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How to Shop the Garage Sale Art Fair

Garage Sale Art Fair

Do you need a fresh, hip piece of art for your first apartment? Or a special piece of hand-blown glass to spruce up a space in honor of our long-awaited spring?

If you ever thought that owning a true piece of art from a high-end, juried art fair was just a pipe dream, think again. Check out Kalamazoo's annual Garage Sale Art Fair on Saturday, Feb. 28, from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Kalamazoo County Expo Center. Tickets are available at the door and lines form early!

This marks the 19th year that wonderful artists gather in Kalamazoo to sell their work at discounted prices. See a list of participating artists, images, and maps at the event's web site.

Since artists are always evolving and tweaking their work, art lovers will benefit. With 138 vendors displaying their unique creations across two buildings of the sprawling indoor expo center, knowing how to divide and conquer the art fair is key. There will be different mediums of art including clay, metal sculpture, jewelry, and glass among many others. You won't want to miss any of them.

According to the director for the event and jewelry designer Bonnie Blandford, it is best to come early to get the best selections and stay late for the best bargains! Others claim that starting in the back is a tried and true strategy. Food vendors and an ATM are also not far away. Print off a show map and highlight those that catch your eye and plan your attack, but make sure and see every single booth because there will be some fantastic work there that you won't want to miss. Many patrons go around three times just to make sure they haven't overlooked something!

"The artists will even consider negotiating prices all day," said Blandford. "Which doesn't always happen at other art fairs."

Kalamazoo's Garage Sale Art Fair started in a driveway so that clothing designer Mary Arkush could sell her end-of-year clothing. In true Kalamazoo fashion, the event outgrew its venue and spread like wildfire among the arts community and beyond.

"We've come a long way because now it's a juried art fair with artists coming from as far away as Virginia, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Missouri, and Iowa as well as the Midwest," said Blandford.

Regular updates regarding artists and types of works to be featured are available at the event's facebook page.

Artists in their 20s to their 80s will participate. Because it's a juried art fair even though it's a "garage sale," organizers get to pick the best of the applicants to make a balanced show, according to Blandford.

Shaway Ellison, a young local artist just starting out within the genres of photography and poetry, plans to attend to get ideas. It is quite possible that she will participate in the next few years.

"I have never attended the (Garage Sale Art Fair)," Ellison said. "I am interested in what's happening there and getting some ideas!"

Here is what you need to know:

Garage Sale Art Fair: Put on by Bonnie Blandford (Jewelry) and Michael Kifer (Clay), two area artists who travel the country and participate in juried shows.

Date: Saturday February 28, 2015

Time: 9:30 am - 4:00 pm (lines form early)

Location: Kalamazoo County Expo Center and Fairgrounds - 2900 Lake Street, Kalamazoo MI - north off I-94 at Sprinkle Road, follow the signs.

Entry Fee: $5 (no charge for small children)

Coat check and package hold are available to make your shopping easier.

Food is also available.

See you there!

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