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Guest Curator: Walker Art Center

Oct 27, 2010

by mattjohnsonstudio handmade and vintage goods

GC_Walker_bio.jpgMatthew Johnson is the new director of The Walker Shop for the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, MN. The Walker Shop offers a unique assortment of award-winning contemporary home and office accessories; artisan jewelry; books about multidisciplinary contemporary art, design, and culture; creative toys; and exclusive Walker products. He has been a privately commissioned painter for various clients and was a featured pet portraitist in Boston Magazine’s “Ultimate Guide to Pampering your Pets.” From 2005-2010, he was the Director of risd |works, an innovative hybrid in the form of a retail store, gallery and design showroom that features an annual collection and changing exhibitions of work by Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) renowned alumni and faculty in a variety of media.

In September, my dog Bernie and I moved back home to the Midwest. I actually teared up as I drove through the flatter parts of Ohio. By the time I reached Illinois, the smells made me think of my childhood, my family and all that is dear to me. When I reached Minnesota, I felt I was home. Don’t get me wrong, I loved living on the East Coast for the past ten years. I loved my job, my friends and all of the opportunities given to me while working for RISD. But there’s no place like home and I feel grateful to be back in the Midwest to start my new career at the Walker Art Center. I was honored when asked to be a guest curator for Etsy and immediately knew I wanted to assemble a collection of Minnesotan Etsians.


This stunning Illustration by quantumbill reminds me of my recent journey — bridging my past with my future. The Irene Hixon Whitney Bridge by Siah Armajani is an iconic part of the Minneapolis Sculpture garden, a collaboration between the Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board. I can see the real thing from the front door of my new apartment. 


These small tumblers by utilemud are unapologetically simple and honest. They are perfect for all of the hot beverages I’ll need during my first Minnesota winter. Also, I will be happy as a yeti if our winter is as beautiful as Tree Line Study by robergliden.


Repurposing is my favorite form of recycling and this Illinois vintage puzzle pin by MichelleAndHerDog honors my home state. I also love how Maverickjune has referenced one of my favorite phrases on this recycled felt applique pillow.


Reflecting Frida’s private obsessions as boldly as she did, dwitt75’s skill captured my attention at first glance. The Victorian inspired Rabbit Girl and Wolf Boy cuff by uniqueartpendants is similarly bold and beautiful, mixed with a playful nostalgia.

GC_Walker_4.jpgPlease allow me to be as straightforward as I can on this print on canvas by Locality: I love typography!


Block Bot by williamdohman makes me very happy. Isn’t it amazing how so much emotion is created from blocks of wood, rope, two blue circles and a blue line? The embroidered pendant necklace by septemberhouse makes me want to make things. It’s intimate, precious, and a keepsake.

GC_Walker_6.jpgI want to thank lilfishstudios for creating this type of artwork. We currently carry these little fungi terrariums in the Walker Shop. Your cabinet of curiosities needs one!


The Golden Bent Ring by willaburk (left) reminds me of my favorite minimalist sculptor, Richard Serra. It’s so architectural that I want to crawl inside. I also love the living jewelry created by AdornJewelry. It looks just like the the grass circles imbedded in the concrete walkways in front of the Walker Art Center.


I am in love with the idea of a souvenir — a keepsake to bring home for the memories associated with it. These mini Polaroid magnets by paintedfishstudio remind me to hold on to the things I love and remember all of the wonderful experiences I’ve had.


  • Colettesboutique

    Colettesboutique said 10 years ago

    Wow! so many great picks. I love the wool terrarium... they are just too cute!

  • CountryChicCottage

    CountryChicCottage said 10 years ago

    Wow!! What a collection!! Love that terrarium!!

  • sewnewthings

    sewnewthings said 10 years ago

    That vintage puzzle is DIVINE!!!

  • CatherinetteRings

    CatherinetteRings said 10 years ago

    Awesome !

  • ikabags

    ikabags said 10 years ago

    Formidable ! Thanks !

  • myvintagecrush

    myvintagecrush said 10 years ago

    That grass ring is too cool!

  • TwinkleStarCrafts

    TwinkleStarCrafts said 10 years ago

    Incredible! Thank you.

