Art-A-Whirl 2012

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 Craig VanDerSchaegen’s photography. I also very much enjoyed finally meeting my friend-of-a-friend Howard Christopherson, and viewing his beautifully curated photography exhibits.

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.


  1. Very nice! I love the stuffed wall animals… I could imagine using them as hand puppets and scaring my friends by moving them by surprise…

    • Haaa! I had no idea you were such a prankster, Edward. You may want to scroll down a bit to my earlier post about Mr. Wampire. 🙂

  2. While trying to make the most of this few minutes before I start working I read your recent posts and ended up extremely delighted!! Thank you!!

    • Thank you very much for your kind words, Caronte. It makes my day to know that I brightened yours a bit. Y mientras estamos tratando el tema, mil gracias por tu post titulado “El Life OS.” ¡Qué risa me dió!

    • … and thanks so much for tagging along, J.A.! It’s comments like yours that make blogging worth the time and effort.

    • *Work your way up to that amount of creativity*? Are you MAD? You have creativity coming out of your ears!! Not only are you a wonderful writer with a truly unique voice, but you’re also a great visual thinker. (It would never occur to me to stage a staple-remover thingy as a marauding monster, for example!) While it’s great to be inspired — and even humbled — by others’ work, try to give yourself some credit for your own talent and creativity. I know lots of creative people, so trust me when I say you’re definitely one of ’em. OK. End of pep talk. Let’s go write or photograph something, eh?

      PS: I’m serious about the Gangster Burger. Bring it! 🙂

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