Sneak Preview: Royal Oak Outdoor Art Fair is This Weekend

Memorial Park will be the site of great art, music and food this weekend as Royal Oak hosts one of the area's most popular outdoor art shows.

Grab your sunblock (weather forecast calls for sunny skies and temps in the upper 80s) and your wallet: The 41st annual Royal Oak Outdoor Art Fair returns Saturday and Sunday at .

More than 100 artists from across the U.S. and Canada will display paintings, clay, jewelry, photography, glass, mixed media, metal, wood and fiber art at Oakland County's oldest art show.

Visitors can enjoy music on both days, purchase food and beverages at the show and take advantage of plenty of free parking.

Here’s a sneak preview of some the 108 artists who will be participating.

Karen Fenwick

Bloomfield Hills — 3-D Mixed Media

This is Karen Fenwick’s fifth year at the Royal Oak Outdoor Art Fair. Fenwick will happily tell you she is 60 years old. She didn’t start working with gem stones, fossils, pods and wood until she was in her early 50s.

Her art career began when she bought a Shaker basket at Greenfield Village in 2003. That prompted her to take basket-weaving classes at Cherilyn Fontana’s studio in Ann Arbor. One of the classes she took was a gourd workshop.

“The rest is history,” Fenwick said. She read lots of books and took lots of workshops.

Fenwick said Fontana told her she had it within her to be an artist all the time. “She pulled it out of me,” Fenwick said.

In eight short years, Fenwick went from a beginner to beating 325 artists to take home the Best of Show award last year at the State Street Art Fair, part of the larger Ann Arbor Art Fair.

There are plenty of good artists participating in the weekend Royal Oak Outdoor Art Fair, according to Fenwick. “It’s a beautiful venue, and it’s very doable for artists,” she said. “It’s just great. I enjoy it.”

For more information on Fenwick, visit karenfenwick.com.

Michael and Dee Miller

Saline — Wood

Husband and wife Michael and Dee Miller return this year with their handcrafted, hand-painted wooden flowers and hand-turned vases. The team has been working together for 14 years.

Dee has a fine arts degree from Eastern Michigan University. She always loved painting and says the couple just stumbled into doing wooden flowers, including daisies, magnolias, petunias and sunflowers. They have more than 30 designs.

“Our work combines many things I love — working with wood, painting,” she said. “It became our passion.”

Miller said their work has attracted some collectors. “People are always making requests for certain types of flowers," she said. "They come back and see us every year to buy new flowers designs.”

The flowers work well with many types of decor, according to Miller. “They add color to your home and put a smile on your face,” she said.

The couple hasn’t been at the Royal Oak Art Fair for a couple of years. Miller said they are looking forward to coming back.

For more information on the Millers, visit dmwoodart.com.

Harry Hearne

Murphy, NC — Clay

Harry Hearne has been making a living as an artist since 1990. Before that, he was a Baptist minister who used to tease his friends that one day, he was going to give it all up and become a potter.

As a joke, he received pottery lessons as a Christmas gift in 1985.

“From the moment I touched the clay, it was like I was home,” Hearne said. “Like I had been away from home and I just got back. Everything felt familiar.”

The time between taking his first class and selling his first piece was just two years. “And it wasn’t a pity purchase, either,” he said. “It was sold to someone I didn’t know.”

Hearne completed a two-year internship in Tennessee, then opened his own shop. Four years ago, he moved to North Carolina to be in the mountains with business partner and significant other, Julie Fischer.

Fischer has a twin who lives in Troy, so Hearne said the Royal Oak Outdoor Art Fair is a “family thing.”

“We came last year, and we really enjoyed it,” he said. “It’s a great location, easy to set up, and the volunteers are all nice. The park is great, and sales were good last year."

For more information about Hearne, visit turningpointclaystudio.com.

The Royal Oak Outdoor Art Fair will be held from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday at Memorial Park, 13 Mile and Woodward.


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