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LoLa Art Crawl will return to Longfellow this September

While the Uptown Art Fair was canceled and the Powderhorn Art Fair was primarily virtual this year, art lovers can look forward to an in-person LoLa Art Crawl.

MINNEAPOLIS — When your house is part art studio, part art gallery, you get used to having guests.

"I had 40 students coming here every week," artist Bob Schmitt said.

Due to the pandemic, Schmitt canceled classes and focused on his own work. He's known for painting calligraphy and Minnesota landscapes but found new inspiration in his time alone.

"I decided I would do a mammoth, 15-foot-long piece on the Grand Canyon," he said. "The beauty was, it could just be on this table for months and I didn't have to hurry up because students were coming."

Now the activity is picking back up, as Schmitt reopens Laughing Waters Studio for classes and prepares for an event he co-founded more than a decade ago called the LoLa Art Crawl.

LoLa, or League of Longfellow Artists, offers art lovers the opportunity to view and buy art at different locations within Minneapolis' Longfellow neighborhood.

While Schmitt now serves as a sponsor and an artist, Stephen Clark is one of the volunteers.

"Individual makers have any wide array of decisions around whether they show under tents in their front or backyard, we have photographers that have gallery lit converted garages that are amazing spaces to show art and then there are other artists that will invite us into their homes," Clark said.

This year, 60 artists will showcase and sell their work at 30 different sites.

"Within one mile of many of the parts -- most of the parts -- of Longfellow, the third district precinct house was the epicenter for last summer's social unrest after the murder of George Floyd and we're deeply connected to the neighboring 38th and Chicago community," Clark said. "We have guest artist exchange programs, where we're collaborating with artists all throughout the Twin Cities and definitely felt a call to express solidarity."

Clark says LoLa's sponsorship base usually comes from small businesses along E. Lake St. and Minnehaha Ave.

"We felt that we weren't going to be soliciting financial contributions but we absolutely want to invite and encourage inside and outside of Longfellow to come visit us and experience the vibrancy," he said. "We've done extra things this year to reach out to African American communities, Somali communities, First Nation, Indigenous communities."

With COVID top of mind, each artist is expected to decide and communicate any rules they'd like to enforce. After all, for artists like Schmitt, this is home.

"I will provide masks if they don't have them," Schmitt said. "We're thrilled to be able to host it again this year," Schmitt said.

The LoLa Art Crawl is held on the third weekend of Sept. each year. This year's dates are Sept. 18 and 19 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The same weekend, but during the evenings, Praxis Gallery is planning a series of artistic experiences along the Midtown Greenway.

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