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.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Interview with Julie Burkhart

A Conversation With Julie Burkhart

Photos by Ian Kacungira

How did you get started doing jewelry?

My first piece of jewelry was for an art class, and I loved it. My instructor saw that I really enjoyed it, so she sent me to another woman who was a jeweler, and she helped me make a piece. I was just fascinated by it. Anytime I could get around any kind of jewelry making equipment I would play around with it and try to learn. I finally went to jewelry school in Paris, TX and learned the basics. I was there for two years, and then worked for a diamond importer in Dallas. I loved doing custom work, so I also started working at a custom design store.

What kind of custom work did you do?

A lot of bridal work, some upkeep or redo of work to make new jewelry out of old stones and metals. I did a lot of work with unusual stones, cuts, and colors. A lot of times, I would get an unusual shape and design around the shape of that stone.

What do you do now?

I do a combination of the custom work for other jewelry and companies, I do stone setting, diamond setting, and my art jewelry, which is what I call the modern micro mosaic.

I like it all. Being self-employed I can do all of those things. I can say yes or no, and make my own choices. I like having the variety of doing all of those things.

"Educating the people is something I cherish, because a lot of people don’t know what it is. I love opening minds to new possibilities."

You put a lot of emphasis on your modern micro mosaics, why?

It’s unusual, you won’t see another like that. You don’t see a lot of micro mosaics. I like explaining the process and how each technique is done. Educating the people is something I cherish, because a lot of people don’t know what it is. I love opening minds to new possibilities.

My first mosaics were inspired by the Gee's Bend quilt makers. These are women who had no money, and they made quilts out of the clothing they had. They didn’t have the money to buy fabric so they just used beat up old jeans and whatever else they could find.

How’d you hear about these women?

You know sometimes you run across something and it just speaks to you. Their quilts really speak to me. I love that they’re all wonky. I really love intuitive art. These women are so intuitive, I mean, look at the colors and how they piece it together. Everything’s a little wonky, it’s not perfect. No straight lines.

I love the fact that they’re not trained to be a certain way, they created from their heart. They really inspired me.

Bringing it back to the hand carving, this is something that computers can’t replicate. Computers can’t bend lines like the human mind does.

Exactly, that’s beautiful.

What’s your involvement with NEMAA and how has this experience been for you?

When I came to this area, I was looking for studio space and I feel like I just stumbled into it and I feel like I hit the lottery. I love this building, it’s a perfect fit for me. I joined NEMAA right away and then I realized that this is a big deal. I didn’t know about Art A Whirl or what NEMAA had to offer, but I learned about how much they have helped this area. This is a thriving, wonderful, strong arts community here. 

I dove right in, and when I really believe in a cause I like to dive right in and give service. After some time, I was encouraged to join the board and it’s been wonderful because NEMAA has done so much and it’s an honor to be a part of it.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

NEMAA & Mall of America

NEMAA & Mall of America

Recently, Mall of America reached out to NEMAA for suggestions and to connect with our artist members for a few opportunities related to their Art + Style Series. Thank you to Mall of America for incorporating local artists into the look book and events!

Mall of America Look Book



Mall of America's Fall 2015 Lookbook, featuring apparel and accessories found within Mall of America's stores, will be seen by 85,000+ people. They selected Casket Arts Building and artist tenants for their shoot location. Congratulations to the Casket Arts Building and featured NEMAA Artists:

See the full lookbook here.
Image credits: Mall of America.

Upcoming Art + Style Events 

Don't miss these exciting Art + Style series events at Mall of America, featuring NEMAA Artists.

Crowd-Inspired Art Featuring Three Local Artists

3 - 7 P.M.

Come watch, and help inspire, three local artists, Alison Price,Madison Elyse Rubenstein and Michael Bellotti as they create live art in the Rotunda that is inspired by the images YOU share on Twitter or Instagram tagging @mallofamerica and #ARTandSTYLEMN. Share your inspiration and watch it appear on the big screen at Mall of America as three unique paintings come to life! If you share an inspirational image, you will be entered to win one of the paintings created at the Art + Style Series.

