Savvy Mom: How to Art-a-Whirl with Kids

Art-a-Whirl, the biggest artists’ open studio tour in the country, takes place throughout Northeast Minneapolis this weekend, Friday May 16 through Sunday May 18, 2014.

Truthfully? One of the best ways to Art-a-Whirl with kids is to get a sitter and leave them at home, especially when they’re little. Little kids, big crowds, lots of things for them to not touch, while you peruse the crazy bounty of art in Northeast Minneapolis? That’s not playing to their strengths. But I’m here to tell you, it can be done and it can be fun, plus it gets better year by year along with their impulse control.

First, keep it simple. Art-a-Whirl goes from Friday to Sunday, so you have three whole days to play. For younger kids, do fewer stops and shorter visits. With really young kids, consider a front or back carrier rather than a stroller. This will give the little one a better view of the art plus make it easier for you to navigate the crowds, as some of the older buildings have very slow elevators.

Second, plan where to go. The Northeast Minneapolis Art Associations (NEMAA) website has a map, FAQ, and a guide on How to Whirl that includes a list of family-friendly studios. There’s also a list of family-friendly activities and events. If you only visit one spot this weekend, I recommend the Casket Arts Building. It has many kid-friendly artists, but isn’t so big that it’s overwhelming. Three of my favorite Casket Arts studios are Quench Jewelry Arts, Inside the Robot (Linnea is flying back for her last Art-a-Whirl!) and Lauren Strom.

Third: food and drink. It’s hard to ogle the art if someone is whining they’re hungry or thirsty. Bring refillable bottles and top them up for free at the Tap Minneapolis stations at Broadway Ave. & Quincy St. NE, and 13th Avenue & Marshall Street. 612 Brewery will have live music and food trucks. The Anchor Fish and Chips truck will be in its parking lot with live music. 13th Avenue is a great hub to visit. The Anchor is next door to Maeve’s Cafe and near the Kid’s Stop and Live Music at New City School. Walk a little farther and you can check out the bikes at Behind Bars, books at locally owned Eat My Words bookstore, and get soda homemade from Malone’s Simple Syrups on tap at Dangerous Man.

Wherever you go, with or without your kids, happy whirling!

NEMAA Art-a-Whirl 2014

Casket Arts Building
1720 17th Ave. NE

Quench Jewelry Arts
Studio 100, Casket Arts Building
Entrance: 1707 Jefferson St. NE

Lauren Strom
Studio 314, Casket Arts Building

Inside the Robot/Linnea M. Doyle
Studio 316, Casket Arts Building

Tap Minneapolis

612 Brewery
945 Broadway St. NE

Anchor Fish and Chips
302 13th Ave. NE

Maeve’s Cafe
300 13th Ave. NE

New City School Kids’ Stop and Live Music
229 13th Ave. NE

Behind Bars Bicycle Shop
208 13th Ave. NE

Eat My Words Bookstore
1228 2nd St. NE

Dangerous Man Brewing Co.
1300 2nd St. NE

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