by Kate Iverson
For those of you who want the condensed info on the must-see buildings and areas, look no further. This handy-dandy guide will clue you in on destinations that hold the highest amount of concentrated fun and visual stimuli. Don't forget to check our full guide to Art-A-Whirl, as well as other cool special events going on in the Twin Cities this weekend!
BUILDING SPOTLIGHT: CASKET ARTS
Housed in what used to be an actual casket manufacturing plant, the Casket Arts Building is a relative newcomer to the Northeast Arts District, having been renovated only a few years ago. Here you'll find over 100 resident artists as well as a number of guest artists. Highlights include Flocked: A Wallpaper Project, a pattern-themed installation created by dozens of buzzworthy locals; Pete Driessen's Gorgonica exhibit which features a fleet of mixed media ship sculptures, fifteen marching soft-water tanks, and a full scale Optimist Dinghy; contemporary photography and paintings in the studio of awesome local filmmaker Mark Wojahn; not to mention, cute lobby lounges on each floor where you can rest your weary feet -- and of course plenty of live music, demos and surprises throughout the weekend. Located at 681 17th Avenue NE.
Click HERE for more info on Casket Arts
BUILDING SPOTLIGHT: CALIFORNIA BUILDING
One of Northeast's staple arts buildings, the California houses over 80 amazing painters, sculptors, jewelry makers, mixed media artists and more. Aside from the tasty treats you can procure from the adjacent Mill City Cafe (we suggest the Cuban sandwich!) we recommend popping into the building's first floor art gallery for a peek at the recently opened Brock Davis exhibit, which features work from the much-talked-about "Make Something Cool Every Day" project -- a project that encouraged artists globally to make a piece of original art every day for a year -- Davis was the only one to complete the project! We'd also suggest a stop into painter Doug Padilla's studio, always a great spot for colorful art and cool art scene stories from days of yore. Other l'etoile faves such as Aldo Moroni, Robyne Robinson, Kendall Bohn, Susan Opitz and many more have studios in the building. Located at 2205 California St. NE.
Click HERE for more info on the California Building
BUILDING SPOTLIGHT: THORP BUILDING
Ah, the birthplace of Art-A-Whirl. Long ago (15 years to be exact) a handful of spunky artists at the ye olde Thorp had a crazy idea: a building-wide studio crawl lovingly dubbed "Art-A-Whirl." Well, that little seed that was planted so many years ago has now blossomed into a full-fledged, neighborhood-wide extravaganza of epic proportions. An extravaganza that has single-handedly transformed the landscape of Northeast Minneapolis from a cozy neighborhood into what is now the art capital of Minnesota. Highlights at this legendary building include a HUGE Friday night party featuring live art, outdoor projections, a fashion show, exhibits, open studios, beer, music, and oh-so-much more. The party continues throughout the weekend with live music and performances the Freight elevator, carefully curated by Thorp O.G., Mean Larry. Be sure to check out the studios of l'etoile faves Dave Sollie, Kerry Riley, The Lab Digital Imaging, and Scott Nedrelow -- who will be debuting his collaboration with Ruben Nusz entitled Location the first in a series of limited edition artists’ books featuring idea-based work in all media; essentially a well-curated quarterly gallery exhibit in book format. The Thorp Building is located at 1618 Central Avenue (in the same building as Diamond's Coffee Shop). AAW at the Thorp is co-sponsored by l'etoile!
Click HERE for more info on the Thorp Building
BUILDING SPOTLIGHT: GRAINBELT BOTTLING HOUSE
There's plenty going on in and around the Bottling House and the Keg House this Art-A-Whirl! Droves of awesome artists await you at these historic hot spots on the edge of the district. Stop into the MNFashion studio to see a fashion photography exhibit, or take a spin through the Bottling House atrium to check out a slew of guest artists on display. We especially love Grainbelt artist Lynn Speaker's signature gunpowder-blast art pieces and Caitlin Karolczak's surreal oil painted creatures. On the edge of the parking lot, behind the Bottling House, you'll also find the stand-alone studio building of artist Nick Legeros, whose amazingly crafted bronze sculptures grace many local landmarks. If you're lucky, you may even catch Nick casting something live in his studio! Just a hop, skip and a jump down from all the 13th Avenue hoopla, the Grainbelt buildings are a must-stop on your AAW itinerary. Located at 79 E. 13th Avenue NE.
Click HERE for more info on the Grainbelt Studios
BUILDING SPOTLIGHT: NORTHRUP KING BUILDING
This one's a no-brainer. The Northrup King Building is one of the premiere destinations for top notch Art-A-Whirl shenanigans, as it houses the largest concentration of artist studios in the district -- 150 to be exact. And when you factor in all the guest artists and shared studios, that number likely crawls up significantly. If you're pressed for time, NKB could be your AAW one-stop-shop for maximum arty impact, but if we know you (and we think we do) you plan on hitting as many Art-A-Whirl locations as you can, right? Anyhoo, highlights in the Northrup King include but are not limited to: The NEMAA Silent Auction in the 3rd floor gallery, where you can lay eyes on (and bid on) over 100 works by NEMAA member artists from all over the district -- complete with studio locations on each label so you can hunt down your favorites. Also of note, is l'etoile pal Krista Mina on the 2nd floor, where you can score sweet deals on hand-blown glass beads and see live demos. Pop into Icebox Gallery to check out the serene underwater photography of Rhea Pappas; peep the large-scale abstractions of Duane Ditty on 3 or the colorful creations of Pati DeVries on 2; and the head up to 4 to witness live screen-printing at Angel Bomb Studios -- just to name a mere few. The Northrup King is located at 1500 Jackson Street NE.
