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.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Wintertide Bienneial: An Interview with Tricia Khutoretsky of Public Functionary

It's just over a month until the Wintertide Biennial Juried Art Exhibition opens, this January 24th at Public Functionary. We've received lots of great submissions from NEMAA artists and are excited to have our jury start the competition.

The show dates are: January 24 through February 7, 2015.

Mark your calendar today!

What is Public Functionary?

Public Functionary is a two year old art gallery right on the edge of the Northeast Minneapolis arts district. They've been making waves for some time, trying to push the local art scene in some intriguing new directions. (For example, check out the recent story on the gallery in the Star Tribune.) NEMAA is thrilled to be partnering with them for the Wintertide Biennial.

If you haven't visited the gallery space and are not familiar with Public Functionary, here are excerpts from our chat with Tricia Khutoretsky, the co-director and curator.

NEMAA: Tell me about Public Functionary. You call yourselves a "contemporary art exhibition and social space." What is that all about?

[The Public Functionary team.]

Tricia Khutoretsky: Well the main thing is just that we’re looking at encouraging art buying in the Twin Cities. There's been a lot of controversy over the past few years about how much artists rely on grant funding, and how people feel about government and grant funding for the arts.
Well, one way to supplement that is to have a better art market. Everything that we do at PF is an effort to make people comfortable with art, and to try to encourage new people to get into art buying.
NEMAA: How does the Wintertide Bienneial fit into that mission?
TK: Well the Cedarwoods Foundation generously donated sponsorship money to put toward prizes, which means the jury exhibit will be highly competitive. That  hopefully encouraged artists to put their best work forward. Basically it all comes back to the fact that we're trying to support the idea to try to help people find purchasable art in the area
NEMAA: That's interesting. For someone like me, new to the Twin Cities art market, what do you mean by "purchasable art?"
[The opening of a Buy Now Cry Later Takeover show. Img Public Functionary.]

TK: Some people don’t buy art because they're not comfortable with the purchase. My theory at least, is they feel like if they buy a piece of art…and can’t explain why they bought it, it’s questionable. You have questions like, "Where’d you get it?" or "Why would you do that?" Some people have difficulty talking about it because they might feel intimidated about their purchase being validated.

That might be one theory. Sure a lot of the problem is that people can’t afford art, and there might be a million reasons. But one barrier I’m working on is to eliminate that feeling of intimidation.

Why is it so easy to buy something that is mass produced? For example, pieces from Ikea that are just printed; there's something about buying at Ikea that is not intimidating. So we have these really great jurors that are known for understanding the art market. For example, Peter Remes puts collections in all the buildings that he's developed…and Leslie Hammons from the Weinsetin Gallery of Fine Art Photography. And we have professors that are respected in the academic art world who understand a lot about art history.

Knowing that these art works have been vetted and suggested by these really great minds in the art world, it’s kind of a little bit of a suggestion by people that know what they’re talking about.

NEMAA: So it'll be a different experience coming in than many of the other shows in Northeast.

TK: Right.  There’s no juried show in Northeast Minneapolis. The Wintertide Biennial will filter…and find a way to showcase the best of the best. Not every single artist in NE is applying, but there were a lot submissions and they were good so far!

NEMAA: Best of luck with the show and all your other work at the gallery.

TK: Thanks.

[The gallery space awaits.]

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Digging, LLC

The Digging, LLC is one of the newest additions to the Northeast neighborhood and is the latest venture of entrepreneurial powerhouse Kieran Folliard. The Digging is a unique business that provides commercial workspace to local businesses, as well as management, legal counsel, human resources, finance and marketing services.

Never known to rest, Folliard founded The Digging shortly after selling 2Gingers Whiskey to Beam, Inc. in 2012. After purchasing a 31,000 square-foot warehouse space at 1401 Marshall St. NE, Folliard and his team forged ahead, building a unique space where consumers can make a connection with the individuals who prepare local craft food by visiting the space.

As with all start-ups, they faced several challenges. Having a shortage of necessary resources and knowledge on staff is rather common, but Folliard’s team feels that the lack of expertise and infrastructure they faced has been both a blessing and a curse.

“We are flexible, nimble, and we can adjust quickly,” says the company’s President Carrie Nicklow.
Progress has been constant and the staff is excited to be moving forward. Construction of the Lone Grazer Creamery is underway, Chowgirls Killer Catering will move in as soon as this winter.  Red Table Meat products, produced at the Marshall St. facility, are already on the shelves in stores around the city of Minneapolis including Lund’s and Surdyk’s.

“We are very thankful for the support of the Minneapolis community,” says Director of Marketing Liz Hancock. “It is a great place to be a small business.”

