A friend and I went to Art-a-Whirl yesterday. The experience has much to offer. There are over 500 artists in more than 50 locations in Northeast Minneapolis. That’s a lot of art!
We started our adventure with a stop at Honey and Rye Bakehouse where we picked up some sweet treats: a morning bun, a strawberry crostata and a brownie. Okay, I got two. I’ve had the brownies from here before and they are so good that I had to get one. The strawberry crostata was too tempting to leave behind.
We arrive at the trolley stop area by the Grain Belt Studios. The trolley is still there even though it is past noon. We hop out of the car and get on the trolley. We even get a seat! The open air trolley is a delight with the perfect temperature and sunny day.
We get off at the first stop at the California Building, the first art studio building in Northeast Minneapolis. We had no plan. No specific artists we were looking for. No particular building to visit. We went through the MOJO Coffee Gallery on the first floor to get to the studios. After meandering through the first floor studios, we used the stairs rather than the elevator. It’s recommended to go to the top floor and make your way down. We took this advice and went up to the top floor. We were enthralled with one studio space: tall ceilings, wood floors, white walls, big windows on two sides that draped the room in that perfect bright yet diffused light. We wanted to move in and live in that studio space.
The flowers above are from outside the California Building. Many things were blooming in that sun-filled location. These caught my eye immediately, along with all the irises. John Kremer and Jennifer Young own the building and share a love of nature. I wonder if they had a hand in creating all the landscaping around the building.
There was no trolley in sight when we were back down at ground level and we were famished. We grabbed a nice bite to eat in the coffee gallery. I fully enjoyed my strawberry crostata after my salad.
Our next stop was the Casket Arts Building. Yes, they used to make caskets here and the casket company occupied this building until 2005. Check out some of the doors if you go. My friend and I both found the energy level of the artists and visitors in this building to be higher and more engaged than in the California Building. Once we were back outside, we both agreed we’d had enough for the afternoon. There is plenty of stimulation in the Art-a-Whirl experience and we both generally seek the quietude and beauty of nature.
Our next trolley ride was standing room only until enough folks got off after one or two stops. We passed by the Jackson Flats and the Northrup King Building(NKB). (My next trip to Art-a-Whirl will include the Jackson Flats. These are combined studio/residences.) The NKB is huge! If you want to see a lot of art and want to visit just one building, this is the place to go. The Solar Arts Building is down the street from Architectural Antiques and it’s smaller than NKB. I’ve seen some nice art there in the past.
The traffic was at a near standstill during part of the ride back to the Grain Belt Studio area. It slowed to a crawl by Architectural Antiques. We were fine with sitting in the trolley and taking in the sights and sounds. There were food trucks and bands. We heard a wonderful song by one band while we sat in the traffic. The people watching was fantastic. Next time I go to Art-a-Whirl I think I’d like to walk around outside the studios and just shoot pictures. There is as much to see outside as there is inside.
Other buildings with more than ten artists and open studios this weekend:
There are smaller studios open as well. Here’s a map of the area and studio locations: