350,000 People Crowd Into Mpls Weekend Art Fairs

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — For art lovers, it’s the biggest weekend of the year, and for artists like Cindy Krotz, it’s a chance to get some notoriety.

Overcoming the obstacle of a stroke four years ago is what drew Krotz to a love for painting. She’s among the featured artists at the Powderhorn Art Fair, one of three art festivals drawing huge crowds to Minneapolis.

Krotz is one of a handful of disabled artists on display at Rise Incorporated’s Art Speaks booth at Powderhorn Park. Two other art fairs are drawing art enthusiasts to Loring Park and the Uptown area.

Sajal Chavan is volunteering with the Art Speaks project and she says the their work there has a lot of fans.

“We’ve heard a lot of people say some of the best artwork they’ve seen at the fair. So that makes me really happy,” she said.

That’s saying a lot, as customers stroll leisurely past the jewelers, potters and painters, eyeing the art and catching a tune from the occasional musician.

“It’s just relaxing, just fun to watch all the different types of art,” said fairgoer Wendy Peterson.

For avid art fans like Peterson and Bill Benjamin, they’ll hit all three fairs. Moving from Loring to Powderhorn and then to the biggest one in Uptown. That’s where more than 350 artists will attract a projected crowd of 350,000 people over the three-day fair.

“I love the creativity, I love all the types of art and how people take something and turn it into something meaningful,” said fairgoer Bill Benjamin.

One of the most notable and famous artists at the Uptown fair is actually better known for his talents in the NFL. Matt Blair spent nine seasons as an all-pro Vikings linebacker, but now he’s more comfortable behind the lens of his cameras, taking photos ofs landscapes and creatures.

“It’s a surprise because I guess I never showed anybody my work when I first started out in my rookie year,” Blair said.

It wasn’t until he landed with the Vikings in 1974 that Blair says he could even afford a camera. Now he’s attracting fans for his keen sense of composition and love of nature. His photographs of a grizzly bear and bald eagles are something to behold.

“To see their movement and lifestyle and how they operate, to capture that on camera, it’s the world’s greatest thing for me,” Blair said.

Of the 350 artists at the Uptown Art Fair this year, Blair is the commemorative print artist. He spent weeks capturing shots of Uptown’s people just to get a single shot that would be selected for the commemorative 2011 print.

The Uptown’s Maude Lovelle says his presence helps to further broaden interest in all arts.

We just got a proclamation from the mayor that the first full weekend of August is arts weekend. Now everybody recognizes that it’s great,” Lovelle said.

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