by Valerie Valentine
This annual event has grown from a handful of artists displaying their wares to a widespread art-glut including over 400 participants. Anyone who gives a damn about local art knows that Northeast has got it goin' on. This springtime event gives nosy art lovers an opportunity to see what the Minnesota artists have been up to in the seclusion of their studios all winter.
One gallery in the area, Creative Electric, will be hosting a Lit 6 literary
group reading to complement their “Art-a-Swirl” motif. The gallery-turned-bathroom
makes that private power room into a public monument. The toilet tribute is
a collaborative effort by 11 locals. Potty humor will draw them in like flies,
although the readymade theme has grown a bit stale. The shower here functions,
though, unlike Marcel Duchamp’s celebrated urinals.
ensemble includes every water closet necessity, from butt-wipe to bidet. Mike
Brady posts notes of bathroom courtesy: “Pick up Your Own Towels,”
“Replace the Roll,” in his sharpie on cardboard constructions. Michael
Thomsen’s “Medisen Cabinet” is a nightmarish mix of media,
that will make you wonder what kind of drugs are really kept in there. Phil
Harber's got a singing mirror set-up where you can groove while grooming. The
unusual bathroom art by Karl Raschke pays tribute to toiletries with tiny images
of razors and soap-on-a-rope framed on some embroidered fabric. Ryan Sweere’s
paintings aren’t particularly bathroomy, but they're certainly pretty.
“Asian Girl” shows muted lines in blue and olive; the girl straddles
the pole on a public transport car; the pose is vaguely erotic, and her anonymity
is rendered intimate through Sweere’s sensitive use of color and brushstroke.
The Northeast Minneapolis Art Association (NEMAA) pivots around this party all
year long. First Thursdays are still happening, and we had Art Attack last fall,
but seriously. Art-A-Whirl is the event. It may seem intimidating to try and
cover so much ground and there are a lot of things happening—readings,
music, art-making demonstrations.
If you’re overwhelmed as to how to approach the whole deal, take a hint
from Joseph Campbell: “Follow your bliss.” You like oil paintings?
They got oil paintings. You like steel sculpture? Go get your steel sculpture.
If you only want to look at woodwork, pick up a map and guide, get out your
highlighter, and go to town. There’s something for every art freak in
the land. Enjoy! ||
Art-A-Whirl is May 20–22 at various locations throughout Northeast
Minneapolis. Fri. 5–8 p.m.; Sat. noon–8 p.m. & Sun. noon–5
p.m. Go to NEMAA.org for more information.