22.5.09

Art-a-Whirl is Sidewalks!

[A pedestrian sidewalk identification signage post marker directs the people flow along the sidewalks and toward the nearest art.]

Maybe I've got sidewalks on the brain*, or see the world through sidewalk colored glasses**. But I had such fun going to Art-a-Whirl this weekend, and it seemed that everything was coming up sidewalks.

I'd never gone to this Art-a-Whirl thing before, but basically it seems to me that what happens is that NorthEast Minneapolis goes crazy. Every tenth house has a yard sale, every fifteenth house is selling art, and every third house is hosting a backyard party. Meanwhile, all people are walking up and down the streets or riding bicycles all around a beautiful neighborhood in the sunshine. There are people everywhere enjoying the scent of flowers, and the sidewalks are alive with activity. NorthEast Minneapolis during Art-a-Whirl is pretty much my ideal fantasy world, with beer, bikes, art, music, and yard sale shopping all combined around neighborhood sidewalks. If only Minneapolis was always this way?


[Sidewalk flags adorn a art and yard sale in the neighborhoods of NorthEast Minneapolis during the Art-a-Whirl.]


[Sidewalk tables emerge from restaurants as people people the streets of 13th Street.]

Art is great, but it seems to me that the real draw of Art-a-Whirl are the neighborhoods and streets of NorthEast. There's so much more going on than art, and people can come from all over the city just to walk around and explore the sidewalks of the city. As nice as the Lowertown Lofts are, the Saint Paul Art Crawl just can't compete with the compact density of NE, the walkability of the neighborhoods, the yards and alleys and gardens, and the nice commercial streets (13th, Marshall, Central, University, etc.).


[Alleys and nooks fill with creperies as walkers walk by.]


[Books come out of houses and sit on yards. These books were twenty cents a piece.]

There's also a kind of open flatness to NorthEast. There's an industrial mystery that is nowhere to be found in Uptown. Quincy Street is a good example, a forgotten train-tracked assemblage of warehouses that is filled now with art lofts. The alleys and bricks were chock-a-block with pedestrians and activity, and the street was the closest thing to a Japanese mini-street fair that I've seen in Minnesota.

[The alleys of old factories are the destinations. Here a man publically makes a giant pottery pot as onlookers look on, families tour about, and everyone enjoys the tactile properties of bricks.]


Art-a-Whirl isn't really about art. It's so much more. It's about sidewalks and neighborhoods and wandering explorations. There's no way this kind of experience could happen in this same way anywhere else in the city, and NorthEast Minneapolis is really the star of the show.


[So much is going on here in this empty parking lot... It's almost too much!]


* Of course!
** My world looks like this.

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