  • Pinkpjs

    Pinkpjs said 10 years ago

    The terrarium is fantastic!

  • BelieveJewelrySupply

    BelieveJewelrySupply said 10 years ago

    As an Etsy member from Minneapolis myself, I appreciate your article!! You have an amazing job working at the Walker! I love your Etsy picks, very unique!!

  • VivaGailBeads

    VivaGailBeads said 10 years ago

    wonderful article! thanks.

  • SGArtandFashion

    SGArtandFashion said 10 years ago

    Such interesting picks...and the grass ring is utterly intriguing! Thanks for sharing all!

  • MargauxStudio

    MargauxStudio said 10 years ago

    I loved these features! Great to see someone with such a fantastic eye! bravo all the way!

  • jesseBYAH

    jesseBYAH said 10 years ago

    Give it up for Minnesota! I need to visit the Walker soon. It has been too long. Thanks for this story, makes me proud to be a Minnesotan! Even though it's cold and disgusting out today, lol!

  • lauraprentice

    lauraprentice said 10 years ago

    Hooray for Minnesota!!! I recently returned home to Minneapolis and am appreciating home all over again. Welcome back! Ooffda, Youbetcha!

  • NutfieldWeaver

    NutfieldWeaver said 10 years ago

    The Walker is one of many treasures in Minneapolis. Makes me want to go back & visit one of my many former homes. :)

  • shopdomestica

    shopdomestica said 10 years ago

    This is probably the best curated treasury this year - loved everything for it's simple and thoughtful elegance - great job! Love MN peeps!

  • AZCreativeStudio

    AZCreativeStudio said 10 years ago

    Beautiful picks!!!

  • Krystyna81

    Krystyna81 said 10 years ago

    I like your selections and your references to some incredible Artists. I'd love to see the fabulous 2D Art on Etsy celebrated in it's wonderous diversity.

  • minouette

    minouette said 10 years ago

    Wonderful selection! Several were on my favorites - thanks for introducing the others to me.

  • yaelfran

    yaelfran said 10 years ago

    Terrific taste!!!

  • JulieMeyer

    JulieMeyer said 10 years ago

    My husband and I had our first date at the Walker, and we got married next to the big glass fish in the sculpture garden 13 years ago. It was a lovely day and fun to take pics amongst all the great sculptures!

  • Mclovebuddy

    Mclovebuddy said 10 years ago

    love this! walker is one of my all time favorite contemporary museums.

  • Crafterall

    Crafterall said 10 years ago

    A delicious cut of gorgeous Minnesota work, including many of my own faves: dwitt75, utilemud, and AdornJewelry to name few. Welcome to MN, Matthew!

  • KettleConfections

    KettleConfections said 10 years ago

    Just checked out the website of the walker shop: Really like the selection of neat & interesting items there- bookmarking on my browser for future gift purchases!

  • polkadotmagpie

    polkadotmagpie said 10 years ago

    Love this Museum! It's where "Birds in Art" is exhibited every year. Great print.

  • dkalvarez

    dkalvarez said 10 years ago

    so many great and unique ideas in the featured listings.

  • maggiemaevintage

    maggiemaevintage said 10 years ago


  • rarebeasts

    rarebeasts said 10 years ago

    Looks like a great place. That terrarium is cool.

  • jamieribisi

    jamieribisi said 10 years ago

    Wonderful picks from a wonderful museum!

  • VintageValleyGirl

    VintageValleyGirl said 10 years ago

    Great picks from the land of ten thousand lakes and talents!

  • jewelrybyjackie

    jewelrybyjackie said 10 years ago

    Awesome finds from Matthew! Thanks!

  • studioku

    studioku said 10 years ago

    I would definitely go check out there when I go to Minneapolis next time!

  • choisette

    choisette said 10 years ago

    the golden bent ring is almost too gorgeous to wear.

  • MarvelousMelissa

    MarvelousMelissa said 10 years ago

    As a Duluthian, it is great to see the Minnesota creative community featured on Etsy.

  • theroyal

    theroyal said 10 years ago

    i like the mushrooms and the polaroids, cause they are cute.

  • Earleyimages

    Earleyimages said 10 years ago

    This is great.

