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Art-A-Whirl 2010 -- the cheat sheet

Underwater photograph by Rhea Pappas featured at the Icebox Gallery, Northrup King Building.
Courtesy of the artist
Underwater photograph by Rhea Pappas

Every year, the Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association (NEMAA) pulls out all the stops for Art-A-Whirl, the largest open studio and gallery tour in the country. More than 500 artists will participate in the three-day festival this year, showing new work in every conceivable medium: glass, fiber art, painting, photography, sculpture, craft, mosaics, mixed media, jewelry, fashion design — you name it. And thousands upon thousands of visitors will descend upon the arts-rich Minneapolis neighborhood, as they do every year, to take it all in this weekend.

But let's be honest: Between the vast array of open studios, exhibitions, special events, parties and performances, Art-A-Whirl's profusion of offerings is more than a little overwhelming. Even the most dedicated gallery-hopper can't hope to take it all in over the course of a single weekend. What you need is a cheat sheet to the festival's hotspots — think of the following as a handy sampler from which to launch your Art-A-Whirling explorations through Northeast Minneapolis' arts district.

"Beneath the Surface," photographer Rhea Pappas' new exhibition at Icebox Gallery in the Northrup King Building, is well worth a stop. Pappas may be just starting out, but her mellifluous underwater photography has already garnered a fair amount of critical notice. (Check out the recent segment on Pappas' work, featured on TPT's new local arts show, "MN Original," for more information about this artist's striking images.)

"Beneath the Surface: Rhea Pappas" will be on view at the Icebox Gallery (Northrup King Building, #443) throughout Art-A-Whirl; the opening reception for the show is Saturday, May 15, 8 p.m. to midnight.

Collage by Isa Newby Gagarin
Courtesy of Location Books
Collage by Isa Newby Gagarin

Artist Ruben Nusz must be a restless sort. Fresh on the heels of his yearlong foray with the popular artist-run SELLOUT gallery, Nusz, along with artist Scott Nedrelow, is already in the midst of a new venture, marrying visual art with publishing. This weekend, the pair are launching Location Books, a quarterly series of limited edition artists' books, each of which will focus on new work by a single, emerging artist. The first installment, featuring collages by Isa Newby Gagarin created especially for this project, will be released during Art-A-Whirl, with a book signing and launch party.

Location Books' celebrates its debut issue with a party and book signing  at 1618 Central Ave NE, Suite 227 (above Diamonds Coffee), Saturday, May 15, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Studio-mates Anna Tsantir, Nick Howard, and Vincent Murray invited 30 local artists each to make several small, two-dimensional pieces; these works — prints, drawings, and mixed media — have been combined to cover one large (22-foot by 10-foot) studio wall, from floor to ceiling. The effect of putting all these disparate pieces together, cheek by jowl, is sure to make for an intriguing patchwork; this "wallpaper project" promises to be an interesting play on the idea of collaborative art-making, and on the tension between art and decoration. The participating artists are an eclectic but accomplished bunch, including Terrence Payne of Rosalux Gallery, Dan Ibarra of Aesthetic Apparatus, David Peterson of Art of This gallery, Crystal Quinn of Hardland/Heartland, Jessica Seamans of Landland, Drew Peterson, and Dan Luedtke (aka Danimal) of Graffix and Gaybeast.

"Flocked: A Wallpaper Project," poster design by Jessica Seamans
Casket Arts' Carriage House, #203
"Flocked: A Wallpaper Project," poster design by Jessica Seamans

"Flocked: A Wallpaper Project" will be on view at Casket Arts' Carriage House (#203) throughout Art-A-Whirl; the opening reception is scheduled for Friday, May 14, from 8 to 11 p.m.

If you have the kids in tow as you make the rounds, head over to Johnson Street for the 8th Annual "Johnstock"; there you'll find a host of irresistible indie craft vendors, kids' activities, and loads of live performances by local musicians all weekend long, plus a Friday night parking lot screening of "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," followed by a talent show on Sunday afternoon. 

You'll find yet more family-friendly art happenings at "Under the Vic Chimney,"  presented by the Historic Thorp Building & CBC. The weekend's highlights include pedal-powered spin art by Forecast Public Art, a "sampler" from the Soap Factory, and exhibits from Bethel University's galleries and Northern Lights' "Art(ists) on the Verge," as well as live music, a fashion show by Red Shoe Clothing Co., and outdoor projection art by Minneapolis Art on Wheels.

"The Slow Mirror and the Metronome" by Ted Salzman
Courtesy of Creative Electric Studios
"The Slow Mirror and the Metronome" by Ted Salzman

For more grown-up fare, swing by Creative Electric Studio's riverfront exhibition (just behind the Sample Room), "The Slow Mirror and the Metronome" — a mélange of sound, light, and installation geared "to create an environment that reroutes and harnesses" the reflective surface and acoustic potential of the Mississippi. The show will feature bands playing from boats (among them Zak Sally, STNNG, Bella Koshka, and Mayda), floating art installations, video projections and sound collages broadcast from speakers adrift on the river. Performances begin nightly, throughout Art-A-Whirl, at 8 p.m. 

Also of note:
As you make your way through the California Building, don't miss Aldo Moroni's "Artful Art Party Art Garden Art Thing" (aka his "top secret art cave"); then be sure to head upstairs to artist Amy Rice's new studio on the 6th floor, and check out her lovely, nostalgic prints and mixed media pieces.

I've also got my eye on Rogue Buddha Gallery's new show, "Science and Wonder,"  which pairs surreal, impeccably rendered paintings and collage by Caitlin Karolczak with wonderfully strange sculptural contraptions by Michael Thomsen.

While you're in the neighborhood, stop by Conduit Gallery to see the kinetic marvels of "Questioning the Machine: Sculpture by Jack F.X. Pavlik." Then pop over to Fox Tax for "The Age of Aquarius," an exhibition by three young Twin Cities artists -- Jesse Draxler, Katelyn Farstad and Josh Journey-Heinz — all of whose work is marked by a shared affinity for the local music scene and an irrepressible DIY ethos.

"Art-A-Whirl" Studio and Gallery Tour, presented by the Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association, takes place Friday, May 14 (5 p.m. to 10 p.m.), Saturday, May 15, (noon to 8 p.m.), and Sunday, May 16, (noon to 5 p.m.). Free trolley rides will be available to and from designated AAW locations Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Find a map of participating venues here For a full line-up of special Art-A-Whirl events, click here.

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Comments (1)

Thanks for the cheat sheet (at last, an attack plan!). Got all excited about Art-A-Whirl today when at the office my colleague chose to write his blog entry not about advertising or research (we work at Campbell Mithun), but about what we as marketers can learn from our very own local artists. He gives great play to Art-A-Whirl; check out the link: http://bit.ly/bpUltJ