to view important, original works of art, locally, and committee member Edith Gilbert was able to make it happen, says McGraw. Edith was also instrumental in bringing the Detroit Institute of Arts Artmobile to the Charlevoix Waterfront Art Fair for three consecutive summers in the sixties.
Special exhibits continued through 1978, but then were disbanded due to impossible logistics for transportation and insurance fees connected with the exhibits.
HIGH QUALITY ART
Originally awarding ribbons in all categories for artists desiring their work to be judged and allowing paid entry to all, the art fairs growth eventually warranted a jury.
We have a knowledgeable and balanced group that jury the fair each year, says McGraw. Based on the feedback weve received from artists, the public, and the reputation the art fair enjoys in the media, it appears they do a laudable job of selecting high quality art/artists.
An estimated 600 to 1,000 entries are received each year although no actual count is recorded with only 150 spaces available on the East Park lawn. With several entries needing double booths, the show is limited to around 130 exhibitors each year.
There is a great deal of variety within the primary categories that are ceramics, drawing, glass, jewelry, mixed media, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture and wood, says McGraw.
An enforced requirement is that the exhibition is comprised of original works by the artist, and the artist must be present. Any reproductions must be clearly marked as such and are limited to a single bin.
Area artists Sue and Russ Bolt, Bonnie Staffel, Todd Warner, Terry Salmonson, Lori Bolt (a scholarship winner three years: 1976-1978), Luciano Duse and Barbara Godwin are all long-time exhibitors in Charlevoixs art fair, with the late Norman Brumm present at the second art fair in 1960 exhibiting more years than anyone in the history of the fair.
Painter Lars-Birger Sponberg is (now) the longest exhibiting artist having missed only one year since 1966, says McGraw. He will be exhibiting in the 2008 Waterfront Fair.
STILL FURTHERING ARTS EDUCATION
Goals of the first art fair to further arts education are still in place, with funds raised being used to sponsor art scholarships for Charlevoix-area students.
The Charlevoix Waterfront Art Fair was the first (1972) in the state to commit proceeds from the show to fund scholarships for students wanting to pursue further education in the arts, explains McGraw. Since that time more than $30,000 has been awarded.
The non-profit Charlevoix Council for the Arts was formed in 1990 and continues to devote art fair proceeds toward area youth.
In addition to college scholarships, profits from the art fair provide funding for youth attending art and music camps, performances by professional dance troupes and drama companies, concerts by musical groups, purchase of original art for display in the schools and other public places, art and music workshops, visiting authors, museum visits, and grants for purchase of art, music, and drama equipment, continues McGraw. The monies have brought wonderful opportunities to our community, and the Council has stayed true to the founders original goal.
To commemorate Charlevoix Waterfront Art Fairs 50th anniversary, a unique publication is also being offered. A special book will be published on the fairs history, which will be given to the artists and available to the public for $10, adds McGraw.
Check out Charlevoixs Waterfront
Art Fair on Saturday, August 9 from
9 a.m. 6 p.m., downtown. For more information visit