Thousands of people look forward to the famed Uptown Art Fair every year; a casual weekend to shop, see performances and catch up with friends. This year, however, the fair was plagued by bad weather and took on a more somber tone with the I35 W Bridge collapse still fresh in hearts and minds.
Even in the face of cold rains and recent tragedy, residents came out and showed their support for the hundreds of artists and performers; estimated attendance was 320,000 over the course of the fair. According to Maude Lovelle, executive director at the Uptown Association, this year marked the first in 10 years that it has rained all day. “People who weathered the rain on Saturday were serious buyers and many folks huddled inside booths to get a closer look which made for increased sales.” Many reported sales for individual pieces ranged from $1,000 – $4,000.
The 44th Annual Art Fair featured a host of new events this year including a celebrity art auction, a literacy booth with appearances by Miss Minnesota and author Terri Ford and performances at Old Chicago. All events got great reactions from the crowds. Lovelle reports that performances were often times standing room only and over half of the 14 performers signed up for next year on the spot. All the pieces featured at the celebrity art auction sold and proceeds were donated to the Minneapolis Public Schools art programs. Plus, the Tomorrow’s Stars Seen Today program giving child artists aged eight to 18 the opportunity to produce and sell original art recorded a record $3, 561 in sales.
When asked about the overall experience, Lovelle calls one memory to mind, “I was especially happy that we were able to do something to reach out to the victims and their families of the 35W bridge collapse. When we heard that the Governor had asked the assistance of the Salvation Army to help defray the costs of funerals for the affected families, we called the Salvation Army headquarters and invited them to them to bring their red kettles down to the Art Fair. We were told that they collected the highest one day total ever for this cause at our event. We were proud to be a part of this effort in some small way. I think it speaks volumes for the art fair, its participants, its visitors and the Uptown community.”
Plans for next year’s Fair are already in full swing with the Association evaluating comments and reactions from every audience to determine how to make it even better. Even with their biggest event behind them, Lovelle assures to “watch out for more communication from the Uptown Association office, a monthly newsletter, an update of our website and networking opportunities for the community.” They will also be working on ideas brought forth from a local business survey conducted in June.
The dates for the 2008 Uptown Art Fair are August 1 – 3.
Jacqueline Varriano is an ECCO resident wondering if the man on 31st actually got anyone to pay $7 for parking on his lawn.