For more information about The Digging, visit:

For a short video clip around the building, visit:

Monday, December 15, 2014

Recovery Bike Shop

According to owner and founder Brent Fuqua, Recovery Bike Shop started somewhat by accident. While operating a successful photography business, performing as a musician and working several other side jobs, Fuqua found himself struggling with addiction. After moving into a treatment facility, he spent a great deal of time focusing on his recovery while fixing up old bikes in the garage. This hobby soon turned into a business when referrals continued to pour in, and on January 1, 2011 Recovery Bike Shop moved into its first storefront on Central Ave. in the Eastside Food Cooperative rental space.

“It was pretty clear the universe was at work, it was a perfect fit,” says Fuqua.

Fuqua eventually partnered with friend Seth Stattmiller, owner of Re-Cyle which is the main supplier of parts for Recovery. In the summer of 2013, the business continued to expand. When the Northeast Investment Cooperative (NEIC) purchased a 15,000 square-foot space at 2504 Central Ave. NE, Recovery moved in.

“I believe the biggest factor to our growth comes from the fact that Northeasters tend to stick together,” says Fuqua. “They are hardworking, honest, and fair people, and since we’ve opened that has been our goal – to be honest, fair and hardworking.”

The annual impact of Recovery Bike Shop goes beyond just the Northeast neighborhood and is felt on a global scale. Every year, the company processes nearly 5,000 used bicycles, puts 1,000 new cyclists on Minneapolis roads, ships 1,000 bicycles to Africa, and reduces carbon dioxide pollution by one million pounds.

As with any other small business, Recovery Bike Shop faces its share of future challenges and opportunities. “We’ve grown very fast, but we call that a good problem,” says Fuqua. “In some ways, the opportunities are the same as they always have been, to restore and recycle thousands of bikes each year and be a top notch shop for the Northeast area.”

Recovery hosts four open shops every month, two of which are called “Grease Rag” and are exclusively for women, transgender and femme identified individuals. The staff also hosts an open shop every other week with techs on hand to help the public work on their bikes and teach basic skills.

“We attend some 50 events a year all over the city where we fix bikes for free, and we also donate a lot of items to charity events,” says Fuqua. “We feel strongly that this is a lot more fulfilling and productive than conventional marketing.”

As the company grows, Fuqua and Stattmiller remain committed to the company’s original mission, continue to reach out to new market areas to the north, and constantly look for additional ways to get the word out about their business.

“The main thing that we always like to say in our staff meetings is just to ‘keep getting gooder.’”

For more information on Recovery Bike Shop, visit:

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Brickmania Toyworks

Brickmania Toyworks, founded in 1999 by independent designer Daniel Siskind, creates and markets custom Lego sets and parts. After 15 years in the business and exponential sales growth, Siskind has established a company that is well-known for its high-quality Lego building kits with subjects ranging from renaissance castles to military models of World War I and World War II.

What began as a hobby to “kill time” has now exploded into a global business. Siskind’s first kit, a medieval blacksmith shop, was met with instant success on the market and was the catalyst for the creation of an entire collection of medieval village building kits. Having attracted an impressive internet and social media following, Brickmania is now an international leader in custom design kits.

Since 2010, Brickmania has been located in the Thorp Building, a repurposed World War II armaments factory at 1620 Central Ave. NE. “You really can’t get anything like this anywhere else,” says Siskind of Brickmania’s unique industrial complex.

This multi-purpose space serves as a retail store where customers can purchase a complete line of Brickmania custom kits and figures, BrickArms accessories and a large selection of new and vintage Lego sets. A portion of the space is dedicated to hosting open houses (shown above), birthday parties, and community events such as First Thursdays and Art-A-Whirl.  Also within Brickmania is the “Train Room,” home to massive operating LEGO train displays created by the Greater Midwest Lego Train Club and the Twin Cities Lego Train Club.

As Brickmania continues to grow, the company is still a small scale operation and is often presented with more opportunities than it is financially able to complete. “We don’t try to plan too far ahead,” says Siskind. “We just want to focus on the things we do well, and do them better.”

For more information on Brickmania Toyworks, visit:

For a short video clip around the space, visit:

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Central Ave. Liquor

Central Ave. Liquor is a local, family-owned business committed to “Living Northeast, Loving Northeast, and Buying Northeast.”

Owners Scott and Cindy McCleary acquired the company in October 2008. Scott worked as a part-time employee at the store for more than 12 years prior to purchasing it, so he was familiar with the neighborhood, the customers, and recognized the potential that the store offered. The business has since increased its sales and underwent a large expansion in 2011, adding a new local brew pub room and 15 door micro beer cooler.

Central Ave. Liquor is located at 2538 Central Ave. NE in a node of successful Northeast businesses such as Eastside Food Cooperative, Sen Yai Sen Lek and Tom’s Style & Tanning.

