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Uptown Business Hosts Mini Art Fair To Help Local Artists Hurting In Pandemic

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- This week would have the one of the largest art festivals in the state, but for the first time in its 57-year history, the Uptown Art Fair was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"When we knew the uptown was cancelled due to COVID, we wanted to put on just a small event to support the local art community," said Tonya Bryan, who owns Local Motion Boutique on Hennepin Ave. in Uptown.

She turned the inside of her store and the back parking lot into a mini Uptown Art Fair, featuring six Minnesota artists in tents outside, and other artwork, clothes and jewelry inside.

Bryan says the Uptown Art Fair normally brings in about 100,000 people in foot traffic during one weekend. She wanted to give a space for Minnesota artists to sell their creations to during the same week that they're used to selling the most.

"It's like 90% of my income comes from being in art fairs," said Holly Keller, the owner of Beeper Bebe.

Keller makes handcrafted, recycled children's toys. She's been able to move her business to online sales on, but she says it's not making up for what she gains during the Uptown Art Fair.

"The loss of the art fair is loss of spirit and motivation because you don't get that opportunity to interact with the public and get all that feedback from them," said Keller.

Art Scene Recovery Uptown Festival
(credit: CBS)

The Uptown neighborhood has been hit twice this summer -- the pandemic, as well as extended closures and damage to businesses from the riots in June, which is why Bryan wanted to create this recovery opportunity.

"It's super easy just to buy from Amazon, but really think who you can support that's smaller and more local," said Keller, "The artist community is just hurting so much right now."

Local Motion will be hosting a second "mini" Uptown Art Fair September 25-27. Bryan says she's going to be bringing in even more Minnesota artists for the second one.

You can also donate to the Uptown Association, which puts on the art fair each year.

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