The NEMAA blog is a platform for us to share our members work and their stories, and a hub for information about the NEMAA community.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Board President Brenda Kayzar bids NEMAA a fond farewell

Dear Members,
The weekend’s snow flurries and the coming colder temperatures make ‘home and hearth’ all the more inviting for many of us.  This ‘inward’ reflection brought to mind several realizations about the role art plays in the shaping of home and hearth, NE Minneapolis, and NEMAA.    

The warmth and beauty of my home is shaped by the presence of artwork.  I’ve had the privilege of purchasing from several local artists since moving to Minneapolis and each of these pieces signal a narrative of place, time and meaning.  I can share these narratives with my friends and family when they visit, and I can appreciate each work’s labor, inspiration and beauty as I go about my daily life.  I can also appreciate the artistic milieu that shapes NE Minneapolis with the presence of so many producers and production spaces.  I can and have erased the chill of winter with a visit to one of these spaces to meet, learn about and purchase artwork from a NEMAA artist.  Further, I know that winter’s darkness will soon be lit by Wintertide, and that this premier showcase event will excise January’s frosty bite with the splendor of NE’s incredible artist’s offerings.  I know also that spring will bring forth flowers and open studios for 30,000+ arts patrons and that I can partake in Art-A-Whirl’s 22nd year.  And I know that next fall I will visit the Fall Fine Arts gallery and throughout 2017 I will keep abreast of all that the arts in NE has to offer by referencing the directory and NEMAA’s social media sites.

NEMAA’s legacy, writ large in this artistic milieu and reputation of NE Minneapolis, is impressive - beyond compare with arts districts in other cities.  It is a testament to the labor and vision of its artist members and the work they produce.  This is the reason board members, staff, contractors, volunteers and supporters over the past two+ decades diligently and proudly carry forth the arts legacy. 

In 2017 they will continue to work hard to support and help direct the growth of the economy and allure in NE Minneapolis on behalf of the artist members and the arts economy.  My admiration of this unique NE arts conglomeration and my curiosity about how it came to be prompted my arrival on NEMAA’s board of directors seven years ago and has continued to fuel my advocacy for this organization and arts community.  With the coming winter chill, however, I will end my term as board president and retire from the board.  But I take my leave knowing that my intrepid board comrades and the organization’s talented new executive director and assistant director will continue do all they can (and more) to promote and sustain the amazing arts vitality found in NE. 

NEMAA will continue the work of marketing the artists, their artwork and the community, the work of producing events and promotional tools aimed at showcasing and selling artwork, the work of providing services in support of the artists as entrepreneurs, and the work of fostering and expanding relationships which recognize, promote and protect the legacy of the arts in NE Minneapolis.  For NEMAA is the atmospheric force shaping and supporting the artistic economy and milieu of NE – in all seasons!  I am proud to have served this organization and will remain, though emeritus, your arts advocate.



Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Introducing NEMAA’s new Executive Director!

Dameun Strange

Dameun Strange is an award-winning composer, and a Ron McKinley Philanthropy Fellow who was most recently a member of the Bush Foundation’s Community Innovation Team. Well known as an artist, activist and organizer, Dameun was born and raised in Washington, DC but moved to the Twin Cities to attend Macalester College where he majored in Music and English. Dameun has worked locally for such organizations as Macalester College, ACORN, MN UNITED for All Families, Grassroots Solutions, and Neighborhood Organizing and has served on the board of Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, Compas, Headwater Foundation for Justice, Alternative Motion Project to name a few.

Dameun is driven by two desires. As an artist, he is driven to create, to innovate, to build something meaningful and that gives people pause. He has a desire to reach deep within himself and pull out something raw and honest. As an organizer, Dameun is driven to bring people together, to find commonalities between communities, to build bridges—to find the soul of the community and illuminate it, building on assets for a strong future.

