TRAVERSE CITY — Ceramic tile artist Leif Sporck has spent many summer weekends in the last 10 years peddling his one-of-a-kind tiles at northern Michigan art shows.
“Some people say I’m on a tour like a band,” said the Suttons Bay-based artist. He sells the tiles, which feature more than 400 designs, at art shows in Traverse City, Elk Rapids, Glen Arbor and beyond.
Sporck's iconic Michigan renditions of trilliums, cherries and nature themes are perennial bestsellers among residents and visitors alike. They also attracted the attention of a Martha Stewart Living photographer, who took photos of the tiles at Sporck's Fishtown gallery for inclusion in a Leelanau County story in the July-August issue of the magazine.
Sporck is just one of the hundreds of artists who flock to northern Michigan to participate in annual summer art fairs, where art lovers will find it all — from handcrafted jewelry and clothing to sculptures and photographs.
Traverse City Downtown Association typically puts on three arts and crafts shows each summer. Sporck will set up at the Old Town Arts and Crafts Fair on June 23 and at the National Cherry Festival Arts and Crafts Fair on June 30. The third, the Downtown Art Fair, is scheduled for Aug. 17, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Cass St. between Front and Washington.
“It’s a lot of work doing one of these, but at the end of the day there’s a sense of accomplishment,” said Sporck, who will also be at art shows in Elk Rapids, Glen Arbor and Leland this summer.
For the last several years, Margaret Goeman and her sister have sold their stone birdhouses, picture frames, clocks, mailboxes and more at the annual Cherry Festival Arts and Crafts Fair. While the sisters sell their products to visitors, they also have many local return customers, Goeman said.
“I love the people at the shows, and finding the ones who love rocks. It's really funny how some people glance at our products and walk right by, while others are drawn in like magnets,” she said.
The art fair season is about to get under way, and while many towns host the annual events, here are a few to whet your appetite.
• Start the season at the Old Town Arts and Crafts Fair from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. June 23, along Union St. between Sixth and Eighth. The annual juried fair will feature nearly 90 Midwest and national artists and craftsmen.
• On June 29 of the following week, the seventh annual juried fine arts fair Art Rapids! will take place on the shores of Grand Traverse Bay in Elk Rapids.
• The annual juried, invitational arts and crafts fair during the National Cherry Festival will be held on June 30 along Union Street, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
• On July 17, the Glen Lake Women's Club hosts an art fair with more than 90 exhibitors in various media, including pottery, glass, fabrics, jewelry and more. The show will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Glen Arbor Town Hall on M-22 in Glen Arbor.
• In July, check out the 100 exhibitors at the 45th Annual Phyllis Olson Art Fair, July 19 and 20 at the Downtown Cadillac City Park.
• On July 20, 130 exhibitors will sell their works at the Petoskey Art in the Park in downtown Petoskey's Pennsylvania Park, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
• And it’s art under the pines at the 52nd Annual Artcenter Traverse City Outdoor Art fair, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 27 on the Northwestern Michigan College Campus, 1701 E. Front.
• Don't-miss August shows include the Suttons Bay Art Fair, where 90 exhibitors will set up shop on the shores of Suttons Bay at the Suttons Bay Marina Park. Show hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 3 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 4.
• That same weekend. 95 exhibitors will be at the Portside Arts Fair at Elm Pointe Estate on M-66, 2.5 miles north of East Jordan. Hours there are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 3 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 4.
• The 55th annual Charlevoix Waterfront Art Fair is scheduled for Aug. 10 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at East Park in downtown Charlevoix.
• Finally, the Frankfort-Elberta Chamber of Commerce will host its 37th Annual Frankfort Art Fair at Market Square Park, 7th Street & Corning Avenue. The show features nearly 200 artists and takes place Aug. 16 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Aug. 17 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.