  • mikelange3

    mikelange3 said 10 years ago

    very nice form mn like to see the art center when I go fishing in walker next spring

  • CositasSeriasVintage

    CositasSeriasVintage said 10 years ago

    LOVE this article!

  • CositasSeriasVintage

    CositasSeriasVintage said 10 years ago

    LOVE this article!

  • decembermoondesign

    decembermoondesign said 10 years ago

    Mr Johnson..The photo of the Walker building coupled with your impressive resume' had me expecting something totally fooled me. I absolutely love this article Matt..let Bernie know his master rocks!

  • pickleberries

    pickleberries said 10 years ago

    Waving from the Bryn Mawr neighborhood on the other side of 394. Welcome to MPLS!

  • ArgyleSt

    ArgyleSt said 10 years ago

    I'm so impressed that Etsy is getting people like this to be part of the Etsy experience. Thanks!

  • breadandroses2

    breadandroses2 said 10 years ago

    The Midwest is a very cool place to live. Glad you've gotten back to your roots! Congrats.

  • lilfishstudios

    lilfishstudios said 10 years ago

    What an absolute pleasure to be included in your round-up, Matthew. I'm a transplanted Illinoisan myself, but I now proudly call MN my home. (though I was calling it other things with this morning's snow....) Thank you, and the best to you in your new position at the Walker.

  • hans1247

    hans1247 said 10 years ago

    I am an even more proud Walker member and citizen of Minneapolis and Etsy. Great work! Come to Minneapolis, everyone!


    ARTLUX said 10 years ago

    Thank you for the great article! I receive so much inspiration from the etsy experience...

  • bionicunicorn

    bionicunicorn said 10 years ago

    Hello from South Minneapolis! I'm so excited to see this feature.

  • CindyLindgren

    CindyLindgren said 10 years ago

    The Twin Cities is a living art museum with diverse artisans and a population that supports and appreciates them. There's no place like it.

  • sacredsuds

    sacredsuds said 10 years ago

    Oh wow! I just relocated to St. Paul in the last year, and I've been dying to get over to the Walker. Now I'm definitely going to have to go! Wonderful article!

  • fromoutofthecracks

    fromoutofthecracks said 10 years ago

    Fun read, the Twin Cites does support the arts, hello from Minneapolis!

  • sweetjane

    sweetjane said 10 years ago

    Great article, everything was picked out with thoughtful meaning behind it. Vey nice.

  • mydogandi

    mydogandi said 10 years ago

    I was so proud to see the Walker Art Center there- not only do I live near there, I am a member! So surprised to see it on etsy :) Love this article.

  • CustomDogBandanas

    CustomDogBandanas said 10 years ago

    Very neat vintage puzzle!

  • cayennepeppy

    cayennepeppy said 10 years ago

    Minnesota has a great artist community!!

  • ragsbysockmonkey

    ragsbysockmonkey said 10 years ago

    MN pride! I don't currently live there but I miss it every day, even when it snows :). Thanks for showcasing all of these lovely MN artists. I know it's not the biggest city ever, but it's a city with a lot of heart and lots of love for the arts. I'll be back soon, Walker Arts Center!

  • MaryFosterCreative

    MaryFosterCreative said 10 years ago

    Welcome to Minnesota and thank you for this thoughtful article highlighting some of our talented artisans!

  • gretchenmist

    gretchenmist said 10 years ago

    wow, such gorgeous finds ~ beautiful style :)

  • paintedfishstudio

    paintedfishstudio said 10 years ago

    it's a huge honor to have my minneapolis polaroid magnets featured amongst all these great artists!

  • MysticLily

    MysticLily said 10 years ago

    I'm a Etsian from Minneapolis! What a nice surprise to find this article and collection from my hometown! Here's a tip - don't miss the 2010 British TV Advertising Awards film - at the Walker from 3 Dec to 2 Jan. It is an annual favorite of mine!

  • sighfoo

    sighfoo said 10 years ago

    wonderful picks! i love the tree line study. so quiet and beautiful.

  • rainydayyarnshop

    rainydayyarnshop said 10 years ago

    Great article. Thanks for highlighting the Walker and some wonderful MN artists!

