Come for the Politics, Stay for the Pathologies

Monday, July 20, 2009

Capitalism in Primary Colors

Welcome to Ann Arbor, Michigan, home of the University of Michigan. Primary colors: maize and blue. Primary political color: BLUE. As in left of Berkeley blue.

Ann Arbor is certainly one of the bluest cities in America. It is home to the University of Michigan (one of Dewey from Detroit's many alma maters). Finding Ann Arbor is easy; go to Moscow and turn left.


It was here in A2 in 1960 that the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) was formed and its political manifesto "The Port Huron Statement" was drafted by Michigan student, Tom Hayden.


Other notable alumni or former A2 residents include William Ayers , Barry bud, bomb maker and founder of the Weather Underground faction of the SDS, John Sinclair, founder of the White Panther Party (try forming an organization with a name like that today), WPP co-founder Lawrence "Pun" Plamondon and, although he chose to flunk out, creepy rock legend Iggy Pop.


But here in this socialist nirvana, Dewey from Detroit finds himself in the midst of what is arguably the penultimate expression of entrepreneurial capitalism in contemporary America: "The Ann Arbor Art Fairs".

3.26.09 Art Fair Home Pg Pic

For 50 years, Ann Arbor has closed Main, State, South University and many other streets  for its 4 day art festivals. (Actually 4 separate art fairs - all juried- providing everything from  $50k bronze sculptures and $20k paintings to "art on a stick": $25 bucks takes it home).


Hundreds of artists and craftsmen from across the country convene to display and, hopefully, sell the fruits of their labor to tens of thousands of potential buyers. Both buyers and sellers are here by choice. No government mandate, subsidy, tax abatement or bailout has brought them here. Things are bought and sold - or not -at the will, whim and caprice of the parties. No government license, permit or bureaucratic approval is required to complete the transaction. Prices are set by the seller and adjusted, as needed, to complete a sale. Pure, naked, unadulterated, free market CAPITALISM.


The gallery quality fine art and crafts were as good as ever. Yet despite the dizzying array of art, the festival atmosphere, beautiful blue skies, and unusual but comfortably cool temperatures, the crowd of buyers was dramatically smaller than in any previous year. Good for browsers, bad for sellers. Change is not always better, and nowhere is that truer than in Michigan.


Like many, Team Dewey did not purchase any art this year, but we did find several notable new - to the art fair at least- Detroit artists. Here are some of the best from the local ranks:


A product of Detroit's superb Center for Creative Studies, Jonathon Meyer creates elegant as sensual metal work as well as furniture and wood objects.



Sooney Kadouh digitally manipulates his photographs of Detroit with stunning and beautiful results. Any one who can make Detroit look magical in these times deserves an award.



Ann Arbor artist Denise Rohde also digitally manipulates her photographs, but her approach produces soothing, painterly results - for when you've had enough of Motor City Madness.




An artist after Dewey from Detroit's own heart (half of Team Dewey loves to animate and re-animate), Gary Blackburn creates CGI magic in his metro Detroit studio.



Beach in Leland, oil/p, 11x14

Kathleen Kalinowski is not from Detroit, or anywhere close. She comes to us from waaay over near Michigan's left coast,which oddly enough is a much more conservative side of the state. We wanted our coverage to be fair and balanced. We love her impressionistic painted scenes of Lake Michigan and rural northern Michigan (the other half of Team Dewey is an avid painter).

It is with an uplifted spirit and a vague sense that things may work out in the long run, even here in the heart of socialist darkness, that we say "so long" to Ann Arbor's once-a-year orgy of art and capitalism, the true "power to the people," and look forward to its return next July.

OK Ann Arbor: you may now resume chanting "Kumbaya" and "yes we can". The rest of us will get back to work.