A Work Of Virtual Art


Image courtesy of NEMAA

Every May, Northeast Minneapolis lights up with the best and brightest artists from all across the Twin Cities with Art-A-Whirl, the largest open studio tour in the United States. Hundreds of artists show off their amazing work to visitors, proving time and time again that Minneapolis’ arts community is the absolute cream of the crop.

The 2020 installment of Art-A-Whirl was to be a momentous one, as this would have been the art crawl’s 25th year. Unfortunately, COVID-19 forced the Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association (NEMAA) to nix this year’s Art-A-Whirl crawl as we normally know it. However, that doesn’t mean that Art-A-Whirl still can’t happen in another form; in this instance, the Art-A-Whirl Online Experience.

“The Art-A-Whirl Online Experience is a website where we have gathered all the participants of Art-A-Whirl,” said NEMAA executive director Anna Becker. “Art-A-Whirl Online has three essential parts: Map, Shop, and Experience. The Map section has a virtual map as well as a listing of all participant sites by type (for example: studio buildings, food and beverage, businesses, etc.). The Shop section has all artist and gallery profiles, sortable by medium. Profiles include artist contact info, image gallery, and online shop if the artist is selling work online.”

The Online Experience section boasts over a hundred videos of recorded studio tours, art demos, and musical performances, with sites, profiles, and videos all being cross-linked. The site launched on May 15, and it will be live all year, with NEMAA showcasing artists, sites, and experience on their social media pages throughout the summer.

“We have over 800 artists and galleries participating in Art-A-Whirl Online, as well as dozens of Northeast restaurants, breweries, nonprofits, and local businesses,” said Becker. “Currently there is not a webcam/livestreaming element—there is the video library of the Experience section—though there may be at some point later in the summer.”

Becker said that the site will allow for online ordering and information on curbside pick-up and delivery, with artists linking to their existing shops or shops created specifically for the Art-A-Whirl online platform. A number of Northeast Minneapolis restaurants and breweries will be participating in the Online Experience.

“There is both curbside pick-up and shipping options,” said Becker. “There are also links in restaurant and brewery partner profiles to order pickup/takeout/curbside food and beverages.”

NEMAA has invited to their Online Experience local bands that were slated to play at member venues such as Indeed Brewing and the 331 Club prior to businesses shutting down temporarily to comply with state mandates during the pandemic. Bands can submit video performances that will be accepted to the video library throughout the year.

Although Art-A-Whirl’s quarter-century celebration won’t be what we all expected it to be, luckily the implementation of the Online Experience will allow us to connect with our artistic community and continue to support them and local businesses. Aside from buying art, Becker says that those interested in helping the nonprofit NEMAA can make a tax-deductible donation at www.givemn.org/organization/Nemaa.

Becker also encouraged buying an official 2020 Art-A-Whirl t-shirt, or ordering a printed directory, available on the main page of Art-A-Whirl’s website. Members of the community can also join NEMAA as a Community Friend for just $60 a year at nemaa.org/membership/community-friend-membership.

For more information on the 2020 Art-A-Whirl Online Experience, visit nemaa.org/art-a-whirl.

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