For 17 years, I’ve been seeing the “Art-A-Whirl” ads around the Twin Cities. And although I’ve ducked into a couple of artists’ studios over the years, I’d never fully partaken of the Art-A-Whirl experience.
But this year I had a vested interest: I recently had the pleasure of rewriting the parent organization’s website. And through my work, I also had the privilege of meeting some of the artists who make this extraordinary event possible.
Art-A-Whirl takes place the third week of May, primarily in the Northeast Minneapolis Arts District, just across the Mississippi river from downtown Minneapolis.
For me, part of the attraction was the fact that most of the artists’ studios are housed in old factories and warehouses that still carry vestiges of their past.
Another part of the attraction, of course, was seeing the art — which covered pretty much every coverable surface.
I adored TimMonsters‘ whimsical bags and stuffed animals …
And I loved seeing how different the artists’ studios were, considering that they all started out with basically the same space.
But most of all, I enjoyed interacting with the artists themselves. Like Randy Walker, a sculptor who works primarily with thread.
“What inspired you to do this?” I asked of his unusual medium. He said it started with a few found objects and eventually evolved into his unique style. We talked about his creative process, about how he first visualizes his sculptures, and about how they evolve as he brings them to life.
I went home wishing that I’d given myself more time to listen and explore: In the end, I made it to only seven of the 50 sites and met only 11 of the 400 artists. But it was a wonderful experience just the same — and already I’m looking forward to next year.