by Vicki Ikeogu
When all is said and done, Mary C. Bruno estimates she will have put in about 100 volunteer hours coordinating the annual holiday art crawl.
But for her it is a labor of love.
“There are definitely test-of-strength moments,” Bruno said. “But I do enjoy, on some level, organizing stuff like this.”
For the sixth consecutive year, Bruno of local print shop Bruno Press has overseen putting together the annual Holiday Art Crawl.
From 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 25, hundreds of people from all around Central Minnesota will gather along Minnesota Street to explore local businesses, hear local musicians and peruse the shops for gift items from artists.
“I’ve been to a lot of art crawls and art shows where I’ve seen tons of similar artists selling the same things,” Bruno said. “And with that, things become way too over-saturated. So for this, I only invite artists I like and artists who I will barter or buy from. I have high standards.”
The 2017 Holiday Art Crawl will have five stops this year: Minnesota Street Market, the Local Blend, Bad Habit Brewing Co., Bruno Press and newcomer Rockhouse Productions.
“We love to support all kinds of art,” said Jeff Vee, Rockhouse Productions president. “And we love to support this cool little town.”
Vee said he has been wanting Rockhouse Productions, 23 W Minnesota St., to have a stop on the annual crawl for years. This year, everything seemed to fall into place.
On Saturday, Vee said, Rockhouse Productions will host artists American Craftsmen Woodworking and Burly Babe Woodworking along with musician Carrie Schneider, who will perform from 1:30-3 p.m.
“For us, any opportunity to support artists is a win,” Vee said. “The Holiday Art Crawl gives us a chance to show off our business so people can see what we do here. And, honestly, we are just thrilled to be a part of it all.”
Pia Lopez, board president of Minnesota Street Market, said this is the third year the co-op has been a part of the Holiday Art Crawl.
“We’ve been a food-and-art cooperative since the beginning,” Lopez said. “The art crawl is a really fun and social thing for people to do.”
Lopez said Minnesota Street Market, 27 W. Minnesota St., will be the first stop on the crawl. The co-op will host Desi Murphy Pottery, Nita’s Knots and Longshadow Woodworks. Live music from Aksel Krafnick will entertain visitors from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
Bad Habit Brewing Co. is also in its third year of hosting the annual art crawl. Owner Aaron Rieland expects this year to be even busier than years past.
“Mary (Bruno) has been doing a lot more promotion for the event,” Rieland said. “I love Mary and I love what she’s doing. It’s great for the City of St. (Joseph) and it brings awareness to the downtown area.”
Bad Habit Brewing Co., 15 E. Minnesota St. Suite 108, will host Katie Ballantine Pottery and Janelle Carlson Candles.
Other artists on the art crawl include Angela Ness Art hosted by the Local Blend and Kim Tschida Petters Paintings and Textiles hosted by Bruno Press. Bruno’s work will also be on display in her shop, 154 Fifth Ave. SE.
The Local Blend, 19 W. Minnesota St., will also have live music from Chris Laumb from 3:30-5 p.m.
To help offset some of the costs associated with the event, Bruno has opened the Holiday Art Crawl for sponsorships.
“A good number of small businesses are supporting us,” Bruno said. “Because they realize when people come for the day they eat, drink and shop here. We feel this is a great way to strengthen our local economy.”
The art crawl has received two silver-level sponsors: Daisy A Day Floral & Gift and Milk & Honey Ciders.
In addition, Bruno has secured a shuttle service for the art crawl. Starting at 10:30 a.m., a shuttle will pick people up from the church parking lot on the corner of College Avenue and Minnesota Street and drive them to all five locations. The shuttle service will run every 20 minutes.
The shuttle will also make stops at Milk & Honey Ciders and Daisy A Day once an hour starting at 1 p.m.
To help entice people to visit all five art-crawl locations, Bruno has developed a postcard-style “passport.” Customers can get this passport punched at every location. If visitors make it to all five stops they can place their completed postcard – with their name, email and phone number – into a drawing to win five gift baskets worth up to $250.
Even though Bruno said putting on the art crawl, especially around the holidays, is a lot of work, she hopes her efforts will help put St. Joseph on the map.
“My hope is people will spend their money here,” she said. “My goal is to have St. (Joseph) become a destination stop for people.”
Vicki Ikeogu is a local freelance reporter from St. Cloud. Ikeogu is a 2015 mass communications graduate from St. Cloud State University. Ikeogu was previously the business reporter at the St. Cloud Times. She currently works as a transportation planner for the Saint Cloud Area Planning Organization.