If you didn’t make it across the river to Minneapolis earlier this spring for the annual ARTCRANK party, fear not! The insanely popular bike-art print event is making a pitstop in St. Paul this Friday, at our own Amsterdam Bar & Hall. The local event, which spawned numerous national and international exhibitions of the same name, is an apt example of what bike culture means to the Twin Cities. Dozens of printmakers and designers prove their artistic chops (and their love of cycling) with reasonably priced bike-themed prints, and of course there’s a great party to go along with it all. Make your way down to the Amsterdam this Friday for art, beer, and a bicycle-friendly atmosphere–we promise you won’t regret it.
We had a little chat with ARTCRANK founder, Charles Youel, about the beloved event and his favorite places to bike in our fair city…
How did ARTCRANK start?
The seeds of the idea for the show started germinating in 2006. I was working for an advertising agency in Minneapolis, and basically just needed a creative outlet that didn’t involve clients, budgets, meetings or agency politics. I’ve always loved bikes, and working with graphic designers instilled a fascination with printing, especially posters. After seeing what Jeff Johnson of Spunk did with Poster Offensive, I thought to myself, “People might dig posters about bikes.” Turns out they do.
You’ve now taken ARTCRANK to cities all over the country, and even the world. Did you ever expect such a big response?
Not at all. I still go into every show with a sense of amazement at how bicycles inspire creativity in artists and designers, and how many people see their own lives and experiences reflected in the work. I’ve stopped trying to imagine where things might go next, because the reality has turned out better than anything I’d dare to dream up.
What’s your favorite ARTCRANK memory?
I tend to get pretty locked in to management mode at our openings, which means I’m constantly on the prowl, making sure that the posters are hanging straight, that there’s enough change in the registers, that the beer hasn’t run out, that people are having a good time. When we did our first show in London in 2010, in the middle of the opening, my wife tracked me down in the middle of the room, grabbed my hand and basically dragged me out across the street from the venue. The place was full, and there were people lined up waiting to get in. She said, “I just want you to stand here and enjoy what you did for a minute, OK?” That one’s pretty hard to top.
What can people expect this weekend at the Amsterdam?
It’s basically the last chance for people to check out and buy posters from our 2012 MSP show. We’ve never done an event in St. Paul, and Amsterdam is just down the block from Big Table Studios, who do a lot of printing work for our shows. Being named after perhaps the world’s greatest bike city, it seems like the perfect place to hold a closing party. Plus they’ve got an amazing selection of beers, which cyclists seem to have a fondness for.
What are some of your favorite things about St. Paul? Any good places to bike around here?
St. Paul is chock full of places to ride. One of my favorite rides is to follow East River Road down to Shepherd Road, which takes you right down along the river into downtown. From there, it’s fun to pick your way around Lowertown, maybe grab a pint and a bite to eat, then head over by the capital and back up the hill to Summit Avenue. From there, you’ve got a majestic, tree-lined spin all the way back to the river, which you can follow all the way over to the U of M campus. If you’re Minneapolis-bound, the Midtown Greenway is just a little ways from the Marshall Avenue/Lake Street bridge.