Farmington Hills cancels Art on the Grand

In a typical year, about 40,000 people and 100 artists crowd into Downtown Farmington during the first weekend in June for Art on the Grand, a juried art fair that should be celebrating its 11th year this spring.

Art on the Grand Michele Reynolds
Farmington Hills Cultural Arts Division staff pictured last year with 10-year artist Michele Reynolds are (from left) Jessica Guzman, Rachel Timlin, Carolyn Powers, Brooke Samelko, and Karla Aren.

Instead, City of Farmington Cultural Arts staff will be promoting the artists online, as concerns over Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) prompted the city to cancel the event.

Art on the Grand Sunny skies
Art on the Grand typically draws thousands of people to downtown Farmington in June.

Cultural Arts Supervisor Rachel Timlin said that self-reporting income is optional, but she estimates artists will lose an average of around $2,000. Some make in excess of $7,000 during the two-day event.

Tinkerbot Andy Ozark
Andy Ozark, who creates artworks like this out of found items, was among the selected 2020 Art on the Grand exhibitors. (facebook.com/artonthegrand)

“It’s significant enough that some of our artists say they depend on our show for the year,” she said. “That’s the hardest part.”

We posed a few questions via email; here are Timlin’s answers:

How far had you gotten with planning before deciding to cancel?

We started planning the 2020 fair while we were in the middle of running last year’s fair, so by early March we had all the fair logistics worked out and the artists confirmed. We were about to send booth assignments to artists, but then we got the “stay home” order and everything was paused. Besides promotional work, we were basically ready to run the fair.

Madison Laidlaw of Hay.mo.mad
Madison Laidlaw of Hay.mo.mad, chosen for 2020’s Art on the Grand, makes stationery and prints. (facebook.com/artonthegrand)

What factored into the decision to cancel the event?

Given the fact that we are right it the middle of a national Covid-19 “hotspot”, the health of our residents, artists and visitors was really the only factor here. Health above all else! A few of our artists let us know that they would have to drop out as they had other health concerns and couldn’t risk getting sick. When the schools were closed for the year, we saw the writing on the wall – or in this situation – on the street. Art on the Grand brings in an estimated 40,000 people, so at any given time, thousands of people are in close proximity to each other. We believe that canceling the event was the responsible choice, and we wanted to give the artists as much notice as possible.

Barb Quenneville Art on the Grand
Barb Quenneville would have displayed her jewelry during Art on the Grand. (https://www.facebook.com/artonthegrand)

You’ve been featuring the selected artists on Facebook, will that continue? Are you doing anything else for the artists?

Yes! We had already created and scheduled all of our FB artist promo posts, so now we just have to tweak the descriptions a bit and then we will continue posting.

We are planning to update the Art on the Grand website with all the info on our 2020 artists, and have heard suggestions about creating a ‘virtual’ event.

Is there anything AOG fans can do to support the artists who’ll be losing out on income from the event?

Yes! Visit their websites and purchase their art. We will connect artists with art buyers through artonthegrand.com