Art fair was in transition year

July 8, 2013

LUDINGTON — For the past 45 years, the art fair following July 4 has been a popular event in Ludington. This year’s West Shore Art Fair apparently was well attended by browsers and shoppers. But, several readers have contacted MCP about this year’s fair having less vendors. Since its beginning, the art fair was sponsored by the West Shore Art League. However, that group disbanded this past year and turned over operation of the fair to the Ludington Area Arts Council.

We decided to ask the director of the art fair to tell us how the fair went.

“Since the Art League disbanded last year, the Ludington Area Arts Council was given the charge of putting on this monumental task,” Jarvis said. “The first thing was to make it small enough to manage successfully in its first year.

“The second change came from the opportunity to take the fair back to its original vision of fine artist and crafters while trying to balance the different media of art available. This resulted in a few things: a higher jurying criteria and fewer booths, which included limiting the numbers of jewelers, potters and photographers. We wanted to make an abrupt differentiation between the July art fair and the Gold Coast Artisan Fair on August 10 and 11 (sponsored by the Ludington and Scottville Area Chamber of Commerce).

“A third reason was that Muskegon and Manistee also held arts fairs this past weekend, so many of our normal artists may not have even applied this year.”

Jarvis said that the arts council did hear that there were a lot of people who were disappointed in the fair, “because they came expecting the fair that was managed by the art league.”

However, “all of the artists and vendors had an incredible weekend and are rating their experience as exceeding expectations. Many met their weekend quota in the first four hours and have vowed to spread the word that Ludington is again the show for high quality artist. This is important because last fall, the reputable art magazine, Sunshine Artist, panned Ludington for losing its fine art vision and becoming just another mediocre arts and crafts event. This year’s event was a glowing success and will put Ludington back in good favor with great artist and art buyers across the country.”

Jarvis said it will take a couple years and some patience from art fair goers, but she expects the show will grow in size and many of the quality artist who did not make it in this year will hopefully be back. And for some of the great arts and crafts favorites, Ludington has Gold Coast in August.

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