Let Andy Sturdevant curate your Art-a-Whirl weekend

Minneapolis-based writer, artist and man about town Andy Sturdevant of South 12th graciously offers his expert picks for Art-a-Whirl 2009.

So the narrative goes like this: in the 1990s, after being forced out of Minneapolis’ Warehouse District by rising rents, sports bars and a lingering post-Morning in America hangover, most visual artists migrated across the river to Northeast. At the time, it was a quiet, blue-collar Eastern European enclave that was full of empty storefronts and warehouses, and about as trendy as Sunday afternoon dinner at your babcia’s house. The locus of the Minneapolis art scene has been located there since, and has in fact integrated very nicely into the overall neighborhood feeling of the area. Northeast is Orthodox churches, corner bars and some of the best galleries in town.

Every May, when the city is finally waking up from winter, the Northeast art community throws itself a weekend-long party up there, and the studio doors are flung wide open. It’s not just art; there are bands, dance parties, cross-disciplinary undertakings of all kinds, and plenty of drink specials. It can be overwhelming working your way through even a light itinerary – and, like with many events of this nature, you’ll have to wade through a lot of schlock – so I’ve narrowed it down to a few shows that look particularly interesting.

You can find a comprehensive guide here, or here. Or, actually, you can just ask the people you meet on the street or in the bar what’s good; people will have opinions. I’ve truly found word-of-mouth is still the best way to navigate through the morass of studios, galleries and more informal not-quite-either spaces that make up the Northeast.

S.S. Infinite Regress
Creative Electric was a beloved Northeast studio that brought in both talented locals (Chris Larson) and oddball national artists (Negativland) until it closed up shop a few years. However, its owners miraculously came into possession of some prime Mississippi riverfront and an honest-to-god houseboat last year, so they have made great use of both by retrofitting the vessel with wall-size mirrors and a bevy of film projectors, turning it into a floating cinematic funhouse for guests to interact with. White hazmat suits will apparently be provided. Oh, yeah – there’ll be bands playing on floating pontoons on the goddamned river, too. Anchors aweigh!

Sellout opening
Three artists (at least two of whom moonlight as arts writers) will be launching a new conceptual and small work-focused space they’re calling Sellout this weekend in the Northrup King Building. Ruben Nusz, Scott Stulen and John Fleischer will be showing new mixed-media work, and they also promises to have a well-stocked, carefully curated flat file of affordably-priced new work by your favorite local emerging and mid-career artists available for sale.

More is a Four Letter Word,
Fox Tax

Fox Tax is a uniquely Minneapolis institution that nicely reconciles our city’s bottomless love of the arts with our profound appreciation for order and responsibility: an accounting firm that deals solely with artists and creatives, with a gallery inside (full disclosure: yes, they do my taxes). For Art-A-Whirl, their house curator Emma Berg has brought together five artists who primarily work as painters, including Tynan Kerr, whose impromptu installations can often be found on telephone poles and empty buildings around town, and Alex Kuno, whose fantastical oil paintings of childhood narratives strikes the right notes of whimsy and dread.

Don’t Sleep On It

The teens at the Walker Arts Center’s Teen Arts Council have commandeered a section of the California Building, and with the help of some local luminaries like Hardland/Heartland, Burlesque Design, Andy Ducett and John Grider, turned it into a 24-hour interactive artmaking marathon, with each group of artists working in three-hour sections. This promises to be an exciting mashup of Warhol’s Factory, Village of the Damned, Glenn O’Brien’s TV Party and the films of John Hughes, which is almost the greatest thing I can think of.

Gastro Non Grata

Gastro Non Grata is an ongoing quarterly event that has collaboratively paired the two drunkest types of people you know -- musicians and professional cooks -- with exciting results. They’ll be camping out at the Modern CafĂ© on 13th Avenue, which is quickly becoming one of the most interesting stretches of road in the city. A pig will be roasted, baklava will be served, several bands will play all day on Sunday, and Minneapolis’ most beloved podcast, Flak Radio, will be kicking things off at 11am. Two Brothers Beer will provide the drinks.

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