Mimi Stewart used to frequent art auctions in Chicago's Old Town, in an artist colony where she and her husband, Terry, lived in the 1960s.

"You would bring in a piece that you no longer wanted, and that would be your admission into the event," she said. "It was a cool concept."

Stewart, who now lives in Hopkins and is a member of the Friends of the Hopkins Center for the Arts, said that was the inspiration for the center's upcoming event dubbed, Art From the Attic, a sort of art-filled garage sale slated for this Saturday, July 11, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. It'll be housed in a tent along 8th Avenue in Hopkins.

The artsy sale is a creative approach to recycling. "There's an awful lot of art sitting in closets and attics that could be put to some sort of interesting use," said Stewart, who serves on the Friends' event committee. "You can take something that someone isn't interested in anymore and let someone else have the opportunity to enjoy it."

The sale is intertwined with the city's Artery Experiment: An Open Streets Event, which aims to test out plans for the coming Artery, an arts-infused and "pedestrian-seductive corridor that connects Mainstreet with the Downtown Hopkins LRT station," according to city information.

Susan Hanna-Bibus, executive arts director at the Hopkins Center for the Arts, said via e-mail that the Artery Experiment will "provide a taste of what kinds of activities may be expected on the Artery, information on the project, and a chance for the public to provide feedback."

On Saturday, as a part of the Artery Experiment's festivities, live music, art exhibits, food trucks, roving artists, temporary work by a professional chalk artist, opportunities for children to create artful crosswalks, free bike tuneups and more, will take place along the avenue.

Additionally, people will be able to bike or walk the Artery route, which extends from Excelsior Boulevard to the Minnetonka Regional Trail, just north of Mainstreet, Hanna-Bibus said.

Giving old art a new life

In preparation for "Art From the Attic," some weeks ago the Hopkins Center for the Arts put out a call for any artwork that people had in storage, which they wouldn't mind donating for the sale, said center staffer Jo Clare Hartsig.

The focus was on two-dimensional work, with nothing to exceed 45 inches in height or width, according to center materials.

The idea is to give the artwork a new life and to raise money for the center.

"We don't know of anyone else doing this but we thought it'd be a fun experiment," she said.

On an overarching level, the sale's objectives are twofold: that is, it supports community art and it offers an easy way to spruce up the home, Hartsig said. The sale's tagline is "reduce, reuse, redecorate."

Any art that doesn't sell will go to Bridging, a local nonprofit organization that provides household goods to people transitioning from homelessness, its website states.

"It's something that people don't think of when they're in dire straits," she said. At the same time, when settling into a new place, "Wouldn't it be nice to have something beautiful on the wall? It enhances the hospitality of a home."

"Art From the Attic" has been well received by the community, and so far the center has collected over 100 pieces of artwork, which includes a wide variety of originals and reproductions of drawings, photos, paintings, fine art textiles and etchings.

Everything will be sold at affordable prices — most pieces will be under $100 — so "people can get some nice things at not huge prices," Hartsig said.

The sale is a creative way to highlight the fact that the community has "a lot of people who collect art and a lot who produce art. Any way that we can help the community know about it is good for us, the artists and the collectors," she said.

Likewise, all summer long, the center has initiatives in the works to "make art more visible and accessible to the whole community," Hartsig added.

On Saturday, the center has also arranged for a number of "plein-air" painters, who paint in the open air, to add to the atmosphere of the Artery Experiment. "We'll have people literally out there, chronicling the event in oil paint. It's a throwback way to know what's going on," she said.

The center will also encourage people to check out the six new sculptures that were installed along the city's so-called Artstreet areas this past spring.

Each sculpture, all of which vary wildly, will be on display for a year as a part of an ongoing project that began in 2010. It's a joint effort between the city, Hopkins Business & Civic Association and the Friends of the Hopkins Center for the Arts, according to its website.

That project further underscores that "there's all kinds of beautiful art to see in Hopkins," she said.

Cleaning out the basement

Ann Smith of Hopkins had already been cleaning out her basement when she saw a notice about "Art From the Attic."

She figured it'd be a good way to get rid of some of her older works that were collecting dust.

As an artist, "You always love your newest art. When you're showing, you want to bring out the new stuff. … You never want to be your own best collector," Smith said.

So, she dug out a couple of framed pastel still-lifes picturing gladiolas and daffodils, along with some prints.

Smith, who will also be painting "en plein-air," on Saturday, said of the sale, "It's brilliant to recycle and reuse and repurpose," adding that it's also a good way to bring a new audience to the work, not just regular gallery-goers.

Stewart, who will be volunteering in the "Art From the Attic" tent, said she hopes the event might be the first of many.

"We're very excited. We may be onto something fun and new that we can develop further," she added.

For more information about the "Art From the Attic" event, visit the Hopkins Center for the Arts at www.hopkinsartscenter.com/.

Anna Pratt is a Minneapolis freelance writer. She can be reached at annaprattjournalist@gmail.com.