Ann Arbor’s 47th annual Street Art Fair will kick off on Wednesday and will feature a new layout while remaining close to the city’s summer tradition.

Phil Dokas
Janis McGlone of Northville looks at the work of Pennsylvania artist Bill Secunda during the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair last July. (MIKE HULSEBUS/Daily)

The Townie Street Party will begin the festivities tonight, featuring music from local artists. Jill Jack and the RFD Boys will open for local headliners Bill Kirchen, Rich Dishman and Sarah Brown.

Of the 175 street artists on display this year, three are emerging onto the scene from the University’s Creative Studies Program.

Although seasoned Art Fair veterans will undoubtedly find familiarities among the vendors and exhibitions, a new formation of artist booths and venue sites will provide the fair with a fresh look and an easily navigable viewing route.

According to Shary Brown, Executive Director of the Art Fair, it’s the “same great location, new configuration.”

The layout strays slightly from previous years. Instead of lining Thayer and Washington Streets asymmetrically, the booths will be arranged in a more “positive” layout.

Forming an aerial plus sign, exhibits will extend from Fletcher to Thayer Street on North University Avenue, perpendicularly bisected by a second line of booths stretching from Washington Street into the Diag.

Entertainment sites will be located throughout the fair, with musical acts anchored in the N. Ingalls mall area near Burton Memorial Tower.

Art Fair-goers will have the opportunity to pulse to the rhythm of Mr. B’s piano and music from a variety of singers, dancers and musicians ranging from Chicago’s Jeff Libman to local bands such as Comatose Colin.

For children, the ArtZone and Imagination Station, presented by Chelsea’s Center for the Artswill feature free and continuous hands-on activities.

On Friday, the University Alumni Center will host M-day, with activities including an ice cream social and University-themed bandana painting.

Throughout the week, 18 different artists and members from the Potters Guild will give hourly demonstrations on crafts such as plein-air pastel techniques and jigsaw-puzzle carving.

Organizers will announce the 2006 Featured Artist on Thursday, a title based on excellence and originality demonstrated in last year’s event.

To ensure that the judging of the art is fair, a committee of jurors including Mary Schmidt, associate dean of the University’s School of Art and Design, Imre Molnar, dean

nar, dean of The Center for Creative Studies in

Detroit, six regular committee members and a panel of peer jurors will determine the winner.

A detailed schedule of events can be found at www.artfair.org.

The fair will run from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday.

Many local businesses will adopt similar hours to accommodate the plethora of visitors.

Historically, Art Fair attendants supplement Ann Arbor’s population by a steady half-million people.

According to estimates, attendance has reached 700,000 people in peak years, Brown said.

As many students and residents of Ann Arbor know, parking in Ann Arbor is enough of a hassle without the extra thousands of vehicles frantically barreling down one-way streets.

In order to ease the experience, Brown suggests parking at Pioneer High School or Briarwood Mall, where free shuttle busses will be provided for transportation to the heart of the fair. Brown cautions that due to construction at Pioneer, those unfamiliar with the area may want to play it safe and park at Briarwood.

Additional parking spaces will be available on Huron Pkwy with the pay-and-ride M-Art Line busses, as well as at various parking structures throughout the city.

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