Levis Commons hosts 8th annual art fairWritten by Brigitta Burks | News Editor | BBurks@toledofreepress.com
On Aug. 18 and 19, artists from across the country will show their work at the 8th Annual Levis Commons Fine Art Fair, now considered one of the top 100 art fairs in the country.
The fair is put on by The Guild of Artists & Artisans and features more than 125 artists.
Most fairs take a while to gain momentum, but this one has been popular from the beginning. It regularly draws 30,000-40,000 visitors, said Debra “Max” Clayton, the guild’s executive director.
“Levis was really a surprise from the beginning, because it just took off so well right from the start,” she said, adding that she attributes that to community support.
“The fair has become a must-attend event in Northwest Ohio, and every year the quality of the art surpasses our expectations. You can see the passion and creativity of the artists in every piece,” said Casey Pogan, marketing director with The Town Center at Levis Commons.
Art fairs give artists and patrons a chance to interact, Clayton said.
“It becomes so much more than just the artwork itself,” she said. “It’s that personal relationship between the fairgoer and the artist.”
The fair received a boost this year when it was ranked 99 out of the top 100 art fairs by Sunshine Artist magazine. The ranking means a lot to the guild because it often takes years for a fair to make it big, Clayton said. The guild’s Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair ranked 11th on the list and has been around for more than 50 years.
Clayton said she expects the ranking to attract more applicants for next year’s show. This year, about 250 applied and more than 125 were selected by a jury of peers. The artists were judged on creativity, technical skill and presentation.
These artists come from across the country — Texas, California, Florida and, of course, Ohio.
Local artists selling their work include Nanci Shufritz, Hunter Smith Eichorn, Mary Jane Erard, Melissa Sullivan, Meredith Wenzel, Chuck Wimmer, Timothy Hacker, Amy Beeler and Mike Rothfuss.
Sheri Rothfuss helps her husband Mike with his mixed-media pieces, combining metal and glass. She said they love local events like the Levis Commons fair.
“It brings the artist and the potential buyer together to meet face to face. It gives the buyer a story to go with the piece of art,” she said.
“We love to connect with local art lovers and art buyers. We like to have that local connection. It’s nice to be at home. We’re on the road so much,” Sheri added. She and her husband have shown at the fair all eight years and have even run into art buyers at dinner.
The event also gives children a chance to be artists. A free children’s art activity center, presented by the Toledo School for the Arts, gives kids a chance to do unique artwork like drawing what they imagine might appear outside a submarine window.
“It could be mermaids; it could be a shipwreck; it could be jellyfish,” Clayton said, adding that the fair can stimulate a child’s imagination.
“I’ve seen the littlest of kids just squeal when they see something they really like,” she said.
For adults, the fair offers a wide range of prices. “It’s possible to find beautiful objects in the $40-$50 range as well as multi-thousands. There’s really something for everybody,” Clayton said.
Admission to the fair is free. It runs from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Aug. 18 and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 19 at The Town Center at Levis Commons. For more information, visit http://theguild.org/art-fairs/levis-commons/. Toledo Free Press is a media sponsor of the event.
Tags: Amy Beeler, Casey Pogan, Chuck Wimmer, Hunter Smith Eichorn, Levis Commons, Levis Commons Fine Art Fair, Mary Jane Erard, Melissa Sullivan, Meredith Wenzel, Mike Rothfuss, Nanci Shufritz, Sunshine Artist magazine, The Guild of Artists & Artisans, The Town Center at Levis Commons, Timothy Hacker