Dameun sees a world where the artist, the creative thinker is no longer viewed as an add-on; where perhaps the term “creative community” is no longer a necessary term of distinction. He sees a world where our creative institutions and people are valued as equal partners in designing strong, equitable communities and arts is seen a vital and necessary part of the development of our youth just as much as math, science and reading. He wants to play an influential role in moving our society closer to this reality. The Arts has a magical quality in that it is able to open up avenues of discussion, tearing down the walls of misunderstanding. It has to power to tell stories that sometimes go unheard. It has the power to heal, the power to move our communities towards wellness. The arts are a powerful tool in illuminating the threads of intersectionality and recognizing the struggles and triumphs of People of Color, enhancing and American culture that is fully inclusive of all of our stories.

Dameun currently lives in the Frogtown Neighborhood of Saint Paul with his wife Corina, their dog Persimmon, and cat Paru. 

Join us for the NEMAA Meet & Greet on Wednesday, November 9th at Public Functionary to welcome Dameun, renew NEMAA membership, and see the Wintertide space!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

2016 Fall Fine Arts Show Award Winners

NEMAA hosted a vibrant and bustling opening reception for the Fall Fine Arts show, which showcased artwork from over 150 of our talent members. With over 950 people attending, the reception on September 16 at the Solar Arts Building included delicious bites from Chowgirls Killer Catering, Craft Beer from Indeed Brewing and cocktails provided by Tattersall Distilling

During the reception, our judges, presented four awards for first through third place and honorable mention:

First Place: 
“A teapot for Prince Darwin” by Marko Fields

Second Place: 
“Liberty” by Russ White

Third Place: 
“Insight parable #9-Desire is the trap” by Christopher Palbicki 

Honorable Mention: 
“Subterranean Homesick Teal” by Stephen Filla-Kim 

People’s Choice: A 3-way tie!

We would like to extend our biggest THANK YOU to our amazing sponsors, silent auction donors, and to all of our supporters for coming out to the show. 

Monday, September 12, 2016

Introducing the Judges for the 2016 Fall Fine Arts Show

Now in its 17th year, the NEMAA Fall Fine Arts Show has become a much anticipated annual tradition our artist members and the entire community look forward to. A harmonious and coordinated answer to the frenzy of Art-A-Whirl, Fall Fine Arts is an impressive look at the art of over 150 of our artists, all in one curated gallery show held at Solar Arts by Chowgirls in the Solar Arts Building in the heart of the Northeast Minneapolis Arts District.
Each year, the board and executive director are responsible for choosing judges for the show. For Fall Fine Arts Show, the committee look for judges with a reputable arts background in many disciplines. Judges are responsible for selecting four winners, including Honorable Mention, based on overall composition, artistic quality, originality, and other factors.
Judges for the 2016 Fall Fine Arts Show are:

John Schuerman
Artist and Curator, former director of Instinct Gallery
John Schuerman is a self-taught artist and independent curator. From 2013 to 2016 he was the Gallery Director for Instinct Art Gallery. Instinct was a contemporary gallery with an emphasis on art that honors the natural world. His deep interest in nature and human nature are visible in both his art and his curatorial work which consists of group exhibitions focused on sociological themes. His aesthetic style and social consciousness formed as he grew up on a dairy farm in southern Wisconsin, coming of age during the cultural revolution of the late 60’s and early 70’s.
He has produced exhibits on topics such as Money, Gender Perspectives, Identity, Environmentalism, Our Medicated Lives, and Human Overpopulation.

Susannah Magers
Director and Curator of Contemporary Art at Rochester Art Center
Magers earned a BA in History and a BA in Photography from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and an MA in Curatorial Practice from the California College of the Arts, in San Francisco, CA. Magers relocated from Oakland, CA, and joined Rochester Art Center on June 2, 2015. She has a background in independent curatorial practice, writing, exhibition interpretation and management, and public engagement with the arts. Her most recent experience includes working as the Interpretation Manager for the site-specific exhibition @Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz, the unprecedented contemporary public art collaboration between the FOR-SITE Foundation, The Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, and the National Parks Service. Magers also co-directed the North Oakland, CA alternative arts and project space, Royal NoneSuch Gallery, which supports emerging and mid-career artists in the Bay Area with an emphasis on experiential and experimental programming. In 2012, she managed visitor engagement for the FOR-SITE Foundation’s International Orange, a site-specific group exhibition featuring artists such as Allison Smith, Stephanie Syjuco, Mark Dion, Doug Hall, and Courtney Lain at Fort Point National Park, in San Francisco, CA.

