Culture Tornado: Art-A-Whirl Spins Through Northeast Minneapolis

Northeast Minneapolis Art Association (NEMAA) is an affable amalgamation of artists and allies headquartered within the Mill City’s upper-right-hand corner. The organization’s biggest, most precocious brainchild is Art-A-Whirl, a tornadic tour of local studios and galleries. The 2009 event takes place the third weekend of May: Friday, May 15, 5-10 PM; Saturday, May 16, Noon-8 PM; and Sunday, May 17, Noon-8 PM—rain or shine. Loving art is no fair-weather sport, speaking figuratively and literally.

Art-A-Whirl is an art crawl where poseur stands shoulder-to-shoulder with connoisseur, and where pretender nuzzles up to expert, exploring Northeast Minneapolis’s Other World—from impressionism to bas-relief, from blowup to bitmap. And the coolest thing is that they all belong there.

During its 13 years of existence, Art-A-Whirl has evolved from a dog-faced novelty to a much-anticipated tradition. But every tradition has its vestals. In those cases, welcome booths will be headquartered in the intersection of 13th and Marsh, as well as on Quincy Street Northeast. They will provide first-timers with specific information on specific artists. Although most of the art (and artists) tend to be of the visual variety, the district will be peppered liberally by special art events perpetrated by myriad performing, educational, and visual groups.

Like magicians drawing back the backstage curtain, the creators participating in Art-A-Whirl will open their workspaces and play-places to a curious public. The actual art, in all its schizophrenic glory, will be on display in various venues, both hubrisy and humble—from galleries and warehouses to storefronts and cafés—even within some artists’ homes. The idea behind Art-A-Whirl is for art lovers to connect each of these dots—a cross between a bar hop and a sampler plate—with culture as the main course.

Painter Mike Welton, himself a featured talent, says, “Visual artists have started coming out of the wall to share their art with the community. A lot of them are young, emerging, very up-and-coming artists here in our community.”

More than 500 artists will participate in Art-A-Whirl. Their work will manifest as paintings, pottery, prints, photographs, music, sculpture, glass, tile, and textiles.

When NEMAA describes itself as an association, it means it. Association is very much what Art-A-Whirl is about.

“I think of it as a way to get reacquainted with the neighborhood,” one Art-A-Whirl enthusiast explains. “I used to live [in the Northeast District], so I use Art-A-Whirl as an excuse to check out the old neighborhood, and squeeze in some culture besides.”

Like Northeast Minneapolis itself, Art-A-Whirl is more than just an exaggeration of exhibits. It’s an exercise in experience.

Join Lavender and Wilde Roast Cafe for

Art-A-Whirl Happy Hour

Friday, May 15 • 5-8 PM

Meet Northeast Minneapolis Artists:
Jim Aune • Larry Borg • John Erste • Anne Kalow • David Schmit • Smooch Project • Mike Welton

Wilde Roast Cafe
518 E. Hennepin Ave. • Minneapolis

Art-A-Whirl / Northeast Minneapolis Art Association, 2205 California St. NE, No. 118, Mpls. / (612) 788-1679 /

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