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Artful Alumni

Alumni artists reveal what they love, and have learned, from one of the country’s top art fairs.
By Davi Napoleon, ’66, MA’68


Read time: 4 minutes

On July 18, the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair kicks off with approximately 400,000 visitors attending the four-day event and eager to peruse and purchase art. U-M alumni are among the nearly 1,000 artists exhibiting their works. Michigan Alumnus recently caught up with a handful of them to find out what they love, and have learned, as participants in one of the country’s top art fairs.

MangelsDavid Mangels, ’95, Photographer

“My work celebrates the edges of the natural world and the beauty of impermanence.”


Fun fact: He first attended the Art Fair at age 4.

Where you’ll find him: Booth ST560 on State Street

What he loves: The kids.

“Kids get the work intuitively, and they’re no-holds-barred honest about it. That sort of communication is priceless. I’ll get down on my knees, eye to eye, and say, ‘I have a job for you. I want to know your favorite image in my booth,’ and they will go tearing around like a shot of Northern lights.”

What he’s learned: It’s tiring.

“It is a genuine marathon. You have to take care of yourself. A lot of the artists are in there before it opens and after it closes, and we’re walking and talking the whole time.”

Dylan Strzynski Dylan Strzynski, ’01, Mixed Media

“Focusing on landscape and vernacular architecture, (my) work addresses concerns about the environment and poverty by telling stories characterized by mystery and subtle humor.”


Fun fact: He is working on a documentary about artists who make their living by exhibiting at street fairs.

Where you’ll find him: Booth NU827 on North University Avenue

What he loves: The street crowd.

“At certain galleries, you get exposed to a segment of the art-consuming population that you’re not seeing on the street. The street shows are about people getting to know the artist and the artist getting to know them. When they leave, they feel they’re walking away with a piece of you.”

What he’s learned: It’s unique.

“It’s totally different from the other fairs. It’s huge. It’s four fairs at the same time. It’s more of a circus.”

Helen Gotlib

Helen Gotlib, ’03, Mixed Media

My primary visual concern has always been an effort to document the subtle, expressive beauty of nature’s patterns and the cycle of life through my explorations of the natural world.”


Fun fact: Her partner is artist Dylan Strzynski (above).

Where you’ll find her: Booth NU825 on North University Avenue

What she loves: The friendships.

“I’ve met a lot of amazing artists from all over the country. When we travel the shows, we stay with them, and during the Ann Arbor Art Fair, they stay with us. It’s like a sleepover with all your friends or going away to summer camp.”

What she’s learned: It’s stormy.

“Sometimes the weather can be scary. You have to make sure you have the right kind of weights and the right kind of tent for heavy rain. It can be really hot. Once, during a tornado warning, everybody had to run into different buildings.”

BioartographyDeb Gumucio, ’71, MPH’75, PhD’86, Co-founder of U-M’s BioArtography Program

BioArtography celebrates the intricate and eye-catching imagery generated by researchers throughout U-M, from medicine to engineering to chemistry, by transforming scientific images into works of art.”


Fun fact: BioArtography started in 2005 when Gumucio sold microscopic images to pay student-conference fees.

Where you’ll find her: Booth EU640 on East University Avenue

What she loves: The reactions.

“We have this ‘Wow!’ response. It’s a beautiful image, and it’s pancreatic cancer. Some say ‘ugh’ and walk away. Others get drawn in.”

What she’s learned: It’s educational.

“It turns out, this is a super way to talk to the public about basic science. We have three to four people at the booth at all times, and at least two are scientists.”

Eva Antebi-LermanEva Antebi-Lerman, ’19, Oil Painter

Through paint and mosaic, I question the boundary between the natural, the surreal, and the abstract.”


Fun fact: This is her first Art Fair.

Where you’ll find her: Booth WA801 on East Washington Street

What she looks forward to: The interactions.

“I’m so excited to have the opportunity to spend time sitting outside with my art and interacting with people about it.”

What she has already learned: It’s work.

“I’ve been more productive than usual.”

Davi Napoleon, ’66, MA’68, is a theater historian and freelance writer. 

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