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An art festival triple-header: Loring Park, Uptown, Powderhorn Park

Arts lovers will be heading out to Minneapolis parks and streets in droves this weekend, eager to take in the sunshine while browsing through the wares of artists at the Loring Park Art Festival, the Uptown Art Fair and the Powderhorn Art Fair.

Arts lovers will be heading out to Minneapolis parks and streets in droves this weekend, eager to take in the sunshine while browsing through the wares of all manner of regional artists and craftspeople. There are three huge juried art festivals happening this weekend — the Loring Park Art Festival, the Uptown Art Fair, and the Powderhorn Art Fair — and the city of Minneapolis wants you to see them all. As it has in previous years, Metro Transit will be providing a free shuttle  between the festivals all weekend long, so you can take it all in, hassle-free.

Here’s the skinny on each of this weekend’s outdoor art festivals:

Uptown Art Fair,  Aug. 7-9: Uptown’s annual art festival is a slick, big-ticket affair with a national reputation. It’s loaded with high-buck corporate sponsorship and live performances, and it draws hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. (The Uptown Art Fair website touts its standing as one of the most well-attended festivals in Minnesota, second only to the Minnesota State Fair.)

At the center of it all is a huge, highly competitive juried art fair with glass, ceramics, painting, photography, textiles, sculpture, printmaking, jewelry, woodcarving and multimedia work by 355 artists who hail from around the world. All this hoopla is big business, too: Organizers expect artists to sell upwards of $2.5 million worth of art at this weekend’s festival. For visitors, there are lots of food and drink options, nonstop live music on the performance stage, kid-friendly events and workshops at the Family Imagination Station — and, of course, a cornucopia of art and craft.

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TIME/PLACE: Friday, noon to 8:30 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Uptown Art Fair is located at the intersection of Lake Street and Hennepin Avenue and along “The Mall” in Minneapolis.

Loring Park Art Festival, Aug. 8-9: The Loring Park Art Festival is also a significant art fair, if more modest in size and scope than Uptown’s over-the-top extravaganza. This festival’s history and mission are more directly focused on providing support and exhibition opportunities for artists. In fact, the Loring Park Art Festival was founded in 2000 by three area artists explicitly concerned with creating an art fair “by artists, for artists.”

That’s not to say fairgoers won’t find ample opportunities for diversions alongside the artist booths: In addition to artwork and fine craft in every conceivable medium by 140 visual artists, visitors will be entertained by strolling musicians, stage performances, children’s activities and food booths. The artwork included in the Loring Park Art Festival is the result of a competitive, juried selection process, so the level of craftsmanship and technical skill in the diverse array of work on view is consistently high; you may also find more affordable art options in this festival than you would in other fairs — the organizers are committed to cultivating an interest in art collecting among folks at all income levels.

TIME/PLACE: Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Loring Park Art Festival is located near Oak Grove Street and Hennepin Avenue in Loring Park, across Hennepin from the Walker Art Center’s Sculpture Garden.

Powderhorn Art Fair, Aug. 8-9: If Loring Park’s art festival is all about the artists, then Powderhorn’s annual shindig is the people’s art fair. This annual festival, ensconced in the picturesque acreage of Powderhorn Park, has all the shaggy charm and unpretentious welcome of a late summer block party.

The impetus for this longstanding fair, a joint project of the Powderhorn Park Neighborhood Association and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, is rooted in the culture and grassroots efforts of the people living in this tight-knit south Minneapolis neighborhood. Profits from the festival (now in it’s 18th year) go right back into that community, helping to fund park programs in theater arts and music, as well as a computer lab, teen center, and pottery studio.

As you’d expect from such a community-centered festival, the artwork at its center emphasizes work by local artists. (Click here to find out more about the 184 artists who were selected for inclusion in this year’s juried art fair.) In the years I’ve attended, the abundance of art and craft available at the Powderhorn Art Fair is as eclectic and appealing as the neighborhood itself.

TIME/PLACE: Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Powderhorn Art Fair sprawls across the 66 acres of Powderhorn Park in south Minneapolis. The park is between Chicago Avenue and Bloomington Avenue, and between East Lake Street and East 35th Street.