I went to my first Art-a-Whirl on Friday night. This is amazing to me because I was raised by artists, lived nearby Northeast for two years and have worked there for three years, yet somehow I’ve never experienced this huge event. It’s the largest open studio tour in the country. The whole thing takes place at various venues in and around Northeast–there’s a free trolley to take attendees from one place to another. It’s quite literally impossible to see everything in the one weekend that Art-a-Whirl takes place over. I am blown away by how much art there is in this town. So many talented and professional people open their studios, display their work and welcome the public in during this huge weekend art extravaganza. Here are a few of my highlights.
Peeking into artist’s studios, alive with light and color, was a dream. Everyone was buzzing with excitement over supporting local artists and there was really something for everyone–every style, every price range. One highlight for me was finding Mariah Masilko, who paints abandoned buildings. I’ve had a lifelong fascination with ghost towns and photographing abandoned buildings–I even did my Senior Honors Thesis on the abandoned towns of Minnesota. See, there’s something at Art-a-Whirl for everyone, no matter how obscure!
Shopping local artisans’ jewelry, crafts, pottery and clothing
Besides fine art, there were craftsmen who made the most interesting things.
For example, these “beerings” by LB Originals are made from alcohol bottles! People are so ingenious and creative.
And this necklace is made from old children’s book covers! It’s the Dick and Jane Collection by artist Ruth Mikos.
Hands-on creative activities…yes please!
Art-a-Whirl also offers the chance for attendees to get creative.
The non-profit Keys 4/4 Kids displayed their painted pianos and let kids and adults paint piano keys. The organization donates pianos to low income families, schools and community centers. The next day when talking to my mom about my experience at Art-a-Whirl, I learned that my parents donated the old piano we’d had while I was growing up to this very organization. I was happy to learn that it had gone to such a good cause.
Another hands-on activity I loved was making a sculpture with items found on the shores of lakes and rivers with artist Barbara Rogers Bridges of Found in our Waters. As an artist and educator, she teaches students not only how to make things but about the health of our waters and keeping them clean.
If all this doesn’t convince you to go to Art-a-Whirl if you’re town this weekend, let me mention food trucks, musical performances happening all weekend, and the involvement of local breweries. I’ve definitely become an Art-a-Whirl loyalist and I’m so proud to be part of an area that’s so thriving with arts, culture and community involvement.