Ann Arbor, Michigan is a colorful Indoor-outdoor art museum. Paintings hang in every cafe, and fine art and crafts fill galleries and artisan boutiques.
Travelers first encounter art in Ann Arbor as they walk along the streets. Fire hydrants sport splashes of color and fanciful designs, and glancing down, visitors find tiny artful doors, leading from the street to inside a shop or cafe. They’re called Fairy Doors.
Fairy Doors Lead to the Magical Blend of Art and Commerce
Anyone willing to get down on hands and knees will be surprised at the detail. There may be a tiny pot of flowers on a stoop, or curtains in the door’s windows. Sweetwater Cafe has one, and when you enter and look at the outside wall from the inside, a matching interior door opens to show a miniscule cafe table and chairs.
At the gift shop Red Shoes, the bright red Fairy door is a smaller replica of the shop’s real, human- sized entrance. Open the inner door to find a tasteful gift shop for delicate winged visitors. These doors mysteriously appear in the night, and while no one’s talking, it appears that artist Jonathan Wright, who refers to himself as a “non-certified fairyologist” has something to do with it. Children often leave notes for the fairies on the steps, and they have been compiled into a book sold at local bookstores.
Ann Arbor Art Center Has Showcased Artists for 100 Years
Hitting its century mark this year, the Art Center, located in a historic building downtown, is celebrating by showcasing promising high school student artists. Don’t miss the Gallery Shop, which has handmade glass objects, beautiful hand-carved wooden bowls, conceptual paintings and shimmering ceramics, drawn from 300 Michigan artists.
Gallery Project offers Off-the Wall Art on Its Soaring Walls
This gallery on Fourth Avenue has high ceilings and is constructed of light maple and slate. It offers conceptual art installations contributed from nine artists selected each year who also function as curators. The slate area is often used for improvisational art. A previous exhibit displayed torsos of crocheted wire and a series made from scorched paper and Mylar.
Hollanders Offers Hundreds of Handmade Papers and Bookbinding Classes
Dedicated to making the practical beautiful, Hollanders, located in the historic Kerrytown area of shops, makes and gathers 1,500 kinds of papers from all over the world. They include metallic, rice, Amate bark paper made from the Mexican fig tree, and “cloud dragon” papers from Japan.. The shop started making marbled papers to use in bookbinding, and they still offer workshops in making books. Other classes include making pop-up books, paper vessels, collage, and book conservation. They also sell cards, stationery, and handmade paper boxes.
Selo/Sheval Gallery Offers Mobiles, African Art , Jewelry and Glass
This elegant gallery on Main Street has been named one of the top 10 craft galleries in the U. S., by Niche Magazine. It has colorful Hotchkiss mobiles in the forms of cats, butterflies and sharp geometric shapes, start at under $200, and there are also rare textiles, ceramics, (including a baby frog teapot at more than $600) and wooden objects. Artifacts from the owners’ New Guinea and African travels also appear.