Art-A-Whirls new faces

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May 7, 2012
By: Michelle Bruch
Michelle Bruch

With over 60 Art-A-Whirl venues to check out this year, it’s hard to know where to start. 

Here we offer up the newest stops on the tour: a home for Lego masterminds, an arts building powered by solar energy, an eclectic gallery in the Grain Belt Keg House, and the American Craft Council’s first foray into Art-A-Whirl. 

Brickmania Toyworks

1620 Central Ave. NE, suite 170

Open house all weekend with Legos, live music, art and pizza

Brickmania Toyworks is showcasing Lego creations that have been under construction for up to 10 years, such as a running Lego train display built by the Greater Midwest Lego Train Club. 

“It’s a constant work in progress,” said proprietor Daniel Siskind, explaining that years-old pop culture references to The Simpsons and The Matrix could use some updating. “The older parts are torn down and rebuilt.”

The huge models recently relocated to a 16,000-square-foot warehouse inside the Thorp building, a space three times the size of the old studio. 

Aside from providing workspace for Lego enthusiasts, Brickmania sells custom Lego sets. It specializes in historical models, castles and ships like the USS Missouri — one ship model is 8 feet long. 

“It’s museum quality kind of stuff,” Siskind said.

Pizza Luce will sell pizza by-the-slice on Friday and Saturday, and several live bands are lined up for the weekend.

“We’ll keep it mellow during the day, and after 5 it will start getting louder,” Siskind said.

Solar Arts Building

711 15th Ave. NE

Open studios, third-floor gallery and brewery tours throughout the weekend

Artists and solar panels are slated to arrive at this rehabbed building just in time for Art-A-Whirl. 

Building co-owner Duane Arens said KARE 11 plans to give the weather report from the roof during Art-A-Whirl, flanked by the new solar array. 

“We’re probably going to have a little bit of music,” he said. “We want to get as many people in there as possible. ... It’s all about helping the artists sell art.”

The building’s new brewery won’t serve alcohol until July, but the staff from Indeed Brewing Company will be on hand to give tours of all the new equipment. 

“We can’t wait to get going,” Arens said.

Flow Art Space

34 13th Ave. NE

Reception for artists on Friday, May 18, 6-10 p.m.

Northeast resident Melissa Metzler has spent the last 10 years showing her own artwork. So when she decided to open the gallery last fall, she was determined that artists should take 100 percent of the proceeds from their sales. 

“I really wanted to do something different,” Metzler said. “I know how much work goes into art. ... At the end of the day when you make a sale, you realize pretty quickly that you still didn’t make any money.”

Photographers, painters, jewelry artists, and an encaustic painter that’s getting a lot of attention round out her Art-A-Whirl show. (Encaustic painting uses a hot wax medium.)

“What I try to do is balance local art with art from around the country,” Metzler said. “It’s a really great chance to highlight our local artists and show how we stand up. ... There is a real sophistication to work in the Twin Cities.”

American Craft Council

Grain Belt Brewery, 

1224 Marshall St. NE

Salon series and open house with free wine 

and appetizers on 

Friday, May 18, 4-8 p.m.; 

Salon talk 6-7 p.m.

The California-based artist and professor Garth Johnson has spent hours poring through the American Craft Council’s (ACC) huge craft library. Now he’s returning the favor by sharing retro film clips from the collection, providing fodder for a salon talk with visitors.

“Garth is famous for his capacity to connect what’s happening, or happened, in the craft world with what’s happening in popular culture,” said Jordan McDonald, ACC education coordinator. “In our Art-A-Whirl event we’re using our unique position to bring some new perspectives to this community while promoting local talent.”

Twenty-nine local artists will appear in the ACC office and in a digital showcase, which will feature potters, glass artists, weavers, metal smiths and letter press printers.

The ACC has found a few different ways to connect its new headquarters to local artists.

One is through workshops. ACC is partnering in May with the Textile Center to offer a behind-the-scenes tour of the seller’s experience at Etsy.com. The ACC also hosts a salon series in the spring and fall. The dialogues are always free, and they are filmed and available online as well. The magazine’s library, which offers a collection of artist files and several thousand books and exhibition catalogs, is open to the public Monday through Friday.