PINCKNEY – For Michael Monroe, of Brighton, being a full-time artist during the pandemic was really hard.
“I was lucky to still be in business,” Monroe said.
Michael Monroe’s art studio, 427 W. Main St., has been in downtown Brighton for 20 years. It’s open Tuesdays through Thursdays, noon to 4 p.m. for framing, shipping or art purchases.
During the pandemic, Monroe, who has been an artist since 1979, tried to sell art online for a while, but said sales weren’t as consistent as when he attended art shows.
“I don’t know how they’re doing it,” he said of people selling online with success. “I probably sell as much online (in a year) as I do in one weekend at a show.”
Monroe hopes the 30th Art in the Park, which takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 4-5 in the Putnam Township Square, will offer him and other artists that personal contact with art lovers.
Admission is free, and there will be live entertainment, food and activities for kids.
Monroe, who is also on the committee for Art in the Park, said with fewer entries this year the show is focusing more on the festival aspect of it: more music, wine and dancing.
Monroe said plans are for an upbeat art show, with booths for local artists and crafters to sell their work and mingle with fans.
Linda Carey, the Greater Brighton Area Chamber of Commerce director, said the number of artists registered for this year’s Art in the Park is down 20% from what it was at the last show in 2019. Carey said it’s been a rough couple of years for artists, and many decided to retire, which has contributed to the reduction in participation.
Artist prefers selling in person
Monroe said he prefers art shows because he gets to meet the people who buy his art.
He typically takes part in 25 to 30 shows per year, but the past two years he’s attended far fewer because many were canceled.
At the beginning of a show season, artists and crafters can pay $5,000 to $10,000 in booth fees to reserve space. After pandemic-related cancellations in 2020, many art shows didn’t return full booth fees to the artists, Monroe said, which caused even more financial hardship.
A lifelong artist
Monroe created his first painting when he was 10 years old. He never had formal training in art, just, “trial and error,” he said.
Now, after 50 years as an artist, he paints two to three works per week, mostly of birds and water landscapes.
Monroe said he sells five to 10 original paintings per show, and also sells prints and children’s books. His works can cost $15 to $1,500.
Monroe has illustrated 28 children’s books, one of which, “M is for Mitten,” is available in many Michigan libraries.
To learn more about this year’s Art in the Park, visit BrightonCoC.org.
Sophia Lada is a reporter for the Livingston Daily. Contact her at [email protected] or 517.377.1065. Follow her on Twitter @sophia_lada.
This article originally appeared on Livingston Daily: Music, dancing and art — Art in the Park is back after two years