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Art is an important economic driver for any city, big or small. By attracting people to the community and engaging them through an exhibit or festival, it then stimulates business at nearby shops and restaurants. And, of course, it provokes conversation, asks questions, and gives one something to think about.

It was with all of these factors in mind that spurred POP-X, a new 10-day festival in Ann Arbor from October 15th through 24th. Presented by the Ann Arbor Art Center, with support from the Ann Arbor Community Foundation, the outdoor exhibition of contemporary art features nine 100-square-foot pop-up art pavilions in Liberty Plaza Park. Omari Rush, POP-X Project Director, describes the structures as similar to tiny houses. Each structure houses an exhibition by an artist or art collective, and outside of the pavilions in the park will be “programs to animate the space and attract certain audiences at key times.”

The insides of the pavilions, according to Rush, “very much feel like an art gallery. You walk around, you experience some things, you touch some things, it’s an immersive experience.” The pavilions will be open daily from 10am until 8pm, with the majority of the artists on site during that time. 

Of the different community events planned throughout the festival, Rush says that many are community based, while others are targeted to those in the cultural community. With the exception of opening night, all are free to attend.

“The ways that the entrepreneurial community, the business, and innovator communities can benefit from the arts, and exploring the ways the arts move forward an economy or community,” was paramount for showing Ann Arbor restaurants and other businesses how the arts will benefit them. Rush notes that it was also an important component from the perspective of the Ann Arbor Art Center, who, celebrating 105 years as a local art space, is looking towards the future and how they can stay relevant. 

POP-X Schedule

  • Collector’s Preview: Private Tours and Special Dinner, October 14, 5:30-9pm, Liberty Plaza Park

  • Opening Day Drop-In Workshop: Painting Butterflies, October 15, All Day, Liberty Plaza Park

  • Pop-Up Theater with Neighborhood Theatre Group, October 16, 5:30-7pm, Liberty Plaza Park

  • Pop-Up Picnics with Local “Celebrity” Mystery Guests, October 18, 3-5pm, Liberty Plaza Park

  • Art for Innovators: Workspace Design, October 19, 12-1pm, Ann Arbor District Library Downtown

  • Art for Innovators: Design Thinking, October 20, 12-1pm, Ann Arbor District Library Downtown

  • Back to the Future Day, October 21, 10am-9pm, Liberty Plaza Park

  • POP-X Artist Talks: Part II Nerd Nite, October 21, 7pm,

  • Art for Innovators: The Creative Industries and Cultural Economic Development, October 22, 12-1pm, Ann Arbor District Library

  • Regional Meet-Up: Emerging Arts Leaders, October 23, 1-4pm, Ann Arbor Art Center

  • Family Drop-In: Cardboard Challenge, October 24, 10am-1pm, Liberty Plaza Park

  • POP-X Closing Party and 93rd Annual All Media Exhibition Opening Party, October 24, 6-9pm, Ann Arbor Art Center
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