Minneapolis Art-A-Whirl

I am back from a very nice evening in Northeast Minneapolis enjoying the annual Art-A-Whirl promotion in the city.  If you have not taken advantage of this opportunity to meet local artists, mix with an interesting crowd, and enjoy ample samples of wine and mixed nuts, you really should make the effort to go.

I went with a friend who knows an artist or two at the California Building, my favorite stop.  But we didn’t go without first taking in a late afternoon lunch at Psycho Suzi’s.  I’m not sure what works at Psycho Suzi’s, but it does work.  I have become a big fan of the pizza at Psycho Suzi’s and even enjoy the view of the somewhat industrial stretch of the Mississippi River that it offers.  I haven’t been there yet for a proper dinner, but feel that it might be time.  Who knows?  Whatever happens, it is an easy place to enjoy a good time.

(They don’t cut there pizza in squares at Psycho Suzi’s, however, and refuse to do so.  Everyone knows — it is almost certainly scientifically proven — that pizza tastes better when cut in squares.)

After pizza and beer, it was time to see the art.

Florence Hill, “My Cat”

We started with the paintings of Florence Hill, a wonderful talent from Minneapolis.  There is a calm boldness in her paintings that I like.  She achieves a sort of painterly affect without being overly painterly.  Maybe it is some kind of balance that I like.  Things appear permanent and orderly in her art.  I imagine being in a room with one of her paintings would be like sharing a room with a close friend.  It doesn’t demand attention, but you know when you look up that familiar presence will be there.

Plus Florence has outstanding snacks and wine to share.  A guy could feel guilty if he hung around too long.  I limited myself to only two glasses of wine this year.

Frank Wetzel shares the studio with Florence and he has a large collection of portraits, which are not really my thing.  Unless the portrait is of someone dear to me, I don’t think I want them hanging around.  He emphasizes realism a bit too much for my tastes, too.  But he has some studies of buildings that I really take to easily.  They are simple paintings of humble buildings and I wish he did much, much more of that.  He also has a fantastic painting of Lake Harriet with the band shell and Minneapolis skyline in the background.  Yes, I know…roll the eyes and groan…who in Minneapolis hasn’t seen a billion of those?  Frank’s, however, is truly unique.  (I wonder what he wants for it?)

Then it is up the elevator to the sixth floor from where you can let gravity pull you through the galleries and studios on the floors below.

I took very poor notes of who we visited.  (I took no notes at all, in fact, so don’t trust anything I say from here on with too much faith.)  My friend did buy some glass jewelry at Potekglass (I love the place…I like glass) from Kara Van Wyk, I believe.  The wine and cheese is tucked in the back.  Obviously trying to discourage aggressive grazers like me, but if you’re persistent, it is there.

Then I wish I could remember who was doing the life-size Beatles Abby Road cover.  I think, but I don’t know, it might have been Holly Tappen.

Holly Tappen.

She had my favorite junk food, Old Dutch Puffcorn.  But no wine, alas.  Had there been wine I would have been there a while.  Holly, if that’s who it is, had a pleasant personality and some decent paintings.  Check it out and let me know if I have my facts straight.

One of my other favorites is Patricia Canney, another peaceful painter.  (I just like the painterly stuff, don’t I?)  Very much in the mode of Florence Hill, Patricia Canney offers more fashion and portraits.  She has paintings of dresses, for example, that I love.  And like Florence Hill, I think she is very collectible.

My friend and I noted a few missing artists.  It is Friday and we were early, but there seemed to be fewer studios open.  And a dearth of free wine.  (You really had to look for it this year.)  So we picked up the pace and more or less flew through floors three and two.  Can’t tell you if much was happening there.  Stopped one last time to say goodbye to Florence and then off to the Sample Room.

A good crowd at The Sample Room.  Jay is behind the bar and stays busy, but never too busy to miss a drink.  You can quickly get deep in your glass at The Sample Room, and I like that.  Music outside, a strong summer breeze blowing, and still more beer and refreshment.  Summer isn’t all that bad in Minneapolis and getting a summer night in May is an added treat.

I encourage people to eat at The Sample Room.  I hear people give mixed reviews on the menu, but in my opinion it is consistently very solid.  (We might be getting spoiled and full of ourselves in Minneapolis.)  The food at The Sample Room is on the spot.

All in all a good night.  You do have to put up with some annoyances, like that ridiculous pedal bar or whatever it is that people pile onto so they can drink beer on the street.  (I don’t get it.  Maybe it is fun.  Maybe I should try it.)  Other than that…

Grab a date or a friend or two and go to Art-A-Whirl.  It is a whirly good time!  For me, now it is time for a movie and a nap.

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