Get Art-A-Whirled

Full disclosure time: I don’t just play an arts writer in a magazine, I’m foolish enough to practice what I preach. I share a studio in the Northrup King Building in northeast Minneapolis, showing photography, and this weekend Art-A-Whirl–the neighborhood’s multi-building open studio tour–will sweep through, bringing thousands of browsers, buyers (one hopes), and dudes who just want to drink our beer (sorry, that’ll be a buck). But even if I wasn’t on the tour, I couldn’t imagine why any local arts fan would want to be anywhere else this weekend, at least for a few hours, soaking up 500 artists’ work in what’s arguably the largest artist enclave in a four-state area (no, I’m not counting the Amish colonies).

Here, some frequently asked questions:

Where should I go? Well, if you’ve done the tour before, go somewhere you haven’t been before. Among the newer additions is the Casket Arts Building on Central Ave (yes, they used to make caskets here, now they make cool, funky art). They’ve also had a massive after-hours party on the Saturday, if you’re into that kind of thing. If you’ve been to the big buildings before, tour a bunch of the smaller ones, which often have some of the edgiest, most “real” art (Quincy Street Studios, Grain Belt brewery building–yes, these are all marked on the map). But if  you’re just starting out, and don’t want to drive around, there’s no doubt that the Northrup King Building is ground zero for the Whirl.

Will there be entertainment? More and more, and not just the occasional rambling accordionist. See this lengthy list of special events, including band performances, dance, etc. Among the most interesting are the DJ, speed-painting by JAO, and exhibit curated by Yuri Arajs–the most exciting curator of local art in town–featuring many of his greatest featured artists over the years, such as Amy Rice, Doug Padilla, Jennifer Davis, and more. That’s in the Thorpe Building Friday from 6 to 10. Then there’s Captain Yonder performing in studio 404 of Northrup on Friday from 6 to 8. The Xelias Aerial Arts Studio (near Northrup) has ticketed performances on Friday at 8 pm of its highflying aerial dance. And yes, that’s just Friday.

What are the hours? Friday 5 – 10 pm, Saturday 12-8 pm, Sunday 12-5 pm

Will I be uncomfortable walking into people’s studios? Are you uncomfortable walking in galleries? It’s like that, only with better snacks.

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