Click HERE for more info on the Northrup King Building
AREA SPOTLIGHT: QUINCY STREET
The whole of Quincy Street will be abuzz with more art action than you can shake a bedazzled stick at between the Architectural Antiques Building, the Quincy Street Studios, and the Q.arma Building. See bands rock out live on the street, peep bronze pours, art demos, gallery shows and more. Highlights include Altered Esthetics Gallery F.R.E.S.H. show, live screenprinting and DJs courtesy of Anthem Heart and co., and metal art by Rabi Sanfo in the Q.arma; see the art exhibit Questioning the Machine featuring work by Jack Pavlik at the Conduit Gallery (Quincy Street Studios), and fabulous fashion by Calpurnia Peach (Architectural Antiques Building). Just a quick stroll across the tracks from the Northrup King, Quincy Street is an easy-access art mecca just waiting to be explored. Not to mention, the cool old buildings are quite a sight, inside and out! Located on Quincy Street between Broadway & 14th.
Click HERE for more info on Quincy Street
AREA SPOTLIGHT: 13TH AVENUE
Okay, this less of a "area" and more of a fun-filled strip of frenzied art activity! The landscape of 13th Avenue has changed significantly over the past five years with the surge of cool businesses staking claim to the little district that includes the 331 Club, the Northeast Social, The Ritz Theater, Anchor Fish & Chips, Chowgirls, Shuga Records and more. Each Art-A-Whirl 13th Avenue picks up more and more steam, and honestly, we're not sure how they'll be able to top themselves come next year. Highlights include the Science & Wonder exhibit at the Buddha, the annual 331 live music and art bonanza, over 70 bands on an outdoor stage at Shuga Records, free brats at Chowgirls slung by l'etoile's own Robyn Lewis (aka the Bitchelor), art at Frank Stone Gallery, screenprinted poster goodness at Who Made Who, performances at the Ritz and all manners of surprises and arty goodness at pretty much every joint within a four block stretch. Definitely a destination for the more party-minded Art-A-Whirlers, 13th Ave supplies not only plenty of visual stimulation, but tons of food, drinks and loud, live entertainment. The awesome area was even recently written up in the NY Times Travel section! The 13th Avenue fun is centered around 13th & University Avenue -- just follow the noise!
Click HERE to read the NY Times article on 13th Avenue
AREA SPOTLIGHT: EAST HENNEPIN
This adorable little shopping/art/entertainment area located on edge of Arts District is becoming cooler by the minute. Over the past five years additions like the Red Stag Supper Club, The Gallery at Fox Tax, Belle Reve, Punch Pizza, Ginger Hop, Pink Hobo Gallery and more have considerably jazzed up an area perhaps best known for being home to Surdyk's liquor store. This Art-A-Whirl you'll be treated to plenty of visual goodness as well as numerous opportunities to fuel up with delicious food. Hit up Fox Tax for the opening of the mplsart.com curated exhibit The Age of Aquarius, see the Scion video installation at Pink Hobo Gallery, see hot art at Gallery 122 at Hang It and at Midway Contemporary Art and peep the detailed works of Shari Carlson at Artistic Indulgence. Stop into cute shops like clothing boutique Belle Reve or locally-focused artsy gift shop I Like You, then grab a bite to eat at any number of great restaurants including the Bulldog, Whitey's, Butcher Block, Ginger Hop and many more. Nightlife is also a blast on East Hennepin as the newish Honey Lounge hosts DJs on both Friday and Saturday and the Red Stag offers live music and karaoke. And if you're feeling adventurous, you can always bust out your black vinyl unitard for a late night trip to goth club Ground Zero! The East Hennepin Area centers around University Avenue and East Hennepin Ave, stretching up to Central avenue and 1st.
Click HERE for more info on East Hennepin
AREA SPOTLIGHT: JOHNSON STREET
A bit off the beaten path, but totally worth the trolley trip, Johnson Street -- just like East Hennepin -- has become increasingly cooler over the past five years. Cute businesses like Foiled Again hair salon, Rewind Vintage, Crafty Planet and more dot the vicinity of Johnson & 29th, along with fantastic restaurants like Pop! and the brand new Amici Pizza & Bistro, which just opened in the old Snap! location. For the past four or so years, the merchants in the area have banded together to throw one of the rockin'-est outdoor parties of Art-A-Whirl: Johnstock! A great AAW destination to take the family, Johnstock not only provides a great line up of live music on an outdoor stage, but numerous artsy and craftsy vendors shilling reasonably priced art creations and trinkets alongside kids activities and even a talent show. A street fair-style art party with plenty to look at and do, the Johnson Street Area is worth the jaunt! Located on and around the intersection of Johnson & 29th.
Click HERE for more info on Johnson Street
Most photos courtesy of www.northeastminneapolisartsdistrict.com - a great resource for all things Northeast! Johnstock photo courtesy of Johnson St. Merchants.