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Art-A-Whirl is this weekend in NE Minneapolis

One of the biggest Twin Cities arts events of the season is upon us this weekend. Even merely casual arts lovers come out of the woodwork for Art-A-Whirl.

One of the biggest Twin Cities arts events of the season is upon us this weekend. Even merely casual arts lovers come out of the woodwork for Art-A-Whirl. The vibrant creative community of Northeast Minneapolis — a neighborhood that’s home to a slew of studio complexes like Northrup King, the California Building, the Q.arma Building, and the Grain Belt Bottling House, not to mention hundreds upon hundreds of resident artists — will open its doors to the public in a celebration of homegrown art of all stripes.

Festivities for this year’s studio tour will include a bevy of receptions, art sales, and gallery openings, not to mention loads of live music and themed parties. (Click here for a full schedule of special AAW events.) Even the most dedicated visitor can’t see it all, so I’ll give you a rundown of highlights on my own itinerary for the days to come.

“Gallery Grooves,” Art-A-Whirl edition: To kick off the festival on Friday night, Secrets of the City and Jazz88 are joining forces with the Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association (NEMAA) and the Mpls Photo Center for a swanky evening of art and music. See the Mpls Photo Center’s pinhole photography exhibit and bid on work by NEMAA artists in a silent auction, against the backdrop of live music by folk-pop group Bla Bla Blacksheep and local jazz great, Robert Bell. “Gallery Grooves” is Friday, May 15 at the Mpls Photo Center from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public.

SELLOUT Gallery grand-opening This brand-new, artist-run, “anti-pretentious” conceptual gallery space is launching with an exhibition of new work by gallery founders Ruben Nusz, Scott Stulen and John Fleischer. (Full disclosure: I work with two of these artists, so this particular AAW event looms especially large on my radar.) SELLOUT Gallery, in Studio #456 of the Northrup King Building, will be open all weekend; the opening reception for the gallery’s debut exhibition is Friday night, from 7 to 10 p.m.

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“Don’t Sleep On It!” A 24-Hour Art-making Marathon: The Walker Art Center Teen Art Council has enlisted some of the scene’s best and brightest to team up, in alternating shifts, with young artists to transform a California Building studio with their made-on-site creations. Featured local artists include: Hardland/Heartland, Liz Miller, Kristina Mooney, Chris Pennington, Erik Burke, Mike Fitzsimmons, Scott Stulen, Andy Ducett, Brett Smith, Erin Smith, and John Grider. The artist teams will work to the live music stylings of BRLSQOTHEQUE. The “Don’t Sleep On It!” Marathon will take place from 6 p.m. Friday, May 15 to 6 p.m., Saturday, May 16 (closing party will be at 8 p.m.). Young artists from the community are invited to stop by anytime to join in on the art-making. (A schedule of events and the necessary waiver forms required to participate are on the WACTAC website.)

Creative Electric’s SS Infinite Regress: This NE Mpls Gallery is reprising last year’s smash, an interactive gallery-cum-houseboat on the Mississippi River. For a $5 donation, visitors will get a hazmat suit and an invitation to hop on board to become part of this whimsically high-concept, floating exhibition with a survivalist theme. Both evenings, activities on the SS Infinite Regress will be accompanied by music from noted local bands stationed on a free-floating river raft nearby. Creative Electric’s gallery/houseboat will be docked Friday and Saturday behind the Sample Room at 2124 Marshall Street; festivities will get underway Friday night at dusk and throughout Saturday.

And here are just a few more notable exhibition openings:

“More is a Four Letter Word” @ Fox Tax Gallery — artistic riffs on hunger of all kinds by Minnesota artists Tynan Kerr & Andie Mazorol, Zach Pearl, Alex Kuno, and Garrett Perry (curated by’s Emma Berg).

“Dreamwhirl” @ Gallery 122 at Hang It – fanciful, otherworldy creations by Minneapolis artist Jennifer Davis, Iowa painter Chris Vance and Wisconsin fiber artist Amy Arnold.

“Art-A-Whirl at the Grainbelt” @ the Historic Grain Belt Bottling House – the artists of the Grain Belt Collective and the Artspace Projects are hosting a multimedia exhibition of visual art, music, video, and performance all weekend, with a special reception Friday night, May 15, from 5 p.m. to midnight.

Art-A-Whirl, an annual open studio tour in Northeast Minneapolis, runs all this weekend: Friday, May 15 (5 p.m. to 10 p.m.), Saturday, May 16 (noon to 8 p.m.), and Sunday (noon to 5 p.m.)