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Fall back strategy: Art crawl moves up to Oct. 22

Melodie Needham, left, and Val Lundgren look over items people will see on an art crawl scheduled for Oct. 22 at about 20 downtown businesses. Debbie Griffin photo.

What better a time for appreciating art than when a brisk wind has begun to swirl colorful, crackling leaves?

It beats post-Thanksgiving weather, when snow likely will have conquered fall's colors.

That thought helped a local group decide to organize the annual Main Street Art Crawl for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22, instead of holding it the same day and weekend as the holiday-themed Riverdazzle festivities.

"We have 20 businesses and 27 artists," said Val Lundgren, owner of Karma Gifts and an Art Crawl organizer.

The event is sponsored by the nonprofit Community Arts Base and the downtown Business Improvement (BID) Board, in association with local businesses Dish and the Spoon Café, Karma Gifts and Mary Reisdorfer Photography, as well as participating artists, businesses and individuals.

The idea of the crawl hasn't changed: Browsers pick up a map -- at either Karma Gifts, 204 N. Main St., or Harmony Hair Design, 128 S. Main St. -- then follow it to the places and art they want to see.

People can buy artwork, visit with the artists, and take advantage of special food and activities during those hours.

Part of the mystique of the crawl is that the maps showing who will be where with what won't be available until the day of the Art Crawl.

Besides what participating businesses will offer, special Art Crawl food will include Kettle Korn on Elm Street, caramel apples at the Custom Needle on Main Street, and toasted almonds plus fresh fudge at Karma Gifts.

The Dish and Spoon Café plans to have pumpkin painting for kids on its back patio at a price of $5 and a free 4x6, fall-backdrop family photo by Reisdorfer in the garden area.

Kids can decorate a treat bag at Riley's Growing In Style, 209 N. Main St,. or get a henna tattoo at Zaney Janey's, 208 N. Main St. People can also catch a weaving demonstration at the Riverwalk Art & Antiques, 127 N. Main St.

Lundgren and Needham said that in observance of breast-cancer awareness month, Horizon Family Chiropractic, 109 N. Main St., will donate that day's proceeds from chair massages to the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

People can enter a prize drawing if they collect a stamp on their card from at least 20 of the 27 artists.

The need-not-be-present-to-win prize drawing for Chamber dollars will be held at 5 p.m. inside Karma Gifts.

Overhaul to fall

Artist and owner of Harmony Hair Design Melodie Needham said she and another artist began the annual Main Street Art Crawl 12 years ago.

She had thought to herself a few times that the art got lost in the fervor of Riverdazzle and bustle of holiday displays and shopping.

Needham said the idea has always been to merge arts with the businesses and people downtown.

She acknowledges with a smile that once the weather turns bitter cold, "People will crawl for chili but not arts."

She pitched the date-change idea to Lundgren, who said "OK."

They connected with artists through CAB, which has extensive contacts through its annual Art on the Kinni event.

Lundgren, whose husband is a photographer, displays his and other art in her store, so he had contacts, too. And the organizing began.

Needham said "We're gonna decorate downtown and really hope it has an autumn-fest feel."

Lundgren agrees and explained a little sugar-motivated competition: "Whoever decorates their shop the best gets fudge."

She said the organizers chose artists who have a good "price point" and that it was interesting to assemble a lineup.

The tried to match the art and its logistics to the different spaces available and tried to make sure the crawl didn't include too much of any one kind of item. Lundgren and Needham say they even had to turn a few artists away.

The Art Crawl will feature works by people from the area -- mainly River Falls, Hudson and Ellsworth.

Visitors will see various pottery, decorative glass, watercolor, fiber, jewelry and works in other media.

The two say they took on organizing the event because they're passionate about the arts and keeping them alive, as well as aware of much artistic talent in the St. Croix Valley.

Both women hope for good weather, more characteristic of a mild fall than a brutal winter -- and no blizzards. They appreciate the artists coming to spend time at the Art Crawl and want it to be a good experience for them and for visitors.

Lundgren summarized: "The idea is just to meander downtown, visit the shops and maybe get some Christmas shopping done early."