For one who grumbled “don’t call it Art-A-Whirl if it’s not in person,” encounters on May 14 and 15 renewed my spirit and opened eyes to new possibilities. While the Northeast arts landscape is too wide and varied to make sweeping proclamations, people at the places I went were SO happy to see humans, and some remarked that sales were up per capita.
Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association mostly supported online stores, experiencing 26,000 visits during Art-A-Whirl week, 34,000 in May as of May 25, according to Executive Director Anna Becker. Individuals and building owners could choose to open and comply with health regulations discouraging crowding, or go strictly online.
I was too tired to go out on the third day, Sunday, May 16. I also missed the Elias Metal Studio live music – I’ve never attended, and with less going on, I thought maybe I would this year.
Later, I heard that some occupants of buildings whose owners chose not to accommodate being open, were disgruntled. As a former organizer of Art-A-Whirl (2000-2002) I tend to look at these occasions from a planner’s perspective. In fact, I cancelled a spring event that I typically organize, in both 2020 and 2021 because of the pandemic. It’s impossible to please everybody, and even in good times, there is so much that can’t be anticipated or controlled.
One person’s foray
My first intentional stop, on Friday night: Studio 285 in Northrup King Building, visiting the cohort of artists, many of whom started out in Studio 400. (I poked my head in at Studio 400 also, before they were set up for visitors.) With mentors and space subsidy from Public Functionary, this was a first Art-A-Whirl in-person for some.
Avery Weiler, fresh out of art school in Milwaukee, painted with oils. He worked in acrylic before, and finds oils blend more smoothly and stay wet longer, much easier to work with. Conscious of my camera, he mused on photography as a tool, interested in learning to use the camera to play with light and other factors to make pictures beyond the representational.
Maiya Lea Hartman incorporates textures into her paintings through textiles and in many cases, braiding hair. She has been experimenting with using braided hair to make traditional Adinkra symbols.
While not all studios opened, Northrup King Building asked visitors to register and enter during a set time frame, and could stay as long as they wanted. Those keeping count of the ins and outs at the door said there was a steady population of about 800 guests each hour for most of the time Saturday, and never more than 925.
At dusk Friday, a band played at the Casket Arts quad outside the NE Sculpture | Gallery Factory featuring Coral Penelope Lambert. She posed by the iron remains of her Starry Starry Night performance during the Festival of Fire at Salem Artworks in 2019.
[Alex Schlee’s account of Sarah Hanson’s Mobile Metal Lab tribute to Lambert, her mentor, is on page 9 of the June 2 Northeaster.]
Hossle Woodworks has moved to the California Building #123, with an outside entrance next to the loading dock. A sweet little showroom helps visualize mid-century-esque furniture and fixtures in use. Beatrice Owen purchased a mail-able gift and received care instructions from owner Justin Hossle.
Flux Arts Building’s new sign went up just in time for Art-A-Whirl weekend [photo courtesy of Josh Blanc]. I visit Clay Squared here often, but it was all new to my guest.
Back at Northrup King building, Steve Hemingway rang up an “adoption,” a crow, for Helena Howard of south Minneapolis. She said she doesn’t remember how she first heard of Art-A-Whirl, but has been coming for many years.
T Young tends to sell her more expensive works in ways other than Art-A-Whirl, with Instagram the medium of choice. “The people who want to be here, are here,” she remarked of the 2021 Art-A-Whirl audience, clearly enjoying conversing. During the pandemic, “we were still producing work, and it’s nice that [visitors] see what we are doing.” She enjoys the support of being in an artist community, and “love(s) Artspace. Glad that they bought the [Northrup King] building. It’s the first time I feel I have a home, in 35 years” as an artist.
The open window at studio 425, where the sign invites people in to enjoy the view toward downtown.
Clever marketing at AMF Gallery, one of the newest in Northrup King Building. It’s at the south end of first floor, across from Goldenflow and Studios @Chataqua Lane.
Amanda Pearson makes her art with hundreds of subtly different colors of embroidery thread, cut and glued onto a substrate. She’s at Studios @ Chataqua Lane.
Lynnea Schweiters is one of four ceramic artists of very different processes who share a gallery space at 170 Northrup King Building. The anemone is one of her new patterns; she works in high-fire porcelain and studied and showed with Ernest Miller for many years.
Art Cars honked down 13th Avenue Saturday morning. Not sure if they were just passing through, or where they ended up. Northeast surely was the place to be in mid-May!
Below: Avery Weiler. Maiya Lea Hartman at Studio 285. Coral Lambert. Hossle Woodworks. Flux Arts building sign. Steve Hemingway sells. T Young. Window at 425 NKB. Sign at AMF Gallery. Amanda Pearson embroidery. Lynnea Schweiters. Art Car. (Photos by Margo Ashmore)