Art and business walking hand in hand

LINDEN HILLS — It was this past winter when Cindy Smedberg was up North for the annual Ely Art Walk, that she got the idea.

It came as Smedberg was strolling the downtown business district of that city on the edge of the Boundary Waters, taking in the hundreds of pieces of art hung in storefront windows.

What a wonderful way to connect artists with local businesses, she thought. And it seems so easy to organize, too.

Why not try this back home?

Smedberg, an art teacher at Barton Open School, was still mulling over that thought when, several months later, she found an old upright piano sitting out in an alley near her Linden Hills home.

“I couldn’t bear to see the piano go to the dumpster,” she said.

Smedberg rescued the battered instrument and gave it to a friend’s daughter, a budding artist at South High School. Now painted sky blue and covered in swirling colors, the piano is the signature piece for this month’s first-ever Linden Hills Art Walk.

About 40 neighborhood artists of all ages — from creative children to professional artists — have signed on for the art walk. Their work will go on display in 20 storefronts in the small business district near the intersection of Upton Avenue South and West 43rd Street.

It wasn’t just her visit to Ely that inspired Smedberg to organize the art walk. It was the sheer number of talented artists, like the South High School student, living in her neighborhood, she said.

Many, like co-coordinator Sarah Ivers, have produced art for years but rarely, if ever, shown it publicly. Ivers, who makes art mostly for family and friends, said she was excited to get a little more exposure.

With each artist allowed to submit up to five pieces for the show, there could be up to 200 pieces of art on display, many of them for sale.

The Art Walk opening Aug. 16 will coincide with the final night of the Linden Hills Live summer concert series, held 6:30 p.m.–9 p.m. in the Linden Hills Business District.

Mark Daehlin, a fine artist known for his nature scenes, plans to create a painting during the concert that will later be auctioned off for charity.

With just a couple weeks to go before the art walk, Smedberg has high hopes for its potential to bring together artists, neighbors and local business owners.

“This is such a special little neighborhood,” she said. “We consider this our downtown.”

The Linden Hills Art Walk runs Aug. 16–Sept. 3. Work by about 40 local artists will be displayed in storefronts near the intersection Upton Avenue South and West 43rd Street.

Art walk maps will be available at Sebastian Joe’s, 4321 Upton Ave. S., and Dunn Bros, 2814 W. 43rd St.