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7th Annual FestiFools in Ann Arbor

7th Annual FestiFools: Sunday, April 7th
from 4pm to 5pm
Downtown Ann Arbor (Main St., between Washington and William)

Mark Tucker, who teaches art through the Lloyd Hall Scholars Program at the University of Michigan, began his professional artistic career as Art Director for the Michigan Thanksgiving Parade. While in this role, Mark traveled to Europe to learn the fine art of carta pesta (papier-mâché) from esteemed float builders in Viareggio, Italy. If you’re familiar with Superior Concept Monsters, then you may have an inkling of the FestiFools’ vibe.

Inspired by the magnificent, huge, bizarre, politically incorrect, human-powered and fully-animated floats, Mark decided to see if this kind of creative energy could find an audience back home.

In 2006 he teamed up with Shoshana Hurand, a former LHSP student (and then–graduate student), who saw the hands-on creation of public art as a great opportunity for people of different backgrounds to build relationships, learn from one another, and make their voices heard by the world.

Mark and Shoshana set out to turn a whimsical idea into a reality. Starting with a class of 20 non-art majors in Mark’s LHSP “Art in Public Spaces” class, they went to work — welcoming students, community members, and anyone looking for a chance to be creative and meet new people. Ann Arbor City Council Member Margie Teall, Main Street Area Association leads Ellie Serras and Maura Thomson, and Main Street Ventures co-owner Dennis Serras saw the wonderful potential of all this Foolishness and provided FestiFools with the initial support it needed to get off the ground.

On April 1, 2007, FestiFools exploded onto Ann Arbor’s Main Street with enormous papier-mâché creatures, Stomp-like music courtesy of U-M student group GROOVE, and hundreds of participants from across the community. From the 200+ students in Nick Tobier and Holly Hughes’s School of Art & Design classes, to Kelly Quinn’s College of Urban Planning students, to a broad spectrum of community members that donned masks and joined the festivities, FestiFools 2007 achieved its vision of bringing people out into the streets for fun-filled, artistic Foolery.

The event received praise from The Ann Arbor News editorial board. Mayor John Hieftje even presented us with a Golden Paintbrush Award (for excellence in public art) — upon the condition that FestiFools return in 2008 as an annual, Ann Arbor tradition. Now supported by U-M in a permanent, 2500 sq. ft. facility, with 2 LHSP classes devoted to the creation of this unique artistic event, FestiFools is destined to be one of the crown jewels in Ann Arbor’s cultural and artistic offerings for many years to come.