The NEMAA blog is a platform for us to share our members work and their stories, and a hub for information about the NEMAA community.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Board President Brenda Kayzar's May Letter to NEMAA Members

Dear Members,

As this newsletter arrives, I know where your focus is; Art-A-Whirl weekend!  The buzz of

activity and excitement in NE can be heard miles away.  Tracy Singleton, the owner of

Birchwood CafĂ© in Longfellow was thrilled to showcase this year’s NEMAA Artist Directory

and can’t wait to see her artist friends this weekend in their studios. Similar sentiments have

been shared in encounters throughout the Cities.  Even more fun was overhearing the

conversation of a young couple in line in front of me at Lund’s downtown.  They were debating

where to start their arts exploration on Saturday, which would include a lunch stop along 13th and

a sampling at a brewery.  So, here’s to arts exploration and the opportunity to extend the day and

number of buildings traversed with a little sustenance stop here and there at a local NE business

offering food and libations!

By now you’ve seen the elegant Artist Directory celebrating 20 years of Art-A-Whirl.  A

heartfelt and huge round of applause goes out to Todd Thyberg of Angel Bomb for offering us

the wonderful red ‘wax seal’ design.  The use of wax seals on important correspondence and

documents can be traced to Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley, and was later used as a way to

authenticate the granting of certain privileges.  It is a fitting design for the cover of a directory

that grants potential arts buyers the privilege of guiding them to the artists and studios in NE!

We hope the beautiful directory will also encourage buyers to increase the number of red dots

produced in every studio this weekend as well!

And we are all about red seals and red dots at NEMAA this year.  We delivered 63 huge 3-foot

red dots to buildings throughout NE to help draw attention to the places where art is being

produced and sold.  In addition the NEMAA member stickers for your door, which feature the

wonderful red seal, we’ve distributed red dot ‘I Bought Art’ stickers for buyers to wear proudly.

And the wearer will get a discount at a number of local NE businesses.

We persuaded Metro Transit to again offer free bus passes to NE so they can dispense potential

buyers at your door (without the hassle of looking for a parking space).  Be sure to let your

clients know they can get the free bus pass on NEMAA’s website.  And they can use the trolley.

We’ve arranged for Stillwater Trolley to move potential buyers easily from building to building.

Remind them the buses and the trolleys are great ways to transport artwork to their homes!

We’ve also wrangled use of some parking lots from businesses and these will be marked by

NEMAA event parking signs (tell your clients to look at the map in the directory or visit the

NEMAA website).  But leave those parking spaces in front of your buildings free.  Artists can

also use the bus pass and trolley.  We know some of your clients will want to drive, so make it as

easy as possible for those potential buyers to spend time with you!

Finally, congratulations to our artist members who submitted proposals to do something special

for the 20th.  They’ve received stipends to help them produce something memorable to

participate in, watch, or take away during Art-A-Whirl this year.  I could go on about the Social

Media Toolkit, Information Booths, and cadre of talented workers and volunteers… But instead,

I will close by saying that I wish you all an amazing Art-A-Whirl weekend on this extra special

occasion that marks 20 years of arts practice and community.  Enjoy the milieu that is you!!


Brenda Kayzar

Art-A-Whirl & Artist Directory Team

It takes a village – of mostly volunteers including board members, a small diligent staff, a few professional contract workers, and some awesome interns – to coordinate and support Art-A-Whirl and our annual Artist Directory & Guide! This year, I am so fortunate to work with the wonderful individuals listed below on the Art-A-Whirl and Directory team, along with a few featured volunteers who go above and beyond. I would also like to extend a special thank you to our very dedicated NEMAA Board members.  In addition, we rely on over 150 volunteers every year to help with our Art-A-Whirl Silent Auction, information booths, and more, and we can’t thank you enough for the time, energy, and enthusiasm you contribute to Art-A-Whirl.
Thank you all so very much! Here’s to a successful Art-A-Whirl!
Alejandra Pelinka, NEMAA Executive Director
Photo of Alejandra Pelinka

Anna Becker
NEMAA Office Assistant/Development Associate
Anna has a background in ceramics, and lately has been working on tile projects for her own home. Her favorite aspect of Art-A-Whirl is walking into a studio or gallery and discovering an artist whose work speaks to her. Perhaps she can afford to purchase a piece then and there, or maybe she will save up her money so that someday she can call a great work of art her own. In either case, she follows artists' careers with interest, tells her friends and family about them, and revisits their studio again and again.

Kate O’Reilly
NEMAA Marketing Coordinator
Kate lives, eats, breathes and loves Northeast Minneapolis. A writer and marketing pro, she helps with promotions and communications at NEMAA. She resides with her partner and children in the Audubon Park neighborhood and is excited to ride the trolley to see as many demonstrations as possible during Art-A-Whirl weekend.

