Ann Arbor Art Fairs – Greetings from one of the largest art fairs in the country. Technically, Ann Arbor is four separate art shows that happen to run concurrently. There are a total of 1400 plus booths. Paintings, ceramics, sculpture, wood, fiber, glass, and jewelry are just some of the types of art on display for your viewing pleasure. And of course, everything is available to take home today.
Darcy, who I was dating in 1993, introduced me to Ann Arbor. I have attended almost every year since then.
Entire city streets are closed to vehicle traffic. Booth after booth. There doesn’t appear to be any logic or reason for the $6000 sculpture to be right next to the guy selling $5 ceramic trivets. But that’s Ann Arbor.
One whole block of East Liberty Street is dedicated to not-for-profit organizations. Everyone coexists respectfully and peacefully. The Right to Lifers with their plastic fetuses are within 100 feet of the National Abortion Rights Action League. The Republicans are within spitting distance of Congressman Dingell’s staffers. There are advocates for greyhounds, the homeless, and the legalization of marijuana. Some of the booths are common, mainstream charities. Some, like the nudists, two fat guys thankfully wearing shorts, are reminders that we are in a college town. All of the advocates sit in their booths and talk to anyone interested. If you aren’t interested, you simply keep on walking. What the Hell? If a couple of people want to spend their time campaigning against circumcision (for real), it isn’t hurting anyone.
There is only one group attending the Art Fairs, stationed primarily in the not-for-profit zone, that doesn’t play by the unwritten rules. Instead of manning an ignorable booth, they are positioned in the middle of the street at both ends of the zone. Their volunteers accost the attendees and attempt to force people to acknowledge their presence and take their fliers. They are a lie and a sham. They are, of course, Jews for Jesus.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m positive that somewhere, sometime ago, someone born Jewish decided to become Catholic, or Methodist, or whatever. That was a personal decision of faith. It was their choice and I honestly don’t care. I know men and women who have chosen to be Jewish. That was their choice. We aren’t keeping score. Jews for Jesus is different.
First, I must admit that I find any type of proselytizing offensive. I have always thought that the idea of reducing the search for a personal relationship with G-d to the experience of buying an overpriced vacuum cleaner terribly odd. But Jehovah’s Witnesses are, at times, amusing in their naiveté. J. W.’s are out collecting warm bodies. They need to hit critical mass to get to heaven. Jews for Jesus is an organization of non-Jews targeting Jews.
I just passed the tall, thin blonde girl. It is impossible to say what a Jew looks like or who, for sure, is Jewish. But this farm girl, a veteran of several years of Ann Arbor Art Fairs, is decidedly not Jewish. I’m willing to bet that the only Jews she has ever met are the ones she’s offended. Their blue t-shirts give us fair warning. We try to avoid them. Our children see their shirts and signs and ask us how you could have a Jew or Jesus. The answer for our children is to laugh and to tell them that on the next block there will be signs on fake cows advertising hamburgers.
The crowd isn’t as big in Ann Arbor this year. Art is a luxury. Some of the artists have confided that business is down. The Billmans, wonderful artists whose work graces both my office and my home, only have one booth this year instead of two. So far I have purchased only a couple of small items including a cool pair of cufflinks. The one thing I won’t be taking home with me is a new religion.