Watercolor painter Barb Morrison is excited to be joining the LoLa Art Crawl for the first time, and to be able to show off the recently renovated Millworks Lofts as a site on the crawl. “Millworks Lofts is a landmark. Built in the early 1900s. It was used as a factory which made all the doors, staircases, crown moldings, built-in buffets all around the country,” she says.
She’ll be hosting four other artists at 4041 Hiawatha Ave., in an area that used to be a horse stable. “The interior of our space is very unique in that it has the old beams, open floor plan, very high ceilings! Also, the natural light is beautiful,” she said. Morrison has been waiting to include this unique space as part of the art crawl since she moved in three years ago. “I have tried to include Millworks in the Lola crawl but because of COVID-19, I couldn’t for two years.”
The League of Longfellow Artists (LoLa) is welcoming new artists and spaces along with the return of old friends for the LoLa Art Crawl, Sept. 17 to 18, with 92 artists at 44 sites, new colorful yard signs dotting the neighborhood, and print directories (with maps) to assist visitors in finding them all, or as many as they like.
This is the 12th annual neighborhood-based tour of local art organized by LoLa since 2009, skipping only 2020 because of COVID-19 and the destruction caused by civil unrest after the murder of George Floyd. Last year, as the community was still recovering from all that, LoLa held a scaled-back version of the event without asking local businesses for sponsorship support.
All of which makes this year’s art crawl a kind of revival celebration not just for the artists, but also for several small businesses and organizations that had been forced to close.
Squirrel Haus Arts opened in 2015 at 3450 Snelling Ave. as a neighborhood arts center with studio and exhibition space for local artists. Owners Michael and Donna Spidie Meyers recognized a kinship with LoLa right away. “Our commitment to supporting LoLa began the day Squirrel Haus Arts opened,” says Michael Meyers. “[During] each LoLa Art Crawl, they place six or seven artists in our space. We enhance [the experience] by creating special events to help draw attendance. This year it will be free life drawing sessions.” Squirrel Haus has also made their space available for LoLa organizational meetings and for LoLa’s Winter Fine Arts Exhibition, and is a sponsor of this year’s art crawl. For more information, visit www.squirrelhausarts.com.
For the Vine Arts Center, this year’s LoLa is a true rising-from-the-ashes comeback. Located on the second floor of the Ivy Arts Building, 2637 27th Ave. S., it was one of the many spaces badly damaged after a fire spread to the roof from the nearby Hexagon Bar on May 29, 2020. The repairs and renovations have taken two years to complete and now the art center is ready to open again just in time to be a part of LoLa. “We are so excited to announce our grand reopening featuring a member art show,” declares the center’s website. The show opens on LoLa weekend and will remain up through Oct. 29. Several LoLa artists belong to the member-operated nonprofit, including Susan Kolstad, who coordinated with the center’s board and LoLa to make the Vine Arts Center a part of the crawl and to support LoLa with a sponsorship. Regular gallery hours are Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit www.vineartscenter.org.
Many Longfellow businesses support the LoLa Art Crawl by hosting artists, providing space for posters, postcards, and directories, and, for those that are able, placing sponsor ads in the directory. It is truly a mutually beneficial tradition that local businesses, organizations, artists and art lovers welcome back with enthusiasm.
“Art is about community, expression, connection. It can soothe, create dialogue, resolve issues and create others. The League of Longfellow Artists provides an opportunity which binds us together through their art crawl. This is why we support LoLa,” said Meyer.
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