Fourteen artists are featured, often in the spaces where they live and work.
James Gabbert always longed to be a sculptor.
He spent his childhood sketching and building. He studied art in college. But the family furniture business beckoned.
For three decades, he funneled his creativity into Gabberts Design Studio and Fine Furnishing, forecasting home furnishing trends and creating a sophisticated aesthetic for the stores’ showrooms.
“It fed the artist,” Gabbert said.
When he retired as CEO in 2008, he returned to his first passion — sculpture in bronze and steel. He’s one of 14 local artists who will show their work at the Fourth Annual Eden Prairie Art Crawl on Sept. 28-29.
Gabbert’s first public art installation, “Soaring Bird: Peace Through Service,” can now be experienced in front of the Eden Prairie Community Center.
The crawl gives arts patrons a chance to meet neighborhood artists and often to see where they live and work. Gabbert, 61, will display his sculptures on his back patio overlooking Bryant Lake.
This is his first year exhibiting. Last year, he and his wife, Barb, were patrons, visiting other artists along the crawl.
“There is something about buying local that is stronger than it’s been in a long, long time. There’s a growing interest in supporting the arts,” Gabbert said. “It’s fun. The best part is, you get to meet the artist. That is a rare opportunity in a typical art gallery. You also get to bump into neighbors and friends out and about.”
The art crawl, sponsored by the city, is part of a rising arts scene in the suburbs, said Lindsey Danhauser, who supervises the event and the city’s art center.
“We’ve got such a wide range of talent out here,” she said. “These events are highlighting and showcasing the breadth and depth of the artists we have out in Eden Prairie.”
The city also is expanding its arts programming. Local artists will have more open studio time at the Eden Prairie Art Center, 7650 Equitable Drive. The city-owned center will now be open four days a week. The center, which was donated to the city and opened in May 2009, includes a pottery studio, jewelry studio, fused glass studio and space for painting and drawing. It’s also a stop on the art crawl.
Use of the art center climbed last year to 970 visits from 720 in 2011. “It was just more awareness of the programs. People took classes and liked it and just kept coming back,” Danhauser said.
Gabbert studied art and business at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, but his artistic urges succumbed to the pull of the family furniture business. When he joined the family business, he stopped sculpting. “I was fortunate to be in a business where there’s a lot of aesthetics to it,” Gabbert said.
His retirement in 2008 was a second chance, he said, but it took several years to rediscover his skills. He sold his first sculpture in 2010.