Upside Down Art with Robin Ann Meyer

3 – 7 P.M.

Robin Ann Meyer’s art is amazing (so amazing that her art is featured on the cover of the Fall Look Book), but her process is truly unreal—dedicated yogi at heart, Robin paints upside down as a reminder to be open to different perspectives. To fully grasp the concept of what Robin Ann Meyer does, do yourself a favor and watch this. Or better yet, come to MOA on October 2 and watch the art unfold right before your eyes!

Check out additional Art + Style series events "celebrating the fusion of art and fashion" here.  All events will take place September 30 - October 9, 2015.

Additional Press Mentions:
Mall of America Announces Fall Art + Style Series, Minnesota Monthly

Monday, September 21, 2015

NEMAA presents at Percent for Arts Ordinance Committee Meeting

Photo Credit: Becky Franklin. 
September, 2015

Recently, Becky Franklin, Chair of the Minneapolis Arts Commission reached out to NEMAA to request that we testify the importance of an ordinance that dedicates funding for public arts, prepared by the Minneapolis Arts Commission, and Council Members Elizabeth Glidden and Kevin Reich.

Brenda Kayzar, NEMAA board president and a professor in geography at UMN agreed to speak, and presented at the Zoning and Planning Committee meeting on September 17 at City Hall. Brenda was a great fit as a spokesperson on this topic, as her research focuses on revitalization and she is very familiar with percent-for-arts programs and the role the arts are asked to play in the new creative economy.

We are pleased to hear that the ordinance was approved by the Council Zoning and Planning Committee, and will move forward to a vote by the full Council this Friday, September 25.

Thank you to the City Council Members Elizabeth Glidden and Kevin Reich, Minneapolis Arts Commission, Becky Franklin, Mary Altman, and those who testified: Wing Young Huie, Bob Kost of Forecast Public Art, Brenda Kayzar of Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association (NEMAA), and Leslie Palmer Ross of Art Force.


Read NEMAA President Brenda Kayzar's full speech below:

Comments for Zoning and Planning Committee Meeting, September 17, 2015
RE:  Councilpersons Reich and Glidden’s proposed Percent for Arts Ordinance

Hello Councilpersons,
I’m Brenda Kayzar.  I’m a professor in the Department of Geography, Environment and Society at University of Minnesota.  Today, however, I am here as a representative of the arts in NE Minneapolis.  I’m president of the board of the NE Minneapolis Arts Association. NEMAA produces Art-A-Whirl, Fall Fine Arts (which opens tomorrow evening) and Wintertide.  The organization represents over 800 members; businesses, galleries, community friends…and most importantly, over 650 artists.

On any given day you can visit NE and observe the positive economic impact of these arts entrepreneurs who are running their small businesses in the spaces abandoned by large scale manufacturing.  They are producing their products in re-purposed studios, paying rent, buying supplies, coffee…lunch, dinner.  And attracting others to NE to view and buy their products, and imbibe in what NE businesses have to offer.

I’m not sure I need to argue so forcefully for the positive economic impact of the arts…I think there have been enough studies to support this argument…and history.  However, public art (which also has a long history) is an outward expression of this economic driver; this artistic milieu… and I am here today to support the effort to ensure the city’s consistent fiscal support of this aspect of the arts.
In support of fiscal sustainability, I note two things: 1) much of the way we’ve understood cities through history is through their public art and 2) I suggest that fostering the creative place making benefits of public art necessitates more than just adopting the conceptual terminology.

I highlight my first point by referencing the recently completed mural by a Brazilian graffiti artist that depicts the homegrown singer songwriter, Bob Dylan.  There is so much to be told in the making of this mural-beyond the social media explosion….the cache of an international artist, the representation of the local turned international  talent of Dylan…and the city’s claim to his legacy, maybe the gesture of remorse by Goldman Sachs…maybe!  Suffice it to say, the buzz generated by this arts project goes so far beyond paint.  But this is a privately funded project on private property.  It is not the city’s to tout and it is not in perpetuity.  It is in the public preview, but it is not public art.  And it highlights the need for the city to be engaged in generating its own written legacy through artist endeavor.

