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.

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.]

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Arts in Ward Three: Council Member Jacob Frey

Third Ward City Council Member Jacob Frey is passionate about supporting and sustaining the Northeast Minneapolis arts community. Growing up in a family of artists, Frey brings a unique perspective to the City Council and understands the value and impact of the arts.

“The benefit of the creative class is tremendous in every way,” says Frey. “Artists boost the economy and provide a cool factor that is intangible and otherwise wouldn’t be there.”
As council member, Frey’s mission is two-fold: help and get out of the way. According to Frey, help often comes in the form of money, yet that is one of the hardest things for artists to come by. The state of Minnesota does provide some funding for the arts, but they are specific in what they will support. This narrows the framework on which artists are able to gain the financial resources they need, and the end result is “watered down,” franchise style art.
“We don’t want the status quo,” says Frey. “We want art that is challenging, groundbreaking, and will make you uncomfortable at times. We won’t get that if we’re sticking artists in a neat little box.”
Frey believes that help can also come from loosening regulations that make selling art more difficult and less profitable such as permits, sales taxes, etc. Further, he feels that subsidized housing and other supportive services will ensure that artists are able to continue living and working in Northeast.
Ultimately, Frey feels we need to sit back and simply let artists practice their trade. While he has ideas for establishing regular roundtable meetings to promote artists and bring people into Northeast, Frey wants to leave the artistic aspect to the artists.
“The creative process flourishes when you back off and let it happen,” says Frey. “When artists are allowed to paint outside the guidelines, they will do much better.”