Posted by: Kath Usitalo | July 16, 2010

Art Is In The Air

I love the detail of the eyes and the windswept beard of this figure carved by Pete DeDecker

The summer celebration of the arts is in full swing, with music filling the air from Detroit to Marquette and 10’x10′ tents sheltering handmade jewelry and ceramic pots in Alpena, Petoskey, and points beyond.

The Concert of Colors kicks off in Detroit this evening and showcases a variety of talent through the weekend at the Detroit Institute of Arts and inside and out at the Max M. Fisher Music Center. I’ve not attended this event—it’s on the same weekend as the Michigan Jazz Festival and I usually head there if I’m in town. It’s a free, day-long, non-stop, indoor/outdoor series of great performances at Schoolcraft College in Livonia.

Once again, I’m in the 313 instead of at the Aura Jamboree, a celebration of folk music in the little UP town near L’Anse and Baraga today and tomorrow. It’s also the weekend of the Hiawatha Traditional Music Festival in Marquette.

It was fun to chat with Pete and Barb DeDecker about their creations

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I like to buy pottery at art fairs, but last summer at the Antique Boat Show & Festival of Arts in Hessel I was really drawn to the carved wood figures by self-taught artist Pete DeDecker.

He finds faces in driftwood, branches, roots and other pieces of trees, and his wife Barb creates beautiful baskets. The couple from Hastings exhibits at a handful of art fairs including the Richland Art Fair tomorrow, July 17 (near Kalamazoo).

They’ll also show at the Island Art Fair August 7 in Grand Ledge and at the Boat Show in Hessel August 14.

Their Flattail Creek Studio doesn’t have a website (“Our kids keep telling us we need one, but we don’t want to be that busy,” laughs Barb), but you can read about them at the Crane Fest website (note that the DeDecker’s correct phone number is 269-945-5917).

Santa interpreted by Pete DeDecker

I enjoyed chatting with them at the Hessel show; one thing I really like about the smaller, more laid back shows is that the artists have time to tell you about their work.

At the other end of the spectrum are the Ann Arbor Art Fairs, four separate events that morph into one sprawling display of artistic ability, Wednesday-Saturday, July 21-24.

A half-million people will shuffle past 1,000+ booths packed with the creations of artists from all over the country. Some of the fair-goers will even buy something.

It’s so overwhelming an event that we don’t go every year; seems we only make the trek when the temperature tops 90 degrees and the sun is beating down mercilessly.

I’ll have to check the weather forecast to see if it says “art fair” to me.

For more art fairs across the state go to and search art fairs.

A basket by Barb DeDecker



  1. I didn’t make it to the Aura Jamboree this year though it’s one of my most favorite parts of summer…..they had two gorgeous days for it and I hear that it was packed! I actually used to emcee there for an hour or so – never quite sure what possessed Bob, one of the organizers/musicians, to give my a microphone and let me loose on stage but it was always great fun! 🙂

    • I’m sure he had his reasons for handing you the mic 😉
      Maybe next year I’ll finally make it!

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