The artists of Art-A-Whirl are expectant—the temperature has finally bumped up, but not so much that you’re going to laze outside in the lawn chair. Maybe just drive over to Art-A-Whirl, the Midwest’s largest studio art crawl, in Northeast Minneapolis, which opens tonight at 5 p.m. and runs through Sunday at 5 pm. They’re expecting you.
Here’s what you can expect: More than 500 artists throwing open their studios to showcase their pottery, photography, jewelry, glass-making, painting, T-shirts, cards, stationary, clothing, sculpture. If it can be made, someone’s made it. And frankly, your two best reasons to go are either to buy gifts or because you’d prefer to have local art, made by someone you’ve met, in your home. And that includes so-called functional art—Art-A-Whirl is full of artists making vases, cups, plates, bowls, rugs, etc.
So where do you go? Check out the listing of buildings here. If you haven’t done Art-A-Whirl before or just want the most bang for your visit, head to the Northrup King Building, which has about a third of all the artists within its myriad corridors. (Full disclosure: I show photography, alongside the work of my studiomates, on the fourth floor.)
Another popular choice is the California Building, which seems to add more and more artists. Tonight, Studio 600 (on the sixth floor there) is hosting an opening-night party, showcasing the award-winning work of abstract painter Kevin Fitze and photographers Gregory Burt and Mary Lucic with downbeat and house music along with free beer, wine, and appetizers.
The after-hours party these days is generally at the Casket Arts Building (yes, caskets were, until recently, manufactured there), the upstart of Art-A-Whirl, if you’re feeling young, hip, and artsy enough. This is also where, on Saturday from 12 to 2:30 p.m., the self-described SuperGroup of dance-theatre artists will be improvising for the entire 2.5 hours in the second-floor lobby. You’ll find such unexpected experiences—musical, dance, what-have-you—popping up all over during Art-A-Whirl so head somewhere, see what you find, and keep moving until you find what you’re looking for.