August 2017

Welcome to In the District: news from the Northeast Minneapolis Arts District. 

When the artists of downtown Minneapolis moved to NE over 20 years ago, they were trying to forge a new reality for themselves. They wanted to control their own destiny. They were forced out of the Warehouse District by the city, sports teams and developers. It was a repeat of an age-old issue of artists taking over vacated areas and reviving them, only to be financially exiled. When they moved to NE they felt they needed some type of event to develop sales and awareness of their work and community.  Art-A-Whirl® event presented by NEMAA, was created to fill that void. They needed to engage the community to host a successful event. Walt Dziedzic took the lead in finding seed money to get the first Art-A-Whirl off the ground. 
When Hillcrest Development made the choice to redevelop buildings that artists were utilizing in the Stinson and Hennepin area, the artists and community members fought back. City council member Paul Ostrow worked with artists and community members to engage and help develop a protected space for the art community, what now is the officially-designated Northeast Minneapolis Arts District. In both cases, the artists engaged the community to work toward mutual benefit.
Zoron rocks in a blanket

Artists of NE are now firmly established in the social and financial fabric of NE Minneapolis.  The issue now is how do we secure our long term future in NE? While serving on the Arts District Board of Directors, we have been trying to identify and help foster leaders in our own community. We have taken stock of the local landscape of community groups: very few artists serve on neighborhood association boards ( Bottineau, Sheridan, Audubon, Holland and Logan, for example). The same goes for the business groups like the Chamber of Commerce, NECDC, the Eastside Coop and many other organizations. Organizations like these have partnered with NE arts groups for two decades.  We have all thrived because of these valued relationships. 

It is essential that NE artists become directly involved in the planning and decision-making process that effects our community. Consider running for these boards and sitting on committees to give your perspective, ideas and leadership and to help our community understand our essential needs as artists and creatives.  Take a look around your neighborhood: the places you shop, work and play. Get involved!


Josh Blanc 

Group Critique: sharing helps artists grow 
by Susan Wagner

Several years ago, when still relatively new to the Northeast arts community, I was asked to join a small group of practicing artists for critique, knowledge sharing and I didn't know what else, but I was eager to be part of it. It was good timing. I was looking for a deeper connection to the arts community in Northeast to share my work and ideas and to get feedback in a supportive and encouraging environment. 

Suzanne Skon, Carmen Gutierrez-Bolger, Mary Simon Casati, Carolyn Halliday, and Susan Wagner in front of Halliday's installation for the "Dear Darwin" show at the Weisman Art Museum.

It has become one the most valued components of my art practice life. Our group of painters, collagists, and fiber artists includes myself, Mary Simon-Casati, Suzanne Skon, Carmen Gutierrez-Bolger, and Carolyn Halliday.

We meet every couple of months to serve each other as another set of eyes to help guide focus or constructively critique our very individual paths. Our way of creative exchange has taken time to develop. In our group, it's important that we can talk about all aspects of the creative life. For the most part, we make our art in solitude so having a trusted group of colleagues to touch base with has been a lifeline. 

Coming together to discuss work and challenges is invigorating and inspiring, helping to keep momentum high and, as Carolyn states, it all "boils down to the almighty sense of inspiration and enthusiasm to go make more work." As Mary says, we're "able to share with knowledgeable and trusted colleagues who experience similar things. We can talk through strategies to solve artistic problems."

That we make very different art has been a benefit to each of us in how we critique and look at our groups' art, and other artists. A painter looking at fiber art is going to have a different take on things and as Suzanne says, "I like scheduling field trips to galleries and museums with our group because it is just a joy to discuss art when we each bring our own subjectivity to the experience." 
The Pool by Susan Wagner

Suzanne Skon Mill City Ruins
Suzanne Skon Mill City Ruins

Simon-Casati Bottom
Simon-Casati Bottom

Carolyn Halliday Log Vessel
Carolyn Halliday Log Vessel

Carmen Gutierrez-Bolger -  Pap_
Carmen Gutierrez-BolgerPapa

It matters to us that we are part of a larger community of artists, whether in NE or St. Paul.  Most of us have our studios in NE, (Casket Arts, Solar Arts) with Carolyn having moved to a studio in the Triangle Building on University Ave in St. Paul. There's a shared-activity energy in the air that hums around us and helps feed the energy to make the work. Carmen says, "I like to think that working in NE Minneapolis, this very vibrant, multi-generational, multi-discipline community makes my art more "important" somehow...I very much believe that we all feed on the energy that we put out."

As a group we try to keep refining how best to use our time and give the most effective criticism and support. It's an ongoing process of development, as is our work.

-Susan Wagner makes oil and mixed media paintings based on the architecture of the landscape and other natural forms.

Photos courtesy of the artists.

N ortheast P.E.E.P.s
(People, Events, Exhibits, Places)

Meet artists Brenda Litman and Farida Hughes in the gallery on Saturday, August 12, 1-3 pm during the August 12 Second Saturday Open Studio  event in the California Building.

Farida Hughes
Brenda Litman

Three Main Goals 
of  Arts District Planning

1. Continue to discuss who we are as a community. 
2. Continue to define the v ision of the next 10 to 15 years, in order to drive the decision making.
3. Start a framework on how we can finance the goals of the district. This goal is only possible to discuss if the other two goals can be met.
Recent studies to consider reading: 
5.   Take the survey for the  CREATIVE MINNESOTA
Issue: 64
In This Issue
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The Northeast Minneapolis Arts District & the Arts District Committee is an outcome
of the Arts Action Plan.

"The Northeast Minneapolis Arts District Committee is comprised of interested volunteer community members, and is fiscally managed by the Northeast Community Development Corporation (NECDC). Additional support has been provided by Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association (NEMAA), Clay Squared to Infinity."
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