Marilyn Miller
Artist Directory & Guide – Advertising Coordinator
It is great to blend my passion of advertising, publishing, sales & the arts when working on the NEMAA Artist Directory. I appreciate being part of this project with NEMAA and working with the vibrant NE community. The wonderful thing about Art-A-Whirl is the unique opportunity to meet the artists, see their studios and find that treasured artwork to take home.

Joan Nygren
Artist Directory & Guide – Graphic Designer
When I was growing up in Minneapolis during the fifties and sixties, there were just a few art galleries and artists. Most knew each other. In general, we were considered misfits and disrespected. Today’s strong art-community, hundreds of artists and art studios, with the incredible diversity of work, is way beyond what I could have ever dreamed — a rare gift for all of us. I’m grateful to be here, now.

Heidi FitzGerald
Artist Directory & Guide - Editor
Heidi FitzGerald is a freelance editor (, optioned screenwriter and playwright.  Her creative works have been presented across the nation and she continues to develop new works for stage and screen.  She loves Art-A-Whirl because of the opportunities it gives both patron and artist to appreciate and support one another face-to-face.

Ben Walytka
Artist Directory & Guide - Proofer
Graphic Designer at Bolger. BFA Graphic Design University of MN Duluth. This is my second year working with NEMAA pre-flighting the ads for the directory. I enjoy working with the NEMAA staff and meeting all the great artists at the proofing session. Looking forward to 2016....

Kathy DeKrey

Art-A-Whirl Volunteer Coordinator
Kathy, a resident of Minneapolis for the last 8 years, is an active lover of the Minneapolis Arts community. She enjoys helping get folks from all backgrounds interested and involved in creative expressions. She is really excited to join the Art-A-Whirl team to continue her passion of getting more people involved in the arts, as well as helping to grow the reach of one of her favorite art events.

Madison Elyse Rubenstein
Art-A-Whirl Silent Auction Installation Coordinator
I’m a painter and printmaker currently living in South Minneapolis. I truly enjoy working with NEMAA- they are an awesome organization filled with some of the hardest working people I know. I’m excited for Art-A-Whirl because of the opportunity to connect and share experiences with tons of amazing artists and supporters. I will be a guest artist in Hilary Greenstein’s studio at the California building, 206a during Art-A-Whirl. 

Kaylee Weycker
Art-A-Whirl Silent Auction Coordinator Intern
My name is Kaylee and I'm a junior at the University of St. Thomas. I'm the captain of the women's rugby team and the Vice President of Professional Activities for my professional business fraternity, Delta Sigma Pi. I have a rescue dog named Dorothy and love to travel.
I'm very excited for everyone to see the incredible talent in the pieces that some NEMAA artists have contributed to the silent auction this year! This is my first time working with Art-A-Whirl and it has been an amazing experience. 

Michael “Bear” Meyer
Volunteer –  Art-A-Whirl Trolley Guide
Retired from 42 year career in the music industry. Two adult children and two grandchildren. Hobbies include travel, wood working, landscaping and volunteer activities. This will be my third year as a volunteer Art-A-Whirl conductor on Trolly #1. 

As a conductor my job is to get our guests, along our route, on and off the trolley safely and to their destination. I also provide tips on what locations they might want to check out especially to those who are first timers, and, where the food and bathrooms are located. I enjoy this position as you get to meet our guests face to face and have a lot of fun with them. 

I have fun dressing the part including renting a wonderful Passenger Agent cap from The Guthrie Costume rental shop which they now refer to as the Art-A-Whirl cap. 

My “all aboard” is getting pretty good and I try to get our young passengers to help me shout it out. The atmosphere of Art-A-Whirl is festive and fun. And, you also get to meet many of our great volunteers and staff. A great way to spend a weekend while supporting the arts. 

Emma Welter
Volunteer – On-Call Art-A-Whirl Volunteer
I live in Minneapolis and work for Old Tom Foolery, a local greeting card company; I'm also a freelance proofreader with various creative projects on the side. Although I'm a Minnesota native, my introduction to Art-A-Whirl came only after I returned from five years living and studying in England, and it was one of many events that reaffirmed for me how uniquely innovative and welcoming Minneapolis is. The contagious enthusiasm among artists and attendees alike is my favorite aspect of Art-A-Whirl – it's like the State Fair without all the grease and with less risk of a nasty sunburn. I can't wait to be a part of it this year by helping out as the On-Call Volunteer.

Marnie Erpestad
Volunteer – Artist Directory Distribution
I am a photographer from Minneapolis. I take black and white photographs of everyday objects as a means of investigating human relationships. I love the way Art-A-Whirl unites people and strengthens the community through shared enthusiasm for the arts.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

NE Resident's Guide to Art-A-Whirl - Family Friendly Edition

by guest contributor Jamie Schumacher

I wrote a little guide for some of my friends tackling Art-A-Whirl for the first time. I sent it to on to NEMAA for their amusement (tour guide in training!) and we thought it would be fun to post this to the blog as well in case it’s helpful for anybody else!

