After last year's Art-A-Whirl fashion designer Emma Berg and Kristoffer Knutson, the proprietors of MplsArt.com, announced they were moving on from the online arts calendar site, which had been running since January 2005. As Art-A-Whirl once again approaches, the website has got new leadership and a new design, thanks to husband-and-wife team Blaine and Katie Garrett. The two hope to continue the service, which highlights visual-arts happenings in the Twin Cities. They're celebrating with a launch party this Friday.
Blaine Garrett, who is a member of artists' collective Dim Media, had used the MplsArt site over the years to post events. When he saw Berg and Knutson's message last year about moving on, he posted a query on the Facebook page inquiring about what would happen next. That got the ball rolling for the he and his wife to eventually taking over the site.
The couple both have backgrounds in web design and technology, so they went about redesigning the site themselves. One of the first things they changed was the built-in Flash plug-in that the website had used, as it had been created before iPhones grew in popularity. The new site uses a responsive HTML Java Script, which will work with both desktop computers and mobile phones.
As for things that will stay that same, they hope to continue what the site has been doing in terms of getting more people to art events, and making art events more approachable and accessible. They've been looking at other calendar-type sites around the country, such as NY Art Beat, which also posts art and design events.
"We want to be inclusive with the events we list," Garrett says. Part of that means listing events for every day of the week, rather than just the weekends. The events listed will also be less curated than they had been in the past.
"We want to include anything that would fit on a social calendar," Katie says. That might cover artist lectures or other visual arts-related events as well as gallery openings.
They aim to support the local art scene as much as possible, encouraging people to stop by an art event as part of their evening. To keep the business running, they're looking at cross-promoting with restaurants and other advertising sales. Commissions would be curated so that the businesses they promote make sense with the arts-focused content of the site.
Right now, the Garretts are still taking press releases, but eventually they want to make it so that users will be able to submit events to the site directly, with approval required. They also want to make it possible to R.S.V.P. for events on the site, and to include user-generated content. People who use the hashtag #mplsart will see their photos on the website.
While Friday is the launch, the website will continue to evolve. Other possible site expansions include writing about the artists and galleries in the community.
This weekend, the new MplsArt.com will host a launch party at Public Functionary. The event will include music from DJs Ryan Simatic, Joe "Jobot" Bartuski, and Nancy Cheng. Artist Paige Dansinger will be on hand to provide free digital portraits on a first come, first serve basis. Pryes Brewing Company is sponsoring the cash bar, with all beer proceeds going toward keeping the site running.
IF YOU GO:
Friday, April 10 from 7 to 11:30 p.m.