“At a primary Central Ave. address, the location and the energy offered by our local main street partners is an enormous benefit to our business,” says Cindy regarding the community support of the store’s business growth and proactive outreach. “We have a history of cross marketing and co-organizing events, which brings people to the many diverse retailers on the avenue.”

Scott and Cindy’s vision for Central Ave. is increased energy, economic vitality and retail density to provide an eclectic, rich experience for Northeast. They create opportunities for people to experience the store and get acquainted with the community by hosting wine and beer tastings 2-3 times a week. They also actively donate to community events and local organizations and partner with the Northeast Minneapolis Lions Club each year to host a beer garden fundraiser in the store’s parking lot.

“These activities not only introduce others to our business, but we hope they also draw a broader crowd to Central Ave.”

For more information on Central Ave. Liquor, visit:

Friday, December 12, 2014

Siwek Lumber & Millwork

Siwek Lumber & Millwork has roots that stem all the way back to 1933. In the depths of the Great Depression, the young Siwek family struggled to keep their burgeoning business alive as unemployment soared and jobs became increasingly scarce. Fast forward more than 80 years, and Siwek Lumber is now run by the founders’ grandson, Tom Siwek, and has expanded its millwork and hardware offerings to serve not only Northeast Minneapolis, but the entire state of Minnesota as well.

Tom is the company’s Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and General Manager and has worked for Siwek Lumber since 1985. The company is now known for their expert remodeling, pole buildings, millwork, hardwood, crating and packaging of lumber, and their unique selection of closeout and surplus items.

Siwek Lumber is headquarted at 2536 Marshall St. NE with a second location at 350 Valley View Dr. in Jordan, MN. “Our location is the heart of our customer base,” says Tom. “It is representative of our business model – creative, vibrant, unique, hardworking, progressive, modern and yet historic.”

Siwek Lumber actively participates in community service through the East Minneapolis Exchange Club, and Tom is a longtime Northeast resident and activist. When he’s not at the lumberyard, Tom can be found at some of his favorite Northeast establishments including Jax Café, The Mill Northeast, Stanley’s Northeast Bar Room, Elsie’s Restaurant, Bar and Bowling Center, and The Anchor Fish and Chips.

For more information on Siwek Lumber & Millwork, visit:

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Carmen Gutierrez-Bolger

Carmen Gutierrez-Bolger is one of those uniquely talented individuals who can tell a story through her art. Born in Havana, Gutierrez-Bolger’s recent work draws inspiration from her Cuban heritage and features unconventional objects serving as symbols of her roots.

 “I fashion narratives that I call memory mash-ups,” says Gutierrez-Bolger in her artist statement. “I use found objects and materials and think of them as artifacts or placeholders for memory.”

 Gutierrez-Bolger grew up drawing and painting and has vast experience in the graphic arts, specifically printing and typography. She currently describes herself as a mixed media artist known for creating pieces that blend her personality with Cuban iconography.

 Gutierrez-Bolger’s first studio was located in what is now the North Loop of downtown Minneapolis in the late ‘90’s. She then found a studio in The Keg House and formed The Keg House Collective before ultimately moving to her current space in the Casket Arts Building at 681 17th Ave. NE. Her studio space, which she describes as a “fabulous Northeast artist sanctuary,” is shared with fellow artists Marjorie Fedyszyn and Suzanne Skon.

 In addition to her aspirations as an artist, Gutierrez-Bolger has taken on a number of initiatives within the Northeast neighborhood. She is involved with Women’s Arts Resources of Minnesota and has served on several arts, business and community boards including her current role as president of the Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association (NEMAA).

During her tenure as president, Gutierrez-Bolger’s goals for NEMAA are to provide more of the resources and opportunities needed by member artists, extend awareness of the local arts scene to a larger audience, and continue to work with City Council Members Kevin Reich and Jacob Frey on critical matters impacting Northeast.

 “We want to protect this area as a community of artists and continue to maintain its art-centric focus.”

 For more information about Carmen Gutierrez-Bolger, visit:

For a short video clip around her studio, visit:

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Meet the Wintertide Jury

Opening on January 24th, 2015, NEMAA is excited to be hosting the Wintertide Biennial Juried Art Exhibition at Public Functionary, a contemporary art gallery in Northeast Minneapolis.

Juried biennial exhibitions are an important instigator in the discovery of exceptional work of emerging, mid-career and established artists based on a competitive jury process. In addition to selecting the artists in the Biennial, the jurors will award a total of $10,500 in cash prizes that will be presented at the opening reception.

Show dates are: January 24 through February 7, 2015.

We are very excited about our jury for the upcoming show.

Download full guidelines and submission information here. Click here to apply.

The Deadline to apply is coming up soon: December 10th, at 5:00 PM (Central Time).

Here are brief interviews with three (of the four) jury members!

