Mosquitoes, mayflies and spring planting are off to a slow start this year, but not artists. Anoka County creatives threw open their studios last month, and St. Paul has already hosted its spring art crawl and the American Craft Expo.

The pace picks up with three free events this weekend and two more later in the month. Urbanites eager for a country drive can head east to Wisconsin, north along the St. Croix River or west to Lake Minnetonka. Or stay in town and do one-stop shopping Saturday night, check out art-for-a-cause next week or roam hundreds of studios in northeast Minneapolis later in the month.

Here’s a sampler of options:

Lake Minnetonka

Technically a first-time event, the Lake Minnetonka Studio Tour is a more compact version of a spring open house that artists have held in the western suburbs for several years. Just 22 participants will be at eight sites this year, mostly near Hwy. 7. All are veterans of the local crafts scene. They’ll sell functional ceramics, beaded jewelry, wooden furniture and kitchen utensils, paintings, ornaments and fabric art in home studios that they’ve spruced up and turned into shops for the weekend.

“It’s community-building for us artists, too, because a lot of what we do is very solitary,” said Jeanne Rostad, a fiber artist who recycles neckties and other garments into clever purses and pretty patchwork bags. “People you’ve never known stop in, and old friends and, in my case, relatives from Wisconsin are definitely coming. It’s really fun.”

10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sat.-Sun. •

St. Croix River Valley

Long a haven for artists seeking creative space, great vistas and enough land for a garden, the St. Croix Valley is home to at least two spring art tours.

This weekend’s “artOPENer” bills itself as an opportunity to see where art happens, “From the Gallery to the Backyard.” The 20 participants are an eclectic lot of glass blowers, jewelry makers, potters, painters, printmakers and sculptors who will be showing in nine studio/galleries at sites stretching south from Stillwater to Hudson and River Falls, Wis.

“Usually, gardens are starting to green up, but that isn’t happening now, so this year it will be all about the artwork,” said Ruth Misenko, owner of the Seasons on St. Croix art gallery in Hudson, where four potters will give demonstrations throughout the weekend. Glass-blowing and print-making demos will be held elsewhere, and potter Zac Spates plans to turn out some pizzas in his kiln “just to have fun,” Misenko said.

10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sat.-Sun. •


Maybe spring really will have sprung a week from now when the St. Croix Vallery Pottery Tour lures fans north to seven rustic studios near Taylors Falls, Center City and Harris, Minn. Now in its 21st season, this is a highly focused pottery-only event that features 50 top ceramicists from 15 states and, for the first time, Scotland. Collectors come from all over the country to buy museum-quality platters, vases, teapots and other functional ware displayed in architect-designed showrooms, converted barns, or on trestle tables under canopy tents in woodland meadows.

10 a.m.-6 p.m. May 10-11, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. May 12 •


For one-stop fine-art shopping, the Traffic Zone building offers noteworthy amenities, including valet parking this year. The 31 painters, photographers, printmakers and sculptors are established professionals whose long careers and commissions have burnished their reputations nationally, even internationally. Their styles range from colorfully expressionistic paintings to surrealistic photos, Pop-style public art, and austere conceptual sculpture. Dress sharp for this one. Studios are open only Saturday evening, but the Traffic Zone gallery will show a sampling of the artists’ work, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays through May 24.

5:30-9:30 p.m. Sat. • 250 3rd Av. N., Mpls. •


As art parties go, Art-A-Whirl is a weekend-long bohemian paradise with some 500 artists showing and telling all at 70 sites in northeast Minneapolis including studios, galleries, homes, storefronts, businesses and restaurants. Expect free shuttle buses, info booths, a 120-page directory, guides, trolley rides, maps, a silent-auction fundraiser, gift certificates, music and more. There’s even an Art-A-Whirl Passport to encourage the adventurous to tour the territory, collect location stamps, and enter a drawing for a $200 art-purchase prize.

5 p.m.-10 p.m. May 17, noon-8 p.m. May 18, noon-5 p.m. May 19 •