Art-a-Whirl: Artist Studios + Parties

Let’s make sure it’s said: Art-a-Whirl is a chance to celebrate the art made by the artists in the Northeast Arts District. So with all your whirl’in, make sure you save some cash to buy a print or painting from someone. You’ll be glad you did. Unless specified otherwise, the open studios run from Friday 5-10 PM, Saturday Noon-8 PM, Sunday Noon-5 PM. 

But, also, realistically, Art-a-Whirl has also grown into one of the biggest arts and culture festivals in Minneapolis. It spans multiple buildings, many tap rooms, automotive shops, backyards and bars. It’s a weekend of parties—The 331 Club has The Sugarhill Gang and Grandmaster Flash coming in for it, for crying out loud. As we usually do, here’s just a small number of arts selections for both new visitors and Northeast regulars to check out, but also some of the bigger and cooler parties happening, too.  

To add to the excitement, we have a special announcement: Come see our old-timey newsstand at Solar Arts and grab a special copy of DISPATCH from one of our newsies shouting out the day’s Arts & Culture headlines. See you there! 

Baptize, Chastise, Laugh, Die: New Work by Kate Iverson
Artist, photographer, and all-around cool inspiration Kate Iverson returns to exhibition after 2+ years with Baptize, Chastise, Laugh, Die, a mixed-media photo series at the Corner Store Gallery that offers an unapologetic glimpse into the IDGAF post-lockdown, post-Trump experience as seen through the artist’s lens. Hedonistic, uncomfortable and maybe even offensive to some, Iverson’s candid photos are equal parts moody and manic. Featuring large black and white photographic prints embellished with abstract, hand-painted elements, Iverson’s work refuses to take itself completely seriously, combining humor, companionship and a bit of shamelessness along the way. Trigger warning: butts, religious iconography and mild drug use. All weekend.  

Awakening | Ta-coumba T. Aiken at Dreamsong
Named a 2022 Guggenheim Fellow, Ta-coumba T. Aiken’s oeuvre encompasses hundreds of public murals and sculptures in the Twin Cities alongside a dedicated studio practice long overdue for serious critical attention. Through a studio practice rooted in abstraction, with particular affinities to the work of Norman Lewis and Romare Bearden, and alongside a renowned public art practice ignited through John T. Biggers’ mentorship, Aiken has spent decades channeling the spirits of his ancestors through form and color. In Awakening, a symphonic complexity emerges across paintings built through layers of loose, swirling gestures and tondos blasted with explosive shards of color. All weekend.

Unloved Creatures 3
A mutation of the wildly successful 2019 and 2020 exhibits at Rogue Buddha Gallery, Unloved Creatures 2022 spills over with mind melting, sugary goodness. The big group exhibition—including big names in local art, too—showcases the happiest Nature Gods to alien animals to dimly lit alternate universes to melancholic carnivals, and will take you to places full of inspiration that perfectly mix beauty and darkness. All weekend

Storage Contemporary Presents: Pussycore Collective: Technosexual Definitely find time this weekend to swing by Storage Contemporary to see special guest artist Andi Hillestad, founder of Pussycore Collective — a femme-forward group of artists, creative producers and party people that create artwork, screen printed apparel and event decor. Andi’s personal artwork, which has been described as “Demonic Lisa Frank”, will be on display along with cute Pussycore merch and branded apparel including booty shorts, tanks, hoodies and much more. Plus, you can enjoy rave cave extras including a chill out blacklight room, a Pussycore photo booth, and live techno sound provided by Intellephunk, creators of summer Sunday dance party Communion, and psychedelic techno festival The Great Beyond. All weekend.

The Largest Open Studio at Art-a-Whirl
To get a great sample of the artsy open studios vibe of the entire Arts District-wide event, pop into the second floor of the Solar Arts Building and then make your way upstairs for one large open studio, complete with dozens of exhibiting artists and fancy finger food. Pro tip for all these recommendations: Do you tour on Friday while the best art is still available. All weekend

Project Practice at NKB #144
A projection-based installation by Public Functionary that celebrates the creative process of artists across multiple disciplines, Project: Practice is an immersive installation shares glimpses at artists’ methods of developing narrative and technique within their practice. Video loops featuring moments of making are projected onto the gallery walls, giving a larger-than-life view of creative practice. The projections that fill Public Functionary’s new project space at the Northrup King Building create a meditative experience for visitors to traverse. Grab tickets ahead of time because it’s a timed event. All weekend, $10.

Casket Arts + Backyard Trailer Explosion
Over 90 artists will open their studios at the three buildings of the Casket Arts Building to share new and exciting work after two years of being shuttered. In addition to the art demonstrations, live music, food trucks and more, the MN curator and collector Mark Har spins some 16mm film reels with a special program of weird and wacky dDrive-in movie trailers and commercials that will shock and delight with the 70’s gems flicker on the Casket Arts Building walls. FRI, May 20th – 8 PM – $8 suggested donation.

Hey, look, we know there’s a million other things going on and that Northrup King is the largest art complex in Minnesota and really a must-attend for the arts in Art-a-Whirl, and that the Icons of St. Mary’s Orthodox Church is probably the coolest part of Art-a-Whirl, and that you’ll need to tip like $50 if you think you’re going to get on the karaoke list anywhere, but look we spent a lot of time on our newsstand and getting newsie costumes, okay? In a way it’s like our own art.

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