Leslie Hammons, Weinstein Gallery

Reuben Nusz. Severed Hue (Black), 2013
Acrylic on canvas
22 x 18 inches
Leslie Hammons is Director of Minneapolis' Weinstein Gallery. Established in 1996, the Weinstein Gallery has exhibited work by outstanding nationally and internationally recognized artists working in all media, with a special focus on modern and contemporary photography. The gallery is a member of the Art Dealers Association of America and the Association of International Photography Art Dealers.

NEMAA: Have you ever juried in the past? If so, what was the experience
like? If not, what are you looking forward to?

LH:  For the past few years, I have been a juror for Camera Lucida's annual Critical Mass, an international competition to determine the best emerging photographers working today.  It is always apparent and exciting when an artist employs thoughtfulness and tight editing

NEMAA: What type of artists and artwork do you find exciting?

LH: That is a difficult question! I have been excited about Ruben Nusz, a painter represented by the gallery.  His hard edge abstraction paintings and his process, which involves detailed and extensive preparatory work, is quite impressive.   Lately, I've been interested in the history of photographers who use alternative photograpahic processes, whether it's Man Ray or Matthew Brandt. 

NEMAA: Do you collect art? If so, what are two examples of pieces that you
particularly love?

LH: I'm drawn to work that inspires me and I appreciate a cabinet of curiosities aesthetic.  For instance,  I currently have a 1983 Robert Mapplethorpe photograph hanging across from a beautiful map of Alaska from the turn of the century.  Also, I have been on the look out for a great 1910s/20s vintage Bertillon mugshot. 

Jean Bevier, Dominican University

Jean Bevier is an Associate Professor of Graphic Design at Dominican University in River Forest, IL. She holds an MA in Visual Communication Design from Kent State University and an MFA in Book and Paper Arts from Columbia College Chicago. Jean's work has been exhibited nationally and her latest show, Letters From the Road: Typography in the American Landscape opens January 18 at Benedictine University in Lisle, IL.

NEMAA: Have you ever juried in the past? If so, what was the experience
like? If not, what are you looking forward to?

JB: Yes, I have juried shows in the past. I've twice served as a juror for the University & College Designers Association (UCDA) National Design Competition. I've also juried the Loyola University Student Fine Art Exhibition in Chicago. I've enjoyed these experiences because they afforded me the opportunity to see a wide range of works in multiple mediums. Minneapolis has a great arts community so I'm very much looking forward to seeing the submissions for the show.

What type of artists and artwork do you find exciting?

JB: I'm excited by artists whose work shows a clear passion for the process of art making, and a deep understanding of the materials they work with.

NEMAA: Do you collect art? If so, what are two examples of pieces that you
particularly love?

JB: I'm a strong believer in the value of living with art! I have a pretty eclectic collection so it's difficult for me to pick just two. Among my favorites is a color intaglio I've had for years by printmaker Larry Welo, paintings by Deborah Chlebek and Ernie Koerlin and a black and white photograph by Julius Friedman. All of these works add immeasurably to my experience of home. I hope people who attend the Wintertide exhibition will discover work they can't live without!

Christina Schmid, University of Minnesota

Christina Schmid is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Art, focusing on literary criticism, arts writing, and visual culture.

NEMAA: Have you ever juried in the past? If so, what was the experience
like? If not, what are you looking forward to?

CS: Yes, I have juried before in the past. Most recently, for Sound Unseen, the annual music film festival in St. Paul. I also have served on the MAEP panel for the past year, where seven people get together once every three months to discuss proposals for the galleries at the MIA. Though not technically a jury, it is a process of articulating preferences, arguing strengths, and building agreement among panelists. I've found the process fascinating--and learned a lot about how other artists look at work and what they want from artwork. My favorite moments have been those when we start questioning why something appeals to us, when we get suspicious of what motivates our aesthetic preferences.

NEMAA: What type of artists and artwork do you find exciting?

CS: I like art and artists whose work makes me think and experience something. I know that's vague--but I like a lot of very different art and very different types of makers. I am drawn to work rich in ideas that the artist explores in a personal but relevant way. Sometimes I reach strange little conclusions like "I don't like X"--only to be proven wrong by another artist who also does "X" but in a way I find irresistible. When engaging with art, I tend to ask, why this? Why now? What does the work ask me to care about--and do I care? Does the work intrigue me, make my mind, as Terry Tempest Williams writes so memorably, "go wild in the presence of creation?"

I like artwork that leads me somewhere, that changes my day, alters my mood, stays with me, and opens my mind to something I had not considered before. I like art that gives me fleeting sensations I cannot necessarily put into words. And yet, that's exactly what I do when I write with and about art. At other times, I want to look at work that makes me laugh, because it's smart and witty and true and so right for the moment.