A little background; Art-A-Whirl was my first real entrance to the Northeast Arts Scene, via Altered Esthetics gallery. Art-A-Whirl is organized by NEMAA, a local nonprofit organization serving Northeast Artists. Full disclaimer: I've been volunteering on and off with NEMAA for about 10 years and I heart them. They are an amazing organization and have grown this event tremendously in the past few years. Their current director Ale is just fantastic and she's been helping grow the capacity of the organization as well as the quality of their programs and events. Between her and an amazing board, it's a great time to do Art-A-Whirl, as it's run like a well-oiled machine at this point. :) 

I used to have to work every Art-A-Whirl at the gallery and/or as a volunteer with NEMAA. I got a little burned out at one point, so for a year or two we had plans out of the district (it gets pretty crowded in our hood.) But for the past few years I’ve renewed my love for the event - it's been so awesome to just be able to go around Art-A-Whirl and enjoy it as a participant and not as a worker bee. It reminds me of how much I love this community and where we live. :)

Sooo - Art-A-Whirl is an open studio tour of over 50 locations, hundreds of studios. (Throughout the locations, there are over 600 artists participating.) That's what makes it unique - unlike outdoor art fairs you're going from studio to studio instead of booth to booth, and building hopping throughout a pretty big district. So it can easily be overwhelming for a first timer just by the scale of it. In addition to whatever your personal preferences are, here are some of the spots I think would be the most fun and exciting to do with kids. Art-A-Whirl is a huge draw, bringing upwards of 30-40K people into the district, some estimates are higher. And now many local restaurants and taprooms also offer large scale music performances during the weekend, so there is something for everyone.

How to Arrive
- While there are options for free buses into Northeast, (Thanks Met Transit!) the inevitability is that most folks will be driving in. But you’ll be happier if you plan on ditching your car at some point and getting where you need to go by bike, foot, or trolley.

Things to Bring
- stroller (one of the lightweight ones, this is easier to fold up for the trolley and creates less of a jam)
- snacks (though there are restaurants and food trucks everywhere, snacks are good to have for the kiddos. Nothing sticky.)
- water bottle (easy enough to fill up at any of the major stops, buildings, or TAP water locations)
- cash / card (Most take Square but some vendors don't. There are also a few ATM’s in studio buildings)

You'll be happier the lighter you pack. An ideal situation is if you can leave items at a base location and then trek around Northeast.

Where Things Are
Here's a map that shows various artist locations, studio buildings, and the trolley route. The trolley stops right at, or within a short walk, of most major buildings. Most artist locations are within the Northeast Minneapolis Arts District, but there are locations throughout all of Northeast as well.

Okay – the studio buildings. There's a good list of the major studio buildings here:

You will pass most of them on the trolley so you can always do a long loop and then embark where you want to go. 

A Few Must-Sees, in my Opinion
Thorpe Building - this building has a super interesting layout and is fun to wander around. Here you’ll be able to see the BRICKMANIA (lego) shop - they do a ton of fun stuff for kids. Random Trivia: Their owner Dan Siskind was the founder of Profane Existence record labels and is awesome.

Q'arma Building - this is where AlteredEsthetics home base used to be, my personal entry to Northeast. There will be pottery demonstrations, live music, and a variety of fun stuff to do. This is where Frostbeard Candles is located (Frostbeard has wonderful nerdy book-themed candles for book lovers. Like, butterbeer scented candles, etc. Go during Art-A-Whirl and come back during Christmas to get uniquely awesome gifts for the book lovers in your family.)

13th Avenue – loads of shops, gifts, things to do. A good place for food times. Anchor Fish and Chips has a giant festival behind their space with live music and other sorts of fun. 

Going to those three alone could take up a whole Saturday. Another good rule of thumb is to pick up an Artist Directory beforehand and plan out any places you want to go. There is an Art-A-Whirl map in there and some zoom-ins, as well as great studio building descriptions (including history of the buildings!)

There are breweries and beer stops throughout Northeast, and there will be food trucks everywhere - in addition to a ton of restaurants in the district, food and drink should never be a worry. 

Here is a list of family friendly studios (in the Art-A-Whirl FAQ section of NEMAA's website), and family friendly events


The sheer amount of artwork throughout Northeast can be overwhelming, but less so if you tackle Art-A-Whirl the right way.  It’s is a great way to experience so much of what the neighborhood has to offer! Stop by on any or all days of the weekend, and hang on to the Artist Directory and come back again throughout the year. Even after more than a decade of living and working Northeast, I’m still discovering new things all the time and finding new artwork to love.