Kickstart My Art


Art-A-Whirl is just around the corner! Finally! For the uninitiated, Art-A-Whirl is one of the largest studio crawls in the United States. Organized and run by the Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association (NEMAA), Art-A-Whirl features more than 800 local artists in 60 plus locations—from breweries and galleries to small business and even homes. You’ll find musicians, painters, sculptors, photographers, wood-workers, performance artists and more as you adventure through Northeast, questing for the coolest art and artists that Minneapolis has to offer.

Because Art-A-Whirl is so big, it can seem intimidating, but there is no wrong way to experience Art-A-Whirl. You can try your darndest to hit every gallery (I don’t think it’s possible, but tell me how close you get if you try) or find a brewery and watch music all weekend. This year I want to be what interim executive director Anna Becker calls a “hidden gem whirler” and explore everything off the beaten path.

Art by Andre Salvadore

Some of Anna’s top suggestions include Larissa Loden, who has an interactive gemstone-themed installation and the stop-action animation creation stations hosted by the Minneapolis Telecommunications Network. Historically the most popular demonstrations include glass blowing at Foci, bronze pouring at Blue Ribbon Bronze, and weaving at Q.arma.

We also have a few GLBT artists for Lavender readers to check out. This barely scratches the surface, but these artists are a great start.

Alison Bergblom Johnson

Alison is a collage artist. She says, “In my current collage work, I explore the women that live in our cultural imagination versus using realism to explore the real women who take up space in the world.” Both her bisexuality and bipolar influence her work. You can find her at the A-Mill Artists Lofts on the sixth floor.

Andre Salvadore

Andre is an Art-A-Whirl veteran whose ever-changing artistic style continues to be influenced by the cinema. Andre came out when he was 15, inspired by Stonewall. “Being gay forced me to think outside the box in every aspect of my life, and that included being an artist.” You can find him in Studio 392 in the Northrup King Building.

Art by Nelson Cain

Michael Lanham:

This is Michael’s first year at Art-A-Whirl, which is “both exciting and scary”. His art is mixed media and heavily influenced by nature: “a beautiful sunset, the moon, the universe, rivers, and fields”. His art is highly textured and strong enough to withstand touching! Head on over to the Grain Belt Bottling House and touch some art! Michael is donating a portion of his sales to The Aliveness Project and Autism Society of Minnesota.

Rock Johnsen

Rock is looking forward to Art-A-Whirl because it epitomizes the welcoming spirit of the Minneapolis art community. In his experience “as a gay person of color, Minneapolis has always been welcoming and inclusive in the art community.” Rock creates what he calls “functional creatures”. He mimics geological processes with heat and chemistry to grow crystals on his art. You can find him at Studio 240 in the Northrup King Building.

Art by Alison Bergblom Johnson

Nelson Cain

Nelson is a Stillwater native and self-taught artist. He has painted since high school, but only began showing his work in the last four years. “I rediscovered painting after I went to Hazelden in 2008 and got sober. Art has been my therapy.” You can find him at the Solar Arts Building with Chowgirls. 

Sue Mooney

After a long career in social service, Sue moved into a camper van and trailer with her yorkies and traveled to art shows across the country. She primarily mixes digital and acrylic mediums, using bright, beautiful colors that she describes as “good for the soul”. You can find her in the Solar Arts Building.

Art by Michael Lanham

Go to Art-A-Whirl. Enjoy the local art scene, the sunshine, and maybe buy a piece of art or twelve.

Time varies a bit depending on venue, but official Art-A-Whirl hours are:

Friday, May 17 – 5-10 p.m.
Saturday, May 18 – Noon-8 p.m.
Sunday, May 19 – Noon-5 p.m.

Bonus: There are free Metro Transit passes and a secure bike hub at Quincy & 14th. Check out the NEMAA website for more details ( and sign up to become a Community Friend level member of NEMAA while you’re there! Special offers and invites to all kinds of NEMAA events await!

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