I'm afraid, I can't really narrow it down. I like work that is not afraid to have a heart but asks more of me than to take an interest in someone else's personal life; art that does more than cater to my intellect and says something that is meaningful outside of the context of an artworld-specific conversation. I'm afraid that's as close as I can get in answering your question. I value encounters with art that are unpredictable--so I cannot really predict with any semblance of reliability what will or will not excite me.

NEMAA: Do you collect art? If so, what are two examples of pieces that you
particularly love?

CS: Yes, I am in the habit of living with art. Most of it is work by former students, work I could not part with when the students graduated. Some of the art I live with came to me in the form of gifts, which I treasure. And some of the paintings and prints I look at daily have been bought at silent auctions, Art-A-Whirl's, and studio sales. And it's hard to choose which two to talk about.

I've been drinking tea out of a beautiful, orange-hued cup one of my former students wood-fired and gave to me last year. It fits my hand perfectly. I enjoy how light it is, how snug, how warm. Terry talked a lot about choreographing interactions through his ceramics ... and even though I drink my tea while sitting at my computer working away, not the most social of situations, it brightens my day. I know that sounds cheesy but, honestly, that's how I feel about it. I could go all theoretical and talk about how it also straddles the complicated divide between art and craft--but I won't. My appreciation is not motivated by intellectual engagement alone.

The second piece I'll talk about is a print, also by a former student--but older. Maybe 2010? I'm not sure. Brandon was interested in exploring the strange social space--a virtual social space--that smart phones and such devices open up. Then he got inspired by an essay Vito Acconci wrote in the early 2000's, a text that speculates about "landscape" and "landescape:" what eludes us when we step back and look at the places we inhabit in a panoramic, distant way? The land escapes us. The print combines a quotation from the essay with the strange orange blob shape that Brandon devised to represent this new kind of space we are creating through technology. I think about the quotation a lot. The layered streaks of color, flattened by the press, speak to the opposite of "landescape." They are marks made by touch, pressure, intimate contact of materials in an uneasy dialog. And I like all of that. I bought the piece after he graduated from the College of Visual Arts. I don't know if he still makes art, but I hope he does.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Indeed Brewing Company

In the words of Co-founder Nathan Berndt, “The idea of what is now known to be Indeed Brewing Company officially commenced with a text message one cold and snowy November night in 2010.” The company now employs approximately 35 employees with projected sales of 10,000 barrels by the end of this year.

Indeed is located at 711 15th Ave NE in the Logan Park Neighborhood of Northeast Minneapolis. This area of Northeast has been deemed the “brewing district” and is just a couple blocks from the original James Page and Grain Belt Brewing Companies. Berndt says that having a number of breweries in the neighborhood has given Indeed the opportunity to better promote the movement of local, fresh craft beer.

The main point of business for the brewery has been, and will continue to be, distribution. But with the passing of Minnesota’s Surly Bill, Indeed saw an opportunity to engage with the company’s end consumer and became the first production brewery to open a taproom in Northeast. “Beer is best fresh, and the freshest place to get that beer is at the brewery,” says Berndt.

The brewery sees a lot of local foot and bike traffic and is somewhat of a destination for the rest of the Twin Cities. One way Indeed brings people into the taproom is by hosting free tours of the brewery each week. In addition, the brewery hosts various events throughout the year such as “Give Back Wednesdays,” an initiative to support local non-profits. The brewery donates net revenue from these events to chosen non-profits focused on the environment, social justice, education, the arts, and other community issues.

The brewery hosts an event during Art-A-Whirl in which their LSD Honey Ale is considered a piece of “art.” This event draws 7,000 people to its parking lot for music, food and beer. Indeed also celebrates harvest season in the month of October with many new and limited edition beers at its annual “Hullaballo” event.

“While only two-years-old, the future is very much wide-open for Indeed,” says Berndt. “We are very committed to providing the best and freshest beer possible.”

For more information on Indeed Brewing Company, visit:

For a short video clip of the brewery, visit:

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Nicholas Legeros Sculpture Studio

Nick Legeros is a standout artist in Northeast Minneapolis, well-known for both his art and his community activism. As a sculptor of bronze, Legeros has created a number of public and corporate commission pieces that can be found all across the Midwest including “Father Murphy” at University of St. Thomas in St. Paul and “Quiet Competence” at M.A. Mortenson & Company in Minneapolis.

Legeros grew up in the Twin Cities and has been interested in art since his fourth grade art class. Shortly after entering Gustavus Adolphus College for his undergraduate degree, Legeros realized sculpture was the career avenue he wanted to pursue and ultimately went on to get his MFA degree in studio arts from the University of Minnesota. He also worked as an artist-in-residence at the Minnetonka Center for the Arts for more than 20 years before opening his own studio at 84 14th Ave. NE in 2003.

