It's time the public gets a sip of the creative juices flowing in St. Paul's West End neighborhood.
So says a contingent of neighbors who have banded together to organize an inaugural art exhibit to show off the work of artists with ties to the community surrounding West 7th Street.
It's as much about building community as it is about showing off.
"We're mainly doing it to flush people out and see who's in the community that we don't know," said Paulette Myers-Rich, an artist and exhibit organizer. "We just happen to have a critical mass of artists."
Artwork -- ranging from drawings to paintings to sculptures -- from more than 50 artists of various ages and skill levels will be on display. The artwork will hang in the Pilney building, an old building near the intersection of W. Seventh St. and Randolph Av. that used to house a grocery store and meat market.
"We can showcase what a vibrant and creative community we have here," said Rachel Gorski, an exhibit organizer. "I think artists often work under the radar and are holed up in their studio."
The show, organizers say, will give artists a way to connect with one another.
The West End is an economically and culturally diverse neighborhood of newcomers and working-class families whose roots go back generations.
Once heavily industrial, the historic area is attracting more housing and businesses. Plans are in the works for redevelopment of the old Schmidt Brewery, and they include rental housing specifically for artists.
While there are art galleries and studios, artists aren't necessarily concentrated in one district, Myers-Rich said.
But the vibe is definitely integrated throughout the area. Neighbors, artists and friends recently formed West End Arts to promote and nourish arts in the neighborhood.
Joe Landsberger, a neighborhood booster, has lived in the West End for 30 years. He says the area is going through a rebirth of sorts, noting the renamed West 7th Business Association, construction projects along West 7th and a recent neighborhood garden tour.
"This attests to the solidity of the neighborhood," Landsberger said. "There are pockets with foreclosures, but I think it's just a strong, stable neighborhood."
The idea for the show, by most accounts, sprouted from Landsberger, who suggested it at a community meeting.
"It seemed like the time was right," he said.
With the support of the West 7th/Fort Road Federation, the area's district council, a broad group of people have stepped up to take on the tasks of organizing an art show.
So far, so good, organizers said.
Artist Virginia McBride has a studio on the West End and will submit a charcoal drawing called "Respiration."
She's looking forward to the event as a way to show the community how much art resides there, and to see what other ideas could spring forth to benefit the neighborhood.
"It contributes to the vitality of the place," she said.
Chris Havens • 651-298-1542