In 1991 the Saint Paul Art Collective introduced the Art Crawl to connect its artists to the public. The event was intended to be more intimate than the art fairs that had been held in the Twin Cities for decades. The artists had carved out new studio and living spaces in the former warehouses and industrial buildings of downtown, and they invited the public into those spaces in hopes of establishing lasting relationships.
 
Thirty years on, the Art Crawl has expanded in size and scope, to the point of needing a larger framework. “This year we’re running a series of events, breaking the mold of the three-day weekend,” said David Evans, a founder and currently president of the Saint Paul Art Collective’s board of directors. “We felt the Art Crawl had become too large to experience, and the participating artists had long desired to see what other artists are doing. It made sense to have events that are more manageable for visitors and give the artists a chance to be inspired by each other’s work.”
Jazz Central
Macalester-Groveland artist David Amdur's series of paintings of musicians at Twin Cities venues will be among the works featured during the Saint Paul Art Crawl's Lowertown segment on October 1-3.
 
This fall the Art Crawl is being held over seven weekends from September to December. Following its kickoff on September 12 at Celtic Junction and a three-day event at the Solidarity Street Gallery on Payne Avenue, the Art Crawl moves to Lowertown on October 1-3, to Harriet Island and the Virginia Street Church in Ramsey Hill on October 8-10, to the Schmidt Artist Lofts on West Seventh Street on October 15-17, and along the Green Line from Union Depot to the University and Raymond neighborhood on October 22-24. The Art Crawl will close with a weekend of exhibits and events on December 3-5 in District del Sol on Saint Paul’s West Side.
 
Barbara Evan, an abstract painter, will be taking part in the October 8-10 event. Her studio is located in the newly remodeled Warehouse 2 at 106 Water St. where, “on the fourth and fifth floors there will be painters, drawing artists and printmakers with styles from traditional to contemporary and everything in between,” she said. “Artists working in textiles, wood, clay, jewelry and other 3D materials will also be exhibiting.”
 

“There are young artists coming up today who envision making a living making art,” Evans said. “That wasn’t a possibility for those who came along in the ’70s and ’80s. We believe the Art Crawl played a part in changing that perception.

 
Evan has been involved in the Art Crawl for the past 20 years. “It’s been terrific for me as an artist and a person,” she said. She especially likes the new format. “Now artists can go and see the works of other artists, and there is so much for the community,” she said. According to her, children especially benefit, not only from seeing the art but from seeing and talking with the artists.
 
“The Art Crawl began because there were so few opportunities for artists to show work in the 1980s,” said Evans, who is a painter, photographer and sculptor. “We decided we could represent ourselves and turn our studios into galleries. Our intention has always been to encourage new artwork, but public recognition that artwork has value is essential to an artist’s self worth.
 
“There are young artists coming up today who envision making a living making art,” Evans said. “That wasn’t a possibility for those who came along in the ’70s and ’80s. We believe the Art Crawl played a part in changing that perception.
 
“By being exposed to a wide variety of art, people attending the Art Crawl learned what they appreciated. They learned they could have art in their home that had deep personal meaning made by a local artist they got to know.”
 
For more information on this fall’s Art Crawl, visit stpaulartcollective.org.

— Anne Murphy

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