This weekend’s a big one for the St. Paul arts scene. The days have turned warmer, lilacs are blooming and the trees are leafing out — all cues that it’s time for another Saint Paul Art Crawl. Friday through Sunday, thousands of visitors will traipse through hundreds of galleries and artist studios, browsing through some of the vast array of art — jewelry, pottery, prints, paintings, photography, sculpture, fiber art and glass work — made by our city’s working artists and craftspeople.
But the St. Paul Art Collective’s seasonal arts festival has evolved into so much more than a gallery hop — it’s become an interdisciplinary celebration as much about community-building as it is art-shopping. Most of the crawl’s hotspots feature live music throughout the weekend — particularly in and around the Lowertown farmer’s market area, where you’ll find all those beautiful old, rehabbed warehouses and artist co-ops. There’s so much going on at this point, even a die-hard is hard pressed to take it all in. From downtown’s SoundCrawl and parade on Friday to the various and sundry happenings in Lowertown, Harriet Island, Midway, Grand Avenue, the Eastside and Cathedral Hill all weekend long — the sheer abundance and variety of offerings can be a little daunting.
To get you started, below I’m sharing some of the spots earmarked for my own art crawl adventures this weekend, including a few off-the-main-path-but-worthwhile events that may have slipped under your radar.
AZ Gallery and the Black Dog are neighboring spaces in the Northern Warehouse building. In both venues, there’s going to be loads of art to see (I’m particularly eager to see Alex Kuno’s new work in his “Miscreants of Tiny Town” series, currently on exhibit at the Black Dog) and live music throughout the weekend. In addition to its group exhibition — a mix of 18 artists, many of them co-op members and a few invited guest artists — AZ Gallery’s line-up of musicians to play in the gallery includes roots rock, blues and jazz with the likes of Jeff Ray and Hurricane Harold, Dave Ziffer Jazz/Fusion Guitar, Bernie King and the Guilty Pleasures and Le Boom Boom (see the full schedule here). The Black Dog, a favorite crawl hub and watering hole for both artists and gallery-hoppers, will be humming as well, with food and drink and, weather permitting, a spot on the patio from which to see and be seen; live music will include performances by Todd Harper and his Angry Birds followed by DJ BK-One on Friday night.
Both AZ Gallery and Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar are in the Northern Building, at the corner of Fourth and Broadway, St. Paul, Minn.
Eastside St. Paul — “Crawl Off the Map” and into J.A. Geiger’s neighborhood studio
Glass artist Josephine Geiger’s programming for the art crawl has grown from simply opening her neighborhood studio to the addition of a demonstration tent this spring. In addition to her own lovely stained glass creations, Geiger’s space will also feature exhibited work by three guest artists: Brenda Brousseau (beadwork) , Beth Colaizy (pottery) and Tracie Thompson (painting, mixed media). While the demonstrations of beadwork, crochet and needlework in the tent all weekend are sure to be interesting in their own right, this is what clinched the deal for me: Thompson will be doing 10-minute pet sketches, on site and by request — bring a photo of “your favorite non-human friend” and a 10-spot, and you can leave with a portrait.
Josephine A. Geiger’s studio will be open throughout the St. Paul Art Crawl, Friday through Sunday, at 1647 Beech St., St. Paul, Minn., 55106.
Harriet Island — ArtStart’s Children’s EcoArts Festival
This family oriented, conservation-themed arts festival on St. Paul’s Harriet Island includes “upcycling” art-making activities and eco-minded demonstrations, an exhibition of 3-D artwork made by local schoolchildren and a variety of multicultural dance and theater performances by youth and professional artists. Other highlights of the one-day gathering this Saturday include Saint Paul Civic Symphony’s performance of “The Animals Search for Water: A Folktale from Mozambique” (composed by Jan Gilbert and narrated by Nothando Zulu with drummer Papis Diop); tributes to the Mississippi River and Minnesota flora and fauna by area poets and storytellers; and a one-day public art installation — created by Matthew Dominic Farley, in collaboration with Kirstin Wiegmann of Forecast Public Art — honoring both the Big Muddy and the bald eagle, one of the river’s many wild residents.
The Spring 2012 St. Paul Art Crawl runs: Friday, April 27, 6 to 10 p.m.; Saturday, April 28, 12 to 8 p.m.; Sunday, April 29, 12 to 5 p.m.. Find the full schedule of events, locations and additional information: http://stpaulartcrawl.org/.