Artists Get Cozy at Franklin’s Art in the Village

Artists Get Cozy at Franklin’s Art in the Village

(Mel Corrigan, Sept. 7, 2018)

Franklin, MI- The Village of Franklin is a cozy community of some three thousand residents nestled in a quiet, wooded area in south Oakland County. Thousands of people gather in downtown Franklin every year on Labor Day to partake in its longstanding festivities. Franklin’s Art in the Village is held from 10-5 in conjunction with the Roundup Family Fair from 10-4, with its annual Labor Day parade at noon. Admission is free to all events.

Meghan of Jewerly by Meghan MacFarland has displayed her jewelry at the art fair for ten years. When asked what brings her back to Franklin each Labor Day, she explained, “Jane takes great care of the artists. She provides snacks and water throughout the day. It’s a beautiful setting. And the community really supports the artists.” Offering rings, earrings and necklaces, some inset with gems, this silversmith hand makes beautiful jewelry at her home in St. Claire Shores.

The “Jane” that Meghan speaks of is Jane Polan, who has organized this invitation affair for about thirteen years. “It is something that I love to do. The artists are very appreciative,” she said. This is the thirty-eighth consecutive year for Franklin Art in the Village.

Artists are welcome to set up their tents the day before the art fair. Jane orders food for everyone, and they enjoy dinner, together. Jane affectionately refers to the vendors as her artists. The artists are cooperative and respectful, and offer kindness not only to fair guests, but also to one another. She thinks of the attendants of Franklin Art in the Village as “talented, eager and pleasant.” And the artists reciprocate her sentiment.

Thomas Gelsanliter of One Acre Ceramics loves that the Franklin art fair is on the grass and well attended, and that Jane invites makers of “high quality art.” “Jane does a great show,” he exclaimed. Thomas is a tile-maker and his wife, Sarah Gelsanliter, is the potter. Together they create beautiful, vibrant-colored hand-crafted pots and tile works at their studio in Milan, Michigan.

Jewelry and ceramics aren’t the only finds at this fine art fair. There’s art for just about everyone: paintings and prints, watercolors, a variety of metal art, blown and fused glass, wooden items from children’s toys to signs to cutting boards and furniture, outdoor art, clothing and more.

This was Jim Leonard’s fourth year at Franklin. He owns and operates Tree Reform of Birmingham, his personal woodworking operation. His display of handmade cutting boards, many crafted from reclaimed wood from local lumber mills, was striking. “I started with cutting boards and now also make furniture, barn doors, islands, tables and benches.” He enjoys making custom pieces.

Franklin’s thirty-eighth art fair boasted nearly eighty-five artisans. Somewhat new to the event was Judy Bowman of JMB Studio in Romulus, who might have been the happiest artist I talked with all day. Oh, and she creates captivating, vibrant paintings of people. Her piece “The Lovers“ will be on display at Art Prize in Grand Rapids at the DeVos Center. She’s been an artist all her life, but took a thirty-year hiatus to raise her children and “do life”. After retiring from her education career, she began painting once again. This was her second time selling at Franklin Art in the Village, and she was elated that she sold several pieces and received great feedback from the attendees.

Heidi and Paul Barron of Barron Glass Design in Ada are glass artists who use fusing and slumping techniques for most of their pieces. Heidi has been making her art for thirty-three years, and Paul joined her about five years ago after retiring from his former business. This was their fourth year at Franklin Art in the Village. Paul enjoys that it’s more casual and laid back than bustling city fairs. And he appreciates that the event is well attended.

The great turnout is a function of both the art fair and Roundup’s long history in Franklin and Jane Polan’s efforts to market the event. She provides free post cards and posters to the artists, which enables the artists to remind their past clients about Art in the Village. Prior to the event, coverage appears in The Detroit News’ Welcome Mat, Franklin’s local Eagle, as well as paid publications such as the Michigan Art Guide.

For more information about Franklin Art in the Village, contact Jane Polan at

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