Sarah Balk McGrill
Owner, McGrill Art Associates - Art Consultation Services
McGrill is a photographer and owner, curator, consultant and designer at McGrill Art Associates, an art consultation group, where she produces creative environments for commercial and healthcare organizations through visual arts and exhibition programs. With over 25 years of experience working with the arts community, she brings the vision of clients to reality by collaborating with a network of hundreds of talented artists, craftspeople and creative contributors. Her clients include the University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview Hospitals and Clinic, Amplatz Children’s Hospital, BWBR Architects, The Science Museum of Minnesota, and Carlson Companies. McGrill was a visual arts educator at Meadowbrook Elementary School in Golden Valley in 2004-06, and has helped coordinate exhibitions at the Fine Arts Interdisciplinary Resource School (FAIR) in Crystal. Ms. McGrill holds a degree in art history and theatre arts from the University of Minnesota. McGrill Art Associates was founded in 2001 with the intent to promote local and regional artists to healthcare organizations, commercial facilities and the architectural & design industry.

More about Fall Fine Arts Show:

NEMAA will be hosting a Fall Fine Arts Show opening reception on Friday, September 16, 2016 from 6-10PM. Gallery hours are Thursdays and Fridays from 5-9PM and Saturdays and Sundays from 12-6PM through September 25, 2016. In addition to the artwork on display, guests are invited to enjoy a silent auction, live music, food by Chowgirls Killer Catering, craft beer from Indeed Brewing and special cocktails by Tattersall Distilling, open artist studios in the Solar Arts Building, and a chance to meet and mingle with Northeast artists and art enthusiasts alike. Overall winners selected by guest judges will be presented, and guests will be encouraged to vote for the “People’s Choice Award.” For more, visit

Monday, July 25, 2016

NEMAA is seeking an inspired and driven Executive Director!

Dear NEMAA Friends,
As many of you know, our talented executive director left for another opportunity.  We credit her with providing organizational leadership during the past six years of growth.  We are now engaged in finding a new executive director to pilot NEMAA’s success into the future.  We seek a leader who will oversee the production of NEMAA’s promotional events, entrepreneurial development programs, and operational activities, while strategically focusing on building community partnerships and fundraising to ensure the fiscal sustainability and growth of the organization.   We ask that you share this opportunity with your network!  A full job description is provided and interested applicants can send their resume and letter of interest to

Brenda Kayzar
Interim Executive Director

NEMAA Executive Director Opportunity

NEMAA is seeking an executive director who will oversee the production of its promotional events, entrepreneurial development programs, and operational activities, while strategically focusing on building community partnerships and fundraising to ensure the fiscal sustainability and growth of the organization. 

The Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association (NEMAA) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit arts organization serving over 900 primarily artist members, as well as the Northeast (NE) Minneapolis community, the city, and the metropolitan region.  NEMAA fosters and supports a community where visual artists can work and showcase their art through connectivity with local businesses, political representatives, and the wider community in order to build a more vibrant, economically healthy and sustainable artistic milieu. 

In service to its members, NEMAA produces three major showcasing events; Art-A-Whirl, Fall Fine Arts, and Wintertide.  The organization produces an Artist Directory and Guide and hosts several mediums in which to promote and inform its membership.  It also regularly conducts workshops, community planning efforts, and promotes tours and visits to the district.  In the main, NEMAA has created a series of traditions in the effort to draw attention to the work of its member artists, as well as the spaces of production that exist within NE Minneapolis.

