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Downtown Shakopee’s Art Crawl: Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

The weekend’s art crawl welcomed budding newcomers into the Minnesota art world.

It was the perfect weekend for a self-guided art tour. September exited and October appeared in the gentlest transition. Through the newly changing leaves and remarkable fall colors, Mother Nature herself seemed to participate in the Scott County Art Crawl and the easily walkable streets of historic downtown Shakopee offered a comfortable backdrop to a lazy Saturday afternoon of contemplating art. 

So where was everybody? 

Despite idyllic conditions with abundant warm sunshine and a pleasingly light breeze, the streets of downtown Shakopee were surprisingly quiet during the Art Crawl. This was in disappointing contrast to last year’s bustling art weekend. Artists and attendees speculated that the low attendance was due to the Crawl competing with popular events like Friday night’s Homecoming and the Renaissance Festival’s final weekend. (And if the traffic on 169 was any indication, that’s a pretty safe bet.) 

Those who did choose local art over armored jousting were met with the opportunity to chat one on one with the participating artists in the intimate settings of local businesses. Flower shops, hair salons and government buildings doubled as pop-up art galleries for a day and a half as area artists set up shop next to items for sale, shelves of library books, and a hair stylist at work with a client. 

The Scott County Art Crawl—in its second year and with over 20 artists represented at 11 locations in downtown Shakopee out of a total of 66 artists across Shakopee, Jordan, Savage and Prior Lake—is not Art-a-Whirl. And while attendees expecting as much would likely have been disappointed, nor should it really be compared with Northeast Minneapolis’ highly anticipated and celebrated annual art crawl. This weekend’s art event in downtown Shakopee offered something different and merited in its own right.

Twice during my visit Saturday afternoon, artists recited a popular idiom as their reason for choosing to participate in the Art Crawl this year: Nothing ventured, nothing gained. By the end of my self-guided tour, it seemed especially fitting. While downtown Shakopee did have some more seasoned artists to showcase, like Todd Jacobs and Linda Ann Taylor, for many artists, the Scott County Art Crawl offered a chance to get their feet wet in the art world. For several artists I spoke with, this weekend marked the first time they had ever shown their art publicly. 

Shauna Ruthenbeck, whose husband owns where her artwork was shown, does decopage and photography. Now with grown children and after years of pursuing art as a hobby, Ruthenbeck said she joined the Art Crawl because she is “finally getting brave enough to take some risks.” 

Maggie Dolan, who works in the travel industry, said her photography has been living in her computer for years. With the Scott County Art Crawl as her first showing as a photographer—and in fact the first time she’s had professional prints made of her work—Dolan is now considering entering other art events as well. 

Some of the most notable work in Shakopee’s corner of the Art Crawl was found at Tupelo—a credit to the shop, as all the artists featured at Tupelo, Judith Case and Zack Theis, were not brought in specially for the event. Both artists sell their work there regularly. 

While the Scott County Art Crawl may not yet be able to join the ranks of the more established art events in the metro, it is still young. And there’s something appealing about an art event that is completely unpretentious and unintimidating. Budding artists and art-interested locals would do well to support the event as it enters its third year. 

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