“At the time, I didn’t realize how important location was,” says Legeros, “but there was a lot of development happening in Northeast and now this area is so full of energy.”

Legeros outfitted his studio with a foundry, and he designs, creates molds, and pours bronze for all his pieces within the space. When showing off some of his recent pieces, he says he’s intrigued by the notion of distorting perspectives and has even experimented with blending bronze and glass casting.

"Happy accidents happen all the time in art,” Legeros says.

Over the years, he has built his business and grown his clientele by networking with members of the community at various events hosted by the Northeast Chamber of Commerce and other local organizations. He also engages with community members by teaching private classes upon request and hosting tours of his studio space by appointment.

One of the primary challenges Legeros faces is that he can't work fast enough - typically a good problem for an artist to have. On top of working to meet high demand for his pieces, Legeros is actively involved in organizations such as the Northeast Minneapolis Community Development Corporation (NECDC) and previously served as president of the Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association (NEMAA). He was also on the planning committee for the Northeast Minneapolis Arts Action Plan for a number of years.

For more information on Nick Legeros,

For a short video clip of his studio,

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Art Materials: A Great Addition to Northeast

Northeast Minneapolis is home to more than 400 galleries, studios and artist-filled buildings, so it comes as no surprise that the owners of Art Materials chose to open the store’s third location within the Northeast neighborhood.  The company sells a wide array of art supplies including everything from paints and pens to frames and easels.  

Owner Larry Brown has been in the business for more than 20 years.  Realizing his preference for the retail aspect of the business over wholesale, Brown opened Art Materials stores in Uptown Minneapolis at 2728 Lyndale Ave. S and in Fargo, ND at 300 Broadway.

After talking with customers, Brown quickly realized that a large portion of the company’s customer base either worked or resided in Northeast and had to travel across the city to get their art supplies. So Brown began looking for a location with better access to Northeast customers and ultimately landed his third shop at 1509 Marshall St. NE in February 2013.

One of Art Materials’ key differentiators is its online store, which currently offers more than 69,000 products. With the upward trend in online shopping, people are enjoying the freedom to browse at their own convenience and be more selective about pricing and availability options. According to Brown, 40 percent of Fargo customer packages are going overseas, and the company has shipped products to countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Spain, Russia and Australia.

While the company’s e-commerce site has expanded Art Materials’ reach and opened doors to a much greater audience, there is still much to be said about the local Northeast shopper.

“We do much more than sell art products,” says Brown. “There’s a great community of budding artists here, and we are constantly rolling out new changes to meet their needs.”

For more information on Art Materials, visit:

For a short video clip of the store, visit:

Friday, October 31, 2014

The Fine Art of Pumpkin Display

If pumpkin carving is art. then Northeast Minneapolis is full of artists. My favorite thing about this time of year is when the sidewalks come to life with people and decorative gourds.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Last Weekend for Fall Fine Arts & an Interview with Selma Fernandez Richter

[Selma Fernandez Richter, Untitled.]
This is the last weekend to see the NEMAA Fall Fine Arts Show on the 3rd Floor of the Solar Arts Building. Head over and see over 170 home-grown Northeast art works on display.

After the opening, we handed out prizes some amazing art works on display in the show. The top prize went to Selma Fernandez Richter, a photographer who was born in Oaxaca, Mexico and is now based in Minneapolis.

I took the liberty of asking Selma a few questions about her amazing piece, her career in photography, and what she's working on these days.

Here's what she had to say...

NEMAA: How did you get interested in photography?  What is your background?

Selma Fernandez Richter (SFR): I´ve been a photographer for 13 years professionally and I got my first camera as a child.  In college, I studied Communications and after that I traveled to different places like Barcelona, Dublin, and Buenos Aires where I studied with a variety of photographers and learned different approaches.

When I started working as a photographer in Monterrey, Mexico´s most industrial city, the majority of my work was photographing people in the business community for editorial and corporate clients. It was a wonderful opportunity to learn how to be a photographer.  During that time, I took different classes and workshops. Mexico is a place where many great photographers come to teach, and I was fortunate to study with photographers like Mary Ellen Mark and David Alan Harvey.

When I moved away from Mexico three years ago, I knew that I needed a change, I wanted to focus more on my personal work.

[Selma Fernandez Richter, Untitled.]

NEMAA: What kind of subjects do you most like photographing?

SFR: I am definitely a people photographer and I have a particular interest in photographing children. 

[Selma Fernandez Richter, Untitled (on display at the FFA show).]
NEMAA: Tell me about the photo in this show. What are we looking at? How did you get this angle?

SFR: It was taken during the Maha Kumbh Mela celebration in Allahabad, India last year. My husband, photographer Andy Richter, was on assignment and working on his ongoing project about yoga.

