“The Meander originated from a wish to see the arts in western Minnesota develop with some of the same opportunities that urban arts areas have, like that of northeast Minneapolis and lowertown, St. Paul,” said Sherman. “For many years, artists along the Upper Minnesota River Valley have had a strong drive to share their art experience.
The 10th annual Meander Arts Crawl event will be held on October 4-6. The Meander is a free self-guided tour of artist studios, featuring 45 local artists from the Upper Minnesota River Valley.
The Meander has become a tradition for friends and relatives to experience the “hidden gem” art studios, small towns and family farms to be found along the tributaries of the Minnesota River. A free brochure detailing the locations of the art shows will be sent to anyone who calls 1-866-866-5432. The brochure can also be downloaded from the web at: www.artsmeander.com.
“This deep love of place, combined with original art and promotion of ecotourism has proven to be a winning combination for the Meander region,” according to regional planner Kristi Fernholz of the Upper Minnesota Valley Regional Development Commission (UMVRDC).
The Meander has become an economic engine for this rural part of the state, generating hundreds of thousands of dollars in art sales and economic activity over the past decade for area hotels, restaurants and retail locations – all based on the authentic culture of the rural region. The event has grown every year since 2004.
“We attract visitors from eight states throughout the Upper Midwest. You can’t buy the kind of word-of-mouth name recognition that comes with a high quality event like this,” Fernholz added.
But the most dramatic growth has been found at each artist studio as the artists work to create new and exciting art each year. “Our artists are pushed to make their studios better and their artwork more plentiful and available. Our area’s artists have gotten to know each other better and have found a wonderful way of working together,” said Fernholz.
“I like the exchange of ideas involved through the new art that is created each year,” said Sherman. “I also enjoy the sense of participation with those who make the Meander happen and those who visit and interact. Seeing the Meander continue to grow is very rewarding for everyone.
“My favorite part of the event is talking to people who have come from a number of studios and hearing their favorite parts,” said Fernholz. “I also love getting work ready for Meander and to receive some feedback directly. It helps me as an artist to grow as an artist and to get encouragement to create more work.”
The weekend will begin with studios opening at noon Friday, Oct. 4, and an Opening Night Celebration from 4- 9 p.m. featuring music, food, walking theater, historic tours and entertainment centered around the downtown shops in downtown Granite Falls.
Art studios throughout the region will reopen at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 5, and culminate with a bluegrass, folk, old-time and acoustic country music concert with Robin and Linda Williams at 7:30 p.m. at Memorial Auditorium, 601 9th Street, Dawson. For ticket information call the box office at 320-769-2955, ext. 246 or visit www.dawsonboydarts.org. On Sunday, Oct. 6, art studios will again be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.