  • rockfabricscissors

    rockfabricscissors said 10 years ago

    Welcome back to MN! Lots of Etsians in MN and western Wisc. And I love listening to the Current 89.3, big mover in up to the minute music.

  • KMalinka

    KMalinka said 10 years ago

    Wonderful finds and design!

  • Steampunkitis

    Steampunkitis said 10 years ago

    Very nice.

  • Jusadreamin

    Jusadreamin said 10 years ago

    GREAT thanks for sharing, hope you much sucess

  • rozzie

    rozzie said 10 years ago

    Already have some favourites in here. Thanks for sharing yours.

  • ReDFindz

    ReDFindz said 10 years ago

    Very nice. Art is a wonderful Freedom

  • LavenderField

    LavenderField said 10 years ago

    Fantastic collection, and congratulations on your new career!!

  • frenchtoastfriday

    frenchtoastfriday said 10 years ago

    Love the canvas print.

  • Tiques

    Tiques said 10 years ago

    What an amazing and very thoughtful collection. My boyfriend and I were able to visit the Walker this past June and it was absolutely stunning. The architecture, work and store were fun, thought provoking and exciting all rolled into one!

  • pasinwedding

    pasinwedding said 10 years ago

    Gorgeous work

  • ArcSquare

    ArcSquare said 10 years ago

    Block Bot makes me smile:))). Thanks for this article.

  • blueroompottery

    blueroompottery said 10 years ago

    I loved the Walker from the moment I moved here almost 16 years ago from Greece. It was a breath of fresh air and reminded me of Europe. Congratulations on your new position, and welcome back home! It's such a nice place to call home!

  • audreytolove

    audreytolove said 10 years ago

    very nice. good collection!

  • redemptionart

    redemptionart said 10 years ago

    Man alive! Great post, artsy and emotional, I can so identify coming home again, yet treasuring the journey. Love the cuff. Thanks for this tour.

  • cruz55

    cruz55 said 10 years ago

    Hello friends,this is alex.......i m new to this site. ========= Rhinestone Iron

  • andrea0503

    andrea0503 said 10 years ago

    WOW! these are some best picks so far!

  • 2007musarra

    2007musarra said 10 years ago

    Home, it is where the heart is. That's why I never left. Congrats to you and your new post. Thanks so much for sharing the great mix of craftists

  • puddlecraft

    puddlecraft said 10 years ago

    Beautiful collection of items. Poor Block bot, he looks so sad.

  • ByronMorrisArt

    ByronMorrisArt said 10 years ago

    You Old Romantic You!

  • kimmchi

    kimmchi said 10 years ago

    wow great selections!

  • ObeliskFiberArts

    ObeliskFiberArts said 10 years ago

    What a delightful surprise to see the Walker on Etsy!

  • PipingHotPapers

    PipingHotPapers said 10 years ago

    Very cool article!

  • TulleMeAboutIt

    TulleMeAboutIt said 10 years ago

    Great picks! I love the Block Bot.

  • zaperoco

    zaperoco said 10 years ago

    the robot is so cute.

  • DalkullanJewelry

    DalkullanJewelry said 10 years ago

    The necklace with the embroidered flower is so pretty!

  • thestapeliacompany

    thestapeliacompany said 10 years ago

    I love these. That Frida piece is really nice.

  • Mochaware

    Mochaware said 10 years ago

    Very, very nice collection.

  • SylviaJanssen

    SylviaJanssen said 10 years ago

    Great art!

  • jstephens13

    jstephens13 said 10 years ago

    You'll soon be swapping the Illinois pin for a MInnesota one. There's nothing like the Twin Cities, possibly the largest small town. I've spent my life trying to leave them behind while always getting sucked back in and further intrigued in the local art culture. Must be something in the water. Thanks for representing the Walker, the first museum to really inspire me! Jen Saint Paul, MN

  • WilliamDohman

    WilliamDohman said 10 years ago

    I sure love me some typography!

  • mbaune55

    mbaune55 said 10 years ago

    HOME. Thanks for pointing out all these great MPS pieces. Great gifts, but I want them all for myself!