I love traveling and travel a lot for work but I didn’t have an specific agenda at that time.  I was fascinated to learn that the city is built every 12 years just for the Kumbh. It is the most populated city in the world for that period of time and interestingly is the city with the best health and sanitation services in India. This is all set in the basin of the Ganges river. I decided I wanted to do something related to the city itself.

As a portrait photographer I immediately felt attracted to its inhabitants, that´s why most of the images of this project are about them.  But I also included scenes of the actual city to give some context, most of them from up above.  The picture in the show is of one of the many camps that constitute the city, and was taken from a bridge.

NEMAA: What are you working on these days?

[Selma Fernandez Richter, Untitled.]
SFR: For the last three years I´ve been working on a project, about the refugee communities in the Twin Cities. I mostly photograph people from Burma, of the Karen ethnic group, as well as Bhutan, Somalia, and Eritrea.

My intention is to document their first months and years in Minnesota and their adaptation process to their new context, as well as the configuration of their new communities.  This work has a lot to do with my own adaptation process.  My goal is to produce a book of the photographs.

That's it! Come down and see Selma's work as well and the other rich variety of visual arts on display.  While you're there you can stop by Indeed Brewing on the 1st floor of the Solar Arts Building and check out Johnny Cash's personal bar or any of the other inevitable Northeast surprises.

See you there!

[Selma Fernandez Richter, Untitled.]

Friday, September 26, 2014

Award Winners from the 2014 Fall Fine Arts Show

The Fall Fine Arts show opened last week with a glorious party full of music, food, drink, and amazing art from NEMAA members. Thanks very much to all our volunteers who helped make the show a success, and to the generous donors who helped with the silent auction (pictured at right).

We awarded three prizes as judged by our guest panel, as well as an honorable mention award. These are just four of the over 140 artworks on display at the show.

1st- Selma Fernandez Richter
    "Untitled #1" - photograph

2nd- Presley Martin
    "Generations" - graphite and kaolin on wood

3rd- Bill Lindau
    "Tzeitel in the Woods" - Mixed media

Honorable Mention- Nancy Grist
    "Molly" - reclaimed pine, East wall

There is also a “people’s choice award” that you can vote for during the run of the entire show.

There are two weekends left to check out the pieces in the Fall Fine Arts show, up on the Third Floor of the Solar Arts Building (right above the Indeed Brewery).

This weekend looks beautiful, and there’s no better time to see some amazing Northeast art.

Gallery Hours | Thursdays/Fridays 5-9 pm (September 25, 26, October 2, 3) 
Saturdays/Sundays 12-5 pm (September 20, 21, 27, 28, October 4, 5)

Friday, September 19, 2014

Four Things about the Solar Arts Building: Home of the 2014 Fall Fine Arts Show

The opening night of the Fall Fine Arts Show is here, and for the third year in a row the show is going to be up in the Solar Arts Building (right off 15th and Monroe).
One of the reasons that NEMAA is delighted to partner with the Solar Arts Building again is that the Solar Arts Building has such a unique history. I talked with Mike Schardin, who has been working on remodeling and managing the Solar Arts Building for the last three and a half years.
Here are four things I learned about the history of this place:

1. There are solar panels on the roof (duh)

This might seem obvious, but the Solar Arts building gets its name from the solar panels installed on the roof. When they bought and rehabbed the century-old building back in 2010, the owners wanted to be as "eco-friendly" as possible.

"We cleaned up the ground," Schardin told me. "We sandblasted the entire bldg, had all the old lead paint removed, and then we topped the building with over 100 solar panels. We put in an all-new heating and cooling system that’s 90% efficient. Then we did all new fixtures for lights, and all LED lighting."

 2. The building is exactly 100 years old

[The old boiler door from the building's original life as a factory.]
The three-story building celebrated its centennial this year. When it was built at the height of Minneapolis' industrial era, it was the home of the Twin City Cord & Tire Company. It was abandoned for many years before the current owners purchased the building in 2010.

"After the Cord and Tire Company, it switched hands a few times," Schardin told me. "The last was Nicollet Electric. They had it for a while, but then the building was abandoned. It was sitting there and bringing crime and vagrants into that community. So when we bought the building, the community was excited. We fixed it up it brought some new vibrancy into the community."

According to this great article over at Minnesota Originals, the Solar Arts Building  operated for a while as Sears' warehouse (just like the Midtown Global Market on Lake Street, only much smaller). 

3. Each floor has a function

As anyone who's seen it well knows, the first floor is devoted to the rapidly-growing Indeed Brewing Company (honestly my favorite Minneapolis craft brewer). Just like a century ago, the first floor is devoted to manufacturing. Incidentally, Indeed Brewing makes most of their revenue from canning and distribution, not their taproom.

