We came, we saw, we Whirled
More than ever, Art-A-Whirl has become something closer to a weekend-long neighborhood block party -- emphasis on the party. Yes, there was still plenty of art to see and studios to wander last weekend in northeast Minneapolis, but there were more live-music events that all but eliminate art from the equation -- namely this year's new outdoor fests at Psycho Suzi's and the Anchor Fish & Chips. Meanwhile, gallery attendance appeared to be down, particularly during Friday openings at Fox Tax, Rogue Buddha and Future Presence, galleries that would be typically packed during the Whirl.
We tried to take in equal doses of both, focusing on art on Friday and music on Saturday -- though the twain would meet on occasion. In fact, some of the best moments of Art-A-Whirl happened when art and music combined into a fully sensory experience. This was the case in performances by ambient duo WolfLords and experimental punk band the Seawhores at CO Exhibitions on Saturday, which were awash with visual projections and fog and surrounded by the multimedia art of Isaac Arvold on the gallery walls.
- Jahna Peloquin
Rusty Quarters needs more quarters
In January, the owners of the Uptown vintage arcade Rusty Quarters -- Sage and Annie Spirtos -- told Vita.mn they were confident they could make their business work one quarter at a time.
"We're doing pretty good," Sage said in January, one month after opening. "Not enough to be millionaires but enough to keep the lights on."
Four months later, Rusty Quarters is struggling. The small storefront in the Lyn-Lake neighborhood is a nostalgic trip, stocked with 20- and 30-year-old games like Donkey Kong, Galaga and Rampage. The novelty seems to have worn off for some customers. Recently, Sage took to the arcade's lively Facebook page to query fans for feedback. He also warned them that this slow period might result in the shop's demise.
Regulars offered up suggestions, such as raising the game cost to 50 cents (the Spirtos want to stick with one quarter). [Update: It sounds like the arcade will move to 50-cent games on June 12.] Some people suggested a PayPal account for donations (which the owners promptly set up on the arcade's website). Others said the owners needed to work on a few things, such as erratic opening times (due to Annie's broken leg, the couple have been late to open the shop on several occasions).
"A lot of people are upset when we open late -- and they have a right to be," Annie told me last week.
The Spirtos are working on a more elaborate window sign to attract customers. They recently took down the last store's signage. Per a zoning law, the arcade has been unable to open earlier than 3 p.m. on weekdays. They hope to expand hours this summer once school ends.
There's no doubt it's an uphill battle for the little arcade that could. Rusty Quarters' Facebook wall is chock full of impassioned messages, with customers promising to make more visits. That's about all the owners can ask for.
Donkey Kong, here we come.
- Tom Horgen
David Lee Roth hits the north woods for video
Perhaps looking for a location that suggested peace and serenity, David Lee Roth took to "the woods just north of Minneapolis/St. Paul" over the weekend to film a video for Van Halen's website that addressed the cancellation of the latter half of their summer tour, which Rolling Stone blamed on infighting. "The band is getting along famously, better than we have in quite some time," the singer insists in the clip, which shows him standing next to a creek in woodsman-looking overalls alongside his dog, Russell. We couldn't help but wonder if the spot was somewhere near Hazelden. Roth and Eddie Van Halen indeed appeared to be best companions on stage Saturday at Xcel Energy Center, but Diamond Dave's less-than-pristine voice supported his claims that "unnecessary roughness" (read: exhaustion) was the real reason the tour is called off after June 26. "We bit off way more than we can chew when it came to scheduling," he said. And then two buxomy babes in skinny bikinis appeared on screen and kissed him on the cheek. No wait, that was another Roth video.
- Chris Riemenschneider