The renaissance of northeast Minneapolis as a recreational destination can be well measured by the resounding success of Art-A-Whirl. Now celebrating its 17th year, the three-day event, sponsored by the Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association (NEMAA), has evolved from a modest studio showcase into one of the country's premier neighborhood arts festivals. It features over 400 artists operating in a fascinatingly diverse range of mediums, displaying their works in a similarly varied array of spaces including industrial lofts, parking lots, boutique galleries, and residential backyards. For example, a chance stroll down any given block can yield eclectic encounters with a succession of metalwork sculptures, charcoal landscapes, and multimedia experiments. A carnival atmosphere pervades the entire event, fostered by an endless assortment of live music, artisanal vendors, and enough dining options to satiate even the most demanding foodie. The downside of having so many options, of course, is the danger of feeling overwhelmed. Take heart; Art-A-Whirl's website allows advance planners to map their visit by space, medium, and/or artist. To completely appreciate the experience, however, one would be advised to reserve some time to be surprised by the demonstrations, performances, and sessions to be found around every corner. Yes, navigating the congested streets can quickly grow wearying, but a complimentary trolley now offers convenient rides to designated locations, allowing visitors ample evidence that, despite its popularity, Art-A-Whirl retains the quintessential quirkiness of its Northeast home. Visit www.nemaa.org for a complete list of locations and activities. (Photo by Jayme Halbritter)
Fri., May 18, 12-10 p.m.; Sat., May 19, 12-8 p.m.; Sun., May 20, 12-5 p.m., 2012
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