The 2nd floor has 36 artist studios. You can check out some of the Solar Arts' artists on their Facebook page, and I'm sure some of them will be at the Fall Fine Arts opening. (There is also a monthly "First Thursday" open studio night at Solar Arts Building that you can check out.)

As Mike tells it, the 3rd Floor (where the Fall Fine Arts Show is held) is a work-in-progress. "Over the last 2 years, we’ve been working on turning it into an event space," Mike told me. "NEMAA takes it over in September and puts on the beautiful Fall Fine Arts Show. It’ll be there for the next 6 years. We have also been working with the city on issues like parking and numbers and safety, and we finally got the space approved for events like for galleries,  corporate sessions, and weddings. Though we have not yet signed an agreement, we’re working with Chowgirls Catering to help with all the events and manage the space. We’re really excited about having a well known Northeast company as part of our community there."
[Train tracks outside the Solar Arts Building.]

4. Inside you'll find Johnny Cash's personal bar

To remodel the 3rd floor, the building owners installed a few historically significant pieces of furniture. Mike was really excited to tell me the story about two of them that they installed to accentuate the historic brick interior.

"We found a cool 108-year old table," Mike explained this week. "It's the original boardroom table from the Duluth Railroad Company, which makes sense because we sit right on a rail line. It's all metal and weighs 4,000 pounds. It was made by the Metal Arts Company, in the early 1900's. That's a company that grew quickly at that time because they received the government contract to build metal furniture in all the libraries across America."

As a country music fan, I found the second of Mike's "character pieces" even more intriguing. 

"We also have Johnny Cash’s bar from his house," Mike told me. "It was handcrafted in 1860 in France by an French artist. It sat in a castle for 100 years. Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash were once on a trip in France, and talked the guy at the castle into selling it to them. They had it shipped to Hendersonville, Tennessee, and it served as a bar in his house for 16 years. Then they donated it to the House of Cash Museum, but in 2009 the museum closed. They  put it to auction and we bought it, and it sits in the 3rd floor of the Solar Arts Building. From what I've heard, Cash and Waylon Jennings would sit up all night writing songs by that bar. It's pretty cool. The carving on it is priceless itself, very ornate and mind blowing."

Those are just a few things to think about when you check out the Fall Fine Arts Show. The opening is tonight from 6 - 9, and the show will be up for three weeks (through October 5th), Thursday through Sunday.

[Mike is the guy in the sun costume.]

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The 15th Annual Fall Fine Arts Show Coming to the Solar Arts Building September 19th

[Last year's Fall Fine Arts opening.]
Like it or not, the State Fair is over, kids are back to school, and a chill is lurking in the air around the corner.

Here at NEMAA, that means The  15th Annual Fall Fine Arts Show is on the way. We're  thick in the middle of preparing for the Fall Fine Arts Show, the other big event on our yearly calendar (after Art-A-Whirl).

The show will be opening on September 19th, and will run for three weeks (Thursday - Sunday) in the third floor of the Solar Arts Building (on 15th Avenue NE and Monroe Street above Indeed Brewing).

We’re expecting over 140 artists to participate, which promises to be a great way to get a taste of the variety of art being made every day in Northeast Minneapolis.

What is Fall Fine Arts?

For me, the most exciting thing about The Fall Fine Arts show is that it’s a completely “open” show where any NEMAA member can submit their work on a first-come, first-served basis. (We cap the show when we reach our capacity). This means that the Fall Fine Arts is be a great way to discover new Northeast artists, and that the show will have a whole spectrum of art available, for serious collectors all the way to younger people who might be interested making an art purchase for the first time.

At the same time, the Fall Fine Arts show gives out awards and prizes for stand-out work. This year, NEMAA is putting together a jury to give out awards that will include Christina Chang (curator at the Minnesota Museum of American Art) and others. Given the rich pool of NEMAA member/artists to choose from, there promises to be a stiff competition for the best of show.

There’s Still Lots of Work to Do

We need your help to make this happen. There is going to be a two-week installation process (already underway). We’re going to have a silent auction, and we’re still reaching out for sponsors to help us with our award prizes.

(For example, 1st Prize is a $350 gift card to Your Arts Desire Framing & Gallery. There are similar prizes from Wet Paint, and others.)

For the opening, we’re getting the band back together to provide music and we’ll have Create Catering providing tasty food. (We’re even adding a second bar to keep away year’s long lines.)

For all this, we need your help. Please contact the Fall Fine Arts Coordinator Briana at, or you can call Anna in our office at 612-788-1679 to sign up.

Believe it or not, it's fun to volunteer to help with the show, and get a behind the scenes look at one of a great Autumn event calendar. We need lots some elbow grease. Please volunteer if you can!

[We need you!... to help with things like this.]