  • katrinshine

    katrinshine said 10 years ago

    Great colection! Love the embroidered pendant! So romantic

  • rebeccasanchez

    rebeccasanchez said 10 years ago

    Such cool stuff! Love the Frida!

  • cholulajewelry

    cholulajewelry said 10 years ago

    MN represent! <3 Minne & its artists. Welcome home!

  • LittleWrenPottery

    LittleWrenPottery said 10 years ago

    Some adorable picks here love the wooden robot. Hope you settle into your new home quickly!

  • RamshackleStudio

    RamshackleStudio said 10 years ago

    There is no place quite like the land of 10,000 lakes...and the Walker is one of my favorite things there! LOVE the bridge illustration! Thanks for taking me on a stroll through my home state - I live in Nebraska now, but will always consider myself a Minnesotan. Amber

  • WalterSilva

    WalterSilva said 10 years ago

    Rhode Island will miss you! Best of luck to you on your new adventures... Great eye and taste!

  • julessabjewelry

    julessabjewelry said 10 years ago

    I love this article... design should have been my major!

  • bodicegoddess

    bodicegoddess said 10 years ago

    Wonderful. I was going to jump on the comments and say that I'd bursting with local pride right now, but I burst even more when I saw all the Etsians from the area who got to the commenting before me! I'm a huge fan of the embroidered pendant - I'll have to keep an eye out for those.

  • pollysyardart

    pollysyardart said 10 years ago

    very nice, some great ideas!

  • mishmishmarket

    mishmishmarket said 10 years ago

    I just saw painted fish studio magnets in the twin cities and loved them! Great post. and great collection of goodies.

  • deepfried

    deepfried said 10 years ago

    Very cool. Will have to see the Walker one day! That ring is amazing.

  • odiliafu

    odiliafu said 10 years ago

    Very nice selection!

  • maverickjune

    maverickjune said 10 years ago

    Wow...SO proud to be part of this Minnesota-based collection! Such fun stuff- living jewelry? How fun is that?! Also love that canvas print and Block Bot. Minnesota you never fail to inspire! Best of luck with the new gig Matthew (and Bernie!)!

  • empressjade

    empressjade said 10 years ago

    thoughtful and unconventional choices. thank-you

  • ohbuckets

    ohbuckets said 10 years ago

    lovely assortment of featured items, Matthew! welcome back to Minnesota!

  • sbmathieu

    sbmathieu said 10 years ago

    Great job Matt! Good Luck in MN!

  • recycledwares

    recycledwares said 10 years ago

    Yeah for MN. You have picked some lovely items. Makes me miss my home up north, Michigan, especially the Tree Line Study.

  • GalleonGal

    GalleonGal said 10 years ago

    lots of interesting artwork nice article

  • wynzia

    wynzia said 10 years ago

    So fun seeing the works of fellow Minnesotans (come-heres and been-heres...adore you all). Makes me thankful to my mom for taking me to the Walker as a kiddo in the 70's. Such a wonderful place.

  • charcoaldesigns

    charcoaldesigns said 10 years ago

    Yay! I was Cleopatra two years ago on my wedding night (Halloween '08) and Liz Taylor was my inspiration then! Luv her!

  • charcoaldesigns

    charcoaldesigns said 10 years ago

    oopps commented on the wrong thread. teehee. :]

  • regansbrain

    regansbrain said 10 years ago

    yea mpls! I love this city. What a great collection!

  • robertglieden

    robertglieden said 10 years ago

    Thank you for your kind words and the mention. Very glad to be a part of this. Upmost appreciation, Robert Glieden

  • DevineCollectible

    DevineCollectible said 10 years ago

    Real nice, totally enjoyable vision for my eyes! Wow peace

  • arsniccandy

    arsniccandy said 10 years ago

    Me want a cute terrarium!!:)

  • NaomiBroudo

    NaomiBroudo said 10 years ago

    I really like the idea of a gallery taking interest in etsy.

  • agatsijoias

    agatsijoias said 10 years ago

    Living jewelry, how remarkable is that!?!

  • KiwiStudioJewelry

    KiwiStudioJewelry said 10 years ago

    Makes me homesick - thank you for doing this!

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