There's about 2,300 miles of driving between West Hollywood, CA, and Wyandotte, MI.
The distance, however, does not keep California artist Karen Kennedy from making the trip in her Ford van to sell at the . The Michigan native will be back in town next week selling personalized chalk boxes for kids at her 11th consecutive Wyandotte art fair.
“Wyandotte is a great show that you can always count on,” Kennedy said. “The show is always a good (event), no matter what.”
Living in West Hollywood also gives her the distinction of being the artist in this year's show who lives the farthest from Wyandotte.
The children’s chalk boxes that Kennedy sells are small, wood cases with a chalkboard on one side and dry erase board on the other. The box slides open, allowing chalk, markers or other supplies to be stored inside and carried.
On the spot in her booth, she hand paints the child’s name and a design on the box. Balloons, flowers and dinosaurs are some of the designs children can choose.
Size and convenience of the chalk boxes, Kennedy said, gives kids an instant activity to do nearly anywhere.
“The parents love it for the car or restaurant,” Kennedy said. “This is a great travel box for kids.”
Kennedy was born in Detroit and grew up in Milford. She moved to California in 1982 to start an acting career.
While there, she met members of the local art community and was eventually inspired to become a full-time artist herself.
“It was then that I decided to follow my true calling in life,” Kennedy said.
She began her art career in 1996, she said, and became a traveling artist in 1998.
Since then, Kennedy said she spends six straight months each year traveling across the U.S., selling her creations at art shows throughout the nation.
While she enjoys art in every medium and occasionally sells paintings, Kennedy said, the chalk boxes have been her primary focus.
“I love doing things for kids,” she said. “I love to see the smile on their faces when they come to my booth. I put my heart and soul into painting every name and design that I do.”
Although Kennedy is a former Michigan resident, she said she was unaware of the Wyandotte show until the late 1990s
Wyandotte has now become one of her favorite stops on her yearly six-month journey, Kennedy said.
The fair’s family atmosphere, along with passionate and appreciative customers, is what she said makes Wyandotte stand out.
“The town is nice,” Kennedy said. “The people are always excited to see what’s there. It’s a very enthusiastic crowd of shoppers.”