We’ve been promoting our upcoming Art-A-Whirl installation with the following words: “The installation will feature parade puppets up close to honor the past 40 years of this annual Twin Cities community tradition. This collaboration between Public Functionary and In The Heart of the Beast aligns a new Northeast Minneapolis art organization with a long-standing South Minneapolis institution to bridge communities and neighborhood celebrations built on art and culture.” Perhaps this is too simple of an explanation.
I’d like to share a little more about the thinking behind our choice to showcase a South Minneapolis art tradition during Art-A-Whirl and why we deliberately chose not to focus on art sales this weekend. Theoretically, we are still very much “selling art.” Our goal is to remind our community that Art-A-Whirl is about celebrating our neighborhood, and the legacy of the MayDay parade is certainly a gleaming example of just that. In The Heart of The Beast’s annual display of puppetry, art and wonder is one of the most inspiring and beloved events in the Twin Cities.
Though our renown art crawl started in the ’90s with the aim of welcoming the public into artists’ studios, it has continued to grow into much more and it’s no surprise–Northeast Minneapolis is full of ideal space for creativity and art. If you live in this neighborhood, you are also aware how much it is changing and evolving. With the energy of development and growth come new residents and businesses. Not everything will be about art nor will everyone who claims space here embrace the true meaning of the Northeast Arts District, as much as we may feel they ought to. Unfortunately, it is not a requirement of urban development to acknowledge the artist’s role in creating desirable neighborhoods, and yet it will undoubtedly always capitalize on it.
However quickly this neighborhood grows into the next hip place to be, Art-A-Whirl has deep enough roots in this community to stand tall. The response is not to shrug it off and let the true potential of an art-based weekend get watered down by the masses. The response, theoretically, is MayDay. The response to a mainstream movement that takes Art-a-Whirl in a direction that has less to do with art? Look to MayDay and our neighbors in South Minneapolis as an example. For 40 years the MayDay Parade has continued to celebrate community, creativity and diversity, with thousands of people from near and far coming together every year for the parade and ceremony in Powderhorn Park. It is inspiring and incredible. Should we have a parade in Northeast for Art-A-Whirl? Maybe. But that’s not the true takeaway here. MayDay is the perfect example of heartfelt community participation and the embracing of diversity in artistic styles, ability and expression. Sound familiar?
The community is changing and Art-A-Whirl should reflect our community. If you live, work, or create in Northeast Minneapolis I encourage you, make Art-A-Whirl your own. Whether that means showing in your studio, opening up your garage full of sculptures, curating a show in a non-traditional space, making art on your front lawn or on stage with bands in a parking lot. Bring art, style, music and ideas to Northeast for 3 days to celebrate Spring and creativity. We should want people to flock to Northeast for a weekend of connection and curiosity, and hopefully, but perhaps not essentially, to buy art. We should be patient and and accept that not everyone will know what this is all about, and instead we should teach and show them. Northeast is filled with artist studios, galleries, restaurants, small businesses, breweries and more. We are brimming with talent in all forms, and success is about tapping into the assets of our community to activate a larger purpose and long-term impact. Art-A-Whirl should be our annual call to attention, a reminder that art is at the core of this community. As higher priced condos pop up around us and old factory buildings are converted into mixed use properties, it is more important than ever for our Northeast art community core to stay strong and connected.
Public Functionary is showing, with love and respect, 40 years of the MayDay parade in a retrospective installation. This is our creative contribution to the weekend. It is authentic to our personal perspective because the history, craftsmanship and ideology behind it simply inspires us. Stay true to quality and put forth your best effort to share, sell or promote art. In the end, a cross-generational, multi-perspective, multidisciplinary, diverse celebration will equate to energy, understanding and appreciation for our community. Art-A-Whirl will only ever be what we make it as a whole collectively… and in this case the more the merrier.
40 years of the MayDay Parade:
A retrospective installation at Public Functionary
Exhibit is open for viewing during Art-a-Whirl hours
Friday, May 16th: 5-10pm
Saturday, May 17th: Noon-8pm
Sunday, May 18th: Noon-5pm
Free and Open to the public.
More info. On Facebook.