USA Today ranked Northeast Minneapolis the #1 arts district in the country in 2015, a distinction built on the work of NEMAA and its artist and community members over the past two-plus decades. The Art-A-Whirl open studio event draws upwards of 30,000 people to NE during a weekend in May, and the Fall Fine Arts and Wintertide gallery events host 850 and 1,200 guests respectively, on opening night.  Arts activity is an acknowledged economic driver in NE, and the growth of the arts presence has raised interest in the neighborhoods of NE Minneapolis by businesses and residents.  Therefore, NEMAA seeks a strategic visionary to shepherd the artists, their spaces of production and exhibition, and NEMAA’s events within a changing landscape.

Summary of Work:
·         Work closely with the board of directors to envision and execute strategies in line with the organization’s mission and strategic plan
·         Provide vision, leadership and strategies in the development and execution of a fundraising plan
·         Provide vision, leadership and strategies in the fostering and development of new community partnerships and in the maintenance and growth of existing relationships
·         Provide leadership and management oversight to enhance the production of NEMAA’s arts focused promotional events
·         Provide direction to enhance and grow NEMAA’s entrepreneurial development workshops and toolkits
·         Streamline operations and drive technological efficiencies in NEMAA’s day-to-day operations, providing mentorship and support to NEMAA staff
·         Provide the board with a proposed annual budget and drive responsible fiscal management in partnership with the board to operate within the approved budget
·         Work to enhance the NEMAA brand and reputation, working with the marketing contractor to further align marketing and promotional opportunities, directory ad sales, and the membership drive with established revenue strategies
·         Work to ensure excellent member services in all aspects of NEMAA programs and operations

Minimum Qualifications:
·         Bachelor’s degree in business or nonprofit administration/management, urban studies/planning, arts and cultural leadership/administration, marketing, or related fields
·         Demonstrated ability to work with board/executive leadership
·         Demonstrated ability to innovatively form, foster and grow community partnerships/relationships
·         Demonstrated ability to energetically strategize revenue producing activity/fundraise
·         Demonstrated ability to write, garner and oversee management of grants
·         Demonstrated ability to lead and manage staff and contractors and provide guidance as a mentor
·         Demonstrated ability to fiscally manage revenues and oversee operations
·         Demonstrated ability to lead and manage innovative member service initiatives
·         Excellent written and verbal communication skills 
·         Broad knowledge of arts entrepreneurial needs and constraints
·         Broad knowledge of creative industries and creative place making narratives

Desirable Qualifications:
·         MA/MBA or advanced degree equivalent
·         Knowledge of the region’s arts based economy and networks
·         Experience in advocacy roles
·         Experience in collaborator roles or with community work
·         Experience with media
·         Experience with event planning 

To Apply:
Review of candidate materials will begin at the close of business on August 18, 2016.  All applications should include a letter of interest, resume, and three professional references.  Address all materials to NEMAA Hiring committee and send via email to  

Interested applicants are encouraged to explore NEMAA’s website at

Application materials must be complete and received by the application deadline in order to be considered. EEO

Friday, May 27, 2016

NEMAA Announcement

Dear Members and Supporters,
It is with both sadness and congratulatory joy that we announce the departure of NEMAA’s
Executive Director, Alejandra Pelinka. Ale’s leadership has guided this organization and its
events for the past six years and her creative and dedicated imprint graces every aspect of
NEMAA’s operations. She will leave us on June 1 to take on her new role as Director of
Creative Placemaking and Engagement for the City of Bloomington. What a lucky suburb!

Our current board President, Brenda Kayzar, will step in as interim Executive Director on a part time
basis to provide operational guidance and to help the board strategize a new hire. We
expect to announce our hiring plan in late June and would appreciate your help in disseminating
news of this opportunity when the time comes.

Of course, we know many of you have enjoyed working with Ale. Her helpful support and
enthusiasm for both the arts and artists will be missed. We’d like for you to save the evening of
June 14 as we plan a little ‘goodbye and good luck’ event for Ale. We’ll share more details soon.

We close by stating simply that it has been an honor and a privilege to have Ale’s leadership in
directing this organization through its considerable growth and professionalization, and we will
miss her.

The NEMAA Board of Directors