Weekend art fairs return to the Twin Cities

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Around 300,000 visitors flocked to the Edina Art Fair over the weekend, kicking off a summer of art fairs returning to the Twin Cities after a two-year hiatus caused by the the pandemic.

On Sundays, the shopping district of the 50th and France fills with the sweet aroma of popcorn. Children in wagons and buggies enjoyed the colorful snow cones as they rolled through rows of 300 vendor stalls selling art and food in what will be a familiar scene in a dozen or so other art fairs in the metro.

“It really is one of the ‘summer kick off’ events for our region,” said Max Musicant, acting director of the 50th & France Business Association.

Musicant said the theme for this year’s 55th annual fair is community art.

“Community and being together has never been more important, and people are craving it so much after the past two years,” he said. “It’s so exciting to be able to once again welcome artists from across the region and the country, as well as visitors from surrounding neighborhoods and across the state who come to visit the Edina Art Fair.”

Reintroducing the fair after the hiatus meant showcasing many of the new storefronts and restaurants that have popped up in the neighborhood over the past two years, like Stalk & Spade, an all-vegetable restaurant, Altar’d State clothing stores and a Enlarged Evereve.

The Edina cinema marquee read “We Are Back Summer 2022”, after the historic theater was closed during the pandemic. It is reopening soon with new owners who are completely renovating the space.

“It’s a wonderful way to reintroduce people to the 50th and to France and introduce all the new and wonderful things that are here the rest of the year as well,” Musicant said.

New to the fair this year was a children’s coloring contest, as well as an emerging artist showcase intended to celebrate and uplift Minnesota’s up-and-coming artists who offer a diversity of perspectives, backgrounds and ideas.

Among the artists are Indigenous painter and sculptor Inkpa Mani and Teeko Yang, a jeweler who celebrates a community supporting authenticity, femininity and diversity.

Samuel Fleming, 25, of Minneapolis, was among three featured emerging artists who won an award of excellence from the Fair Art Jury. Her hyper-realistic pen and ink works explore history and social justice.

On Sunday, Fleming was working on a jazz drawing commissioned for a client in Chicago, where he attended his first art fair in 2016 at the Wells Street Art Festival. He said his first appearance at the Edina Art Fair was his most successful art fair to date. He sold many prints and gained more followers on his fledgling Instagram.

“I can connect with people in a unique way,” he said of his art. “It’s fun and it excites me.”

The artist, who holds a bachelor’s degree in economics, is in the process of obtaining a master’s degree in architecture from the University of Minnesota.

“It’s a bit more rigid. I mean, there’s math. But here you can be completely free and creative,” he said.

John Anderson, 59, of Richfield, said he had been going to the Edina Art Fair for around 20 years, which was as long as he worked at Edina’s Lunds & Byerlys. The grocery store parking lot was crowded with food trucks over the weekend, and he said his regular customers abandoned the store for street food.

“Most people love going out and being around people again,” he said, chewing on a corn dog. “It’s good for Edina…lots of walking and eating.”

Art fairs are scheduled for next weekend in Roseville, Excelsior and White Bear Lake, as well as the Shadow Falls Art Fair in St. Paul.

The Stone Arch Bridge Art Fair returns June 18-19, followed by the Columbia Heights Community Art & Info Fair on June 23 and the Eagan Art Festival on June 25-26.

The Wine Meets Art Festival in Stillwater takes place July 9-10, followed by the Minnehaha Falls Art Fair July 15-17. On July 16, Maple Grove hosts the Arbor Lakes Art Fair.

The Loring Park Arts Festival returns on July 30 and 31. The first week of August will host the Uptown Art Fair and the Powderhorn Park Art Fair.

In September, the fourth annual St. Louis Park Art Fair takes place on the 10th, the same weekend as Edina’s Fall Into the Arts Festival at Centennial Lakes Park.

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