I first heard of Julie Beyer when she was the featured artist at the Ann Arbor Street Fair. Every summer, four art fairs are held in Ann Arbor at the same time. They attract more than 500,000 people.
The Ann Arbor Street Fair is the original of the four fairs and has often been named as the top art fair in the country. When I heard that the featured artist at this fair lived a few blocks from my home, I had to visit.
At that time, Julie painted in a studio in her basement.
During that first visit, I asked Julie about the beginning of her art career.
“My first artwork was painted to fill an empty wall in my house. A local interior decorator saw it and asked me to make paintings for some of her clients.
“I applied to enter the Ann Arbor Street Fair without really understanding how prestigious it was. It was the only art fair I had ever attended. I still can’t believe I not only was accepted, but was chosen the featured artist”
By the time of my second visit, Julie had moved onto a new space – an industrial building filled with other artists. I climbed the stairs to the third floor.
Julie’s new studio is large and filled with light. It couldn’t be more different from her basement work space.
I asked about how the new studio affected her work.
“I love leaving the house and driving to my workplace. It makes it seem like my art is a real job. And I love my interactions with the other artists in the building. But I miss having my kids around to see the paintings I’m working on and hearing their suggestions.”
I asked about the photos on one wall of the studio.
“These are old photos of my family members. The emotions these photos create in me come out in my work, and sometimes parts of the actual photos are used. I sometimes enlarge them, cut them out and paste them into paintings. When I use eyes, I know whose eyes they were.”
I asked Julie why she continued to sell at art fairs.
“Art fairs are a lot of work, but I love them. I love meeting people and talking to them about my art, and I especially like it when people send me back photos that show my paintings in their homes.
“This summer I will be at the Columbus Arts Festival, my first art fair in Ohio. I will be able to drive home each evening instead of spending the night in a hotel. That will be nice.”
As she pasted pieces of paper, Julie walked me through her work process. Her beginning “canvas” is either made of masonite or birch. She pastes bits of paper to that surface and then paints over much of it. When that surface is dry she draws on it with chalk. The chalk outlines are then filled in with paint or by pasting additional bits of paper or cloth.
Some of the components have a special meaning to Julie. The photo of the clock in the upper left hand corner of this piece was taken just after her son left for college.
I told Julie I loved the colors on her apron. She posed and let me get this photo.
As I got ready to leave Julie got back to work, combining bits of papers, paints, photos and fabrics into a story she will share with others.