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MN Made celebrates D.I.Y. culture and local art at the Walker Saturday

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Ever moseyed by the crop art display at the State Fair and wished you were a whiz at arranging tiny glued seeds in the visage of Gene Simmons or Flo the Progressive Insurance gal? Ever taken a gander at one of your grandma's best crocheted afghans, or listened to your grandpa twang on his jaw harp and wonder why you never picked up such a talent? Or heard about a cool music scene and wondered how you could make your tiny hometown into the next Chapel Hill? And, perhaps most importantly, have you ever wondered how you could quit your day job and actually do these kinds of things for a living?

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This Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Walker Art Center, MN Made promises to help you imagine how you too can become a seed glueing, master crocheting, jaw twanging, music-scene-making (and belt-creating, bluegrass-playing, arts-grant-attaining) sustainable artist. A "celebration of artists and makers of all kinds who feed off the particulars of local culture and unique places," this free event, copresented by the Walker and mnartists.org, will feature an Artist Mart, hourly hands-on workshops, and brief seminars on building a creative business, all to the tune of live bluegrass from the Dusty Porch Sisters.

A couple events that caught our eye (and that we also can't decide between, as both occur at the same time): Liz Schreiber, the mastermind behind some of the best contemporary crop art you've likely admired at the State Fair, will be conducting a D.I.Y. Seed Art Workshop at noon. "I am planning to have some small postcard-sized pieces of wood for people to do their pieces on; I have a variety of seeds and some images available if people want to have a sort of 'template' to work from," Schreiber explains. Can we expect to complete a work of seed art, like her impressive 2010 KISS Vita.mn cover? "Forty-five minutes is not very long to make a crop art piece," she reports, "but I hope to give people an overview of the process and get them excited about making their own work. I'll have samples of my work on hand and a seed chart to show people the wide range of colors and textures available."

Also at noon is the seminar "How to quit your day job and do what you love," featuring Michele Heidel (Fennel Studio), Holly Munoz (Rock Star Supply Co. and Draw Fire Records), Samantha Rei (Blasphemina's Closet), and Karl Unnasch (Standard Issue Iron Pour, Guild of One, Pilot Mound Design), conducting a discussion about "taking the leap to follow your creative passions and still be able to pay your bills." "This panel should be a very interesting one because of how creatively diverse the panelists are," says Heidel.

Heidel, who designs and makes pouches/handbags, wallets, scarves, and home decor inspired by her love of modern design, Japanese textiles, and unique colors and textures, has Masters degrees in both Studio Art and Arts Administration, but didn't make the jump into full-time creative work until 2009, working in administration before that. "Because of my administrative background I can't help but talk about the importance of planning. I'm kind of a planning junkie," she explains. "I will also share a bit about my experience in running a handmade business through what I categorize as 'knowledge' and 'opportunities.'"

Also on the panel is Karl Unnasch, an accomplished rural visual artist. "I will be discussing the passions and strategies that I have employed thus far in my art career," he shares, explaining he will be covering topics including networking and social maintenance, work ethic, responsibility, common sense, self-perception, and commitment to the what/why an artist does what he does.

"Often I run into folks who, once they find out I am an artist, immediately ask, 'So what do you do for a 'regular job'?' Since I cannot answer this in the context it is offered, I end up taking the position of Defender of Art by explaining that I am an Artist (with a big 'A') and my 'regular job' is exactly that," he explains. "Often I observe this as one of the biggest and blatantly saddest pitfalls artists allow themselves to fall into by excusing their 'regular job' as a means by which to make art. I say be an Artist first. It is a solid, respectable and salient career if one chooses to commit to it."

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Words to make art (and live) by. For more information on the schedule of events as well as the exhibition that inspired the day, "The Spectacular of the Vernacular," visit the Walker website.