Heart of Whirl

Star Tribune staff | Updated 8/17/2012

As Art-A-Whirl returns to northeast Minneapolis this weekend, much of the action will center on 13th Avenue -- arguably the most eclectic street in the city. We took a tour of some of the best galleries, businesses and nightspots on 13th.

158: Who Made Who

When you see the poster, it transfixes you, its inexplicableness almost grotesque. It's modeled on an Olan Mills-style family portrait, with a heavily made-up blonde laboring to hold a stilted pose. Seated lovingly beside her is a grizzly bear, its musculature weirdly human and its mouth set in a dignified frown. This masterpiece of creepiness, well known to anyone who frequents St. Paul's Turf Club, was designed by the great Miss Amy Jo, and is one of many prints available for purchase at the 13th Avenue screenprinting studio Who Made Who.

"I like to think that it's Lisa Hartman," says Miss Amy Jo, studying the Stepford Wife in the poster. "But Dale thinks it's the woman from 'Night Court.'"

Dale is Dale Flattum, aka TOOTH, a fellow screenprinter who, along with Amy Jo and Lonny Unitus, opened Who Made Who in 2007. Together, the trio has created some of the most memorable rock posters in recent memory. Designs from both Miss Jo and Flattum have been selected to appear in the forthcoming "Gig Posters Volume I," a compilation of the 101 best prints from www.gigposters.com, widely regarded as the nation's premier resource for concert art.

For Art-A-Whirl: The crew will open its studio to visitors, allowing gallery crawlers to get a peek at the screenprinting process and maybe buy some prints while they're at it. (www.myspace.com/whomadewhostudio)

  • Gregory J. Scott

208: Behind Bars

Bike shops seem to decorate every corner of Minneapolis, so it takes dedication and a little spunk to keep customers pedaling back. Behind Bars bike shop is in its fifth year of business, and the wheels are turning faster than ever before. The busy spring-summer season has arrived, and Northeast's only full-service bike shop is stacked with repairs and custom orders. Owner Chuck Cowan says it's his favorite time of year.

"Well, it's a love-hate relationship. We look forward to summer while we're bored all winter, but when it hits, it can get a little overwhelming -- just at first," Cowan says. "It could always be busier."

A commuter-centered shop, Behind Bars also attracts a lot of single-speed riders and caters to the mountain-bike crew, as well. BB's spacious garage shop rocks out with various tunes and an open-door policy. All types of riders are welcome, as are dogs.

"We just want to get people on bikes and stop driving their cars so much," says Cowan.

For Art-A-Whirl: Be sure to cash in on the Behind Bars annual Art-a-Whirl sale, which offers a 1 percent discount for each year of the fest's existence. That makes this year's bargain 14 percent off every tangible item in the store. "Next year will be 15 percent off and that's when the discount-scale ends," Cowan says with a laugh.

  • Amber Schadewald

329: Erté & the Peacock Lounge

Unwind after a day of gallery hopping at Northeast eatery Erté and its adjacent Peacock Lounge. Erté's dining room serves some of the best-priced brisket ($16.50) and steak ($17.50-$26) in town, along with a respectable menu that features a sunflower seed-crusted walleye ($18) and an organic salmon steak ($20.50). From 7 to 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, you can take in live jazz and lounge music while you dine. If you're just in the mood for a drink, the laid-back yet elegant Peacock has one of the best Northeast happy hours: From 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, get $2 off its vintage-styled cocktails, half-price beer and half-price bottles of wine. (612-623-4211.)

  • Jahna Peloquin

331: 331 Club