Just over a decade ago, a group of local artists gathered and came up with a plan to take advantage of Carver County’s beautiful fall surroundings to attract visitors to their studios.
They called it Art Wander.
The event has since become a regular attraction on the fall calendar, marking its 10th anniversary Sept. 23-25. From potters to weavers, painters and illustrators, stained glass artists, woodworkers, sculptors and jewelers, all artists are excited to share their work in a self-guided tour of 15 studios across the county.
Several original artists are still on the tour and many new ones have joined – over 30 artists in all this year.
Art Wander is patterned after the Art Meander art crawl held annually at the head of the Minnesota River Valley around the western Minnesota communities of Ortonville, Appleton, Madison, Milan, Dawson, Montevideo and Granite Falls.
Organizers of that event held starting later in the month – this year Sept. 30 – Oct. 2 – were helpful in guiding the development of Art Wander, according to Clark Machtemes, 2022 event lead organizer, along with Waconia’s Jon Schmidt, of Jonthepotter fame. He also points out that advantage of Art Wander for area art enthusiasts is they don’t have to travel 150-200 miles to the western edge of the state and spend a full day touring.
Art Wander is a chance to visit with local artists and see their creative processes and unique work spaces. That’s a benefit to the artists and visitors, organizers note.
It gives artists an opportunity to display their work outside of a gallery setting, make connections in the community, maybe make a sale and possibly even get some commissioned work. For visitors, it’s a chance to see and acquire beautiful art against the backdrop of the countryside and fall colors along what’s known in western Carver County as the “edge of the Big Woods.”
A tree rooted along those woods has been the visual for Art Wander since inception. The event also is rooted in this phrase from fantasy author J.R.R. Tolkien: “Not all who wander are lost.”
While difficult to track participation numbers, it’s estimated that Art Wander will attract around 1,000 visitors over the weekend. Historically, the event has drawn not only art enthusiasts, but folks out for an afternoon drive or exploring other destinations in the county.
As an incentive to wander into their studios, participating artists have created special pieces of their work and donated them as prizes in drawings that Art Wander guests will win. Have a “wander & win” form signed by an artist at eight or more Art Wander studios, complete the form and drop it off at any studio for a chance to win one of these works of art. The drawings will be held in early October. You need not be present at the drawing to win.
Machtemes points out that all Art Wander tour participants are juried artists, not crafters.
“If I can do it, it’s not art,” he jokes.
Machtemes might not be able to do visual arts, but he can do music and his popular “roots music” band Traveled Ground will kick off Art Wander weekend next Friday evening, Sept. 23, 6-9 p.m., at Schram Vineyards.
For more information about Art Wander go to the event website: www.artwander.com. Art Wander brochures also are available at various locations around town.
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