In the late 1970s and early ‘80s the Lowertown district of St. Paul was a neighborhood of empty parking lots and abandoned warehouses quickly falling into disrepair. The affordability of the warehouse spaces attracted artists, and Lowertown quickly became the center of the St. Paul art scene. In 1977 a contingent of Lowertown artists founded the Saint Paul Art Collective with the mission of protecting spaces for artists to create and increasing the awareness of the crucial role that artists play in the greater cultural life of the Twin Cities.
The art crawl also dates back to 1977, when the founding artists of the Saint Paul Art Collective had their first group exhibition at the Union Depot. In the decade and a half that followed, the artists of the collective continued to hold loosely organized group events in and around downtown St. Paul. From 1981 to 1985, the collective also ran a critically acclaimed fine art gallery in Lowertown called the Wall St Gallery. In 1991, the Collective decided to coordinate a multiple building, weekend long, open studio event, and the Saint Paul Art Crawl was born. The five buildings that participated in the first Saint Paul Art Crawl were the Jax, 262 Studios, Lowertown Lofts Artist Cooperative, the Tilsner Artists’ Cooperative, and the Northern Warehouse Artists’ Cooperative. Due in part to the work of the Saint Paul Art Collective, all five buildings still house artist studios and participate in the biannual Art Crawl.
The Saint Paul Art Collective has been hosting the Art Crawl ever since, with the number of participating artists now exceeding 300 and the number of visitors averaging around 20,000 for each semi-annual, three-day event. The most recent Art Crawl boasted seventeen participating buildings in the Lowertown and Downtown neighborhoods alone. The Art Crawl is not limited to those two areas, however. In the mid-2000s, locations along University and Grand Avenues as well as in the Eastside and Westside neighborhoods of Saint Paul began participating.
Recognized for its tremendous success, the Saint Paul Art Crawl has become a model arts event that is emulated in cities across the country. To the artists and residents of Saint Paul, the event means much more. The Art Crawl has evolved from a fun weekend art event to a framework for creating and fostering important, interdependent relationships between the arts community and the city of St Paul. The Collective and its member artists receive a tremendous amount of support from residents, businesses and local government in order to stage an event of this magnitude, and in return they’ve given Saint Paul a close-knit, vibrant and energetic art community that actively contributes to the greater Twin Cities cultural landscape.
About the Saint Paul Art Collective
Since 1977, the Saint Paul Art Collective (SPAC) has empowered artists in the Lowertown neighborhood by expanding connections and protecting inspirational spaces for artists to create and grow. Recognizing that art is essential for a healthy and vibrant community, SPAC runs and supports projects, initiatives and events that increase the awareness of its artists, their work, and the crucial role they play in the greater cultural life of the Twin Cities. The Saint Paul Art Crawl has been the Collective’s cornerstone event for over twenty years.
St Paul Art Collective
255 E Kellogg Blvd
St Paul MN. 55101
Saint Paul Art Crawl
308 Prince St #206
St Paul MN. 55101