My second point is brief…and that is to say that the city has done so much to raise awareness of its wealth of arts activity …as well as foster its growth.  This afternoon I will attend the Creative City Roadmap function at Public Functionary.  This support, however, is best demonstrated through concrete fiscal action.  Attracting creatives, the creative economy, and creative place making …while being conceptually sound guideposts for the future growth of this city nonetheless become rhetoric if only spoken about and not acted upon.

So, on behalf of the artists and artistic community in NE, I request that you approve this sound and sustainable proposal for a guaranteed funding stream percent for arts program. Thank you.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Board President Brenda Kayzar June Letter

Hello NEMAA Members and Supporters,

The days leading up to the summer solstice were indeed long.  From the vantage point of the NEMAA office in the California building the sun stretched slow in the sky as Ale, Anna, consultants, volunteers, the board members, and you...NEMAA’s members, all reflected on this year’s Art-A-Whirl. In the main, it was an extremely successful year.  By most accounts the crowds, sales and general vibe within the community was welcomed and applauded. 

There were some concerns and they deserve and will receive redress.  Yet I hope to persuade you that issues are an inescapable reality associated with the successful production of a now nationally recognized open studio event.  I also hope to assure you through our work this year, that a focus on ‘planning together for 2016’ will produce better outcomes than a focus on ‘solving issues’.  That’s because planning together is not oppositional.  Planning together suggests ways for the entire community of NE to benefit from the collective presence of studio building owners, artists, arts suppliers, arts buyers and advocates, retailers, restaurateurs, brewers, entertainment venue owners, musicians, actors, employees, business owners, and all community members (i. e everyone). 

I’d like to share with you what we NEMAA peeps have been thinking on and talking about since the third weekend in May.  But before I do, I’d like to share some of my own personal reflections about NE and NEMAA with you. In my other non-NEMAA board member (not as exciting) life, I am immersed in the conversation around revitalization.  A lot has been written about how cities can maintain and grow economic and social vibrancy, and the role the arts can play in this effort. For several decades now it has been proffered that urban, rural, and even suburban economic development must engage the arts community, at least at some level.  I’ve read a sizable portion of the books, articles, and planning documents that call for investment in and the expansion of creatives and creative economies.  I’ve poured over countless case studies that discuss best practices in fostering gallery, theater, studio and live-work spaces and any and all arts activity.  In summary I can say two things; first, this is not work for the faint of heart or sleep deprived (!) and second, NE as a community signals a sustained and unique arts presences; an exemplar of arts district success. 

Now too, I’ve read the plethora of literature suggesting that success, at least for arts districts, is but a snapshot in time.  In reflecting on the potential for gentrification, I ask that NEMAA members consider the two descriptors I chose for the NE community-sustained and unique.  These descriptors are attentive to our reality at this particular ‘time’.  Regarding the vast literature about arts driven economic development there are a lot of ‘templates’ that should work, and don’t, and/or partially don’t.  Yet there is a much smaller number of examples of organic and unique processes, places and people who are able to coalesce and evolve as something that does work.  NE is this, today. 

NE reflects an economic environment where arts activity has fostered desire for and investment in the buildings and community of NE.  Simply stated…NE is experiencing new investment from developers and business owners in tandem with growth in its creative economy and arts presence.  Witness the 20th annual Art-A-Whirl open studio event; ramping up as opposed to slowing down. 
And yes, it does look different; replete with hiccups such as road closures that unwittingly blocked our arts patron trolley, and interlopers who capitalize on the Art-A-Whirl name without being supporting members, advertisers or sponsors.  Yet I was told by a restaurant owner that Art-A-Whirl was the reason they chose to open in NE (and they served many hungry arts patrons, extending their stay in the neighborhood).  I was also told by a young artist that NEMAA drew her to a NE studio and once here, the housing stock drew her and her husband to a home in NE.  Reflecting a 20 year evolution we cannot overlook the positive.  For it is our charge to tout, brag, regale in, celebrate, and promote the role the arts have played in shaping the NE of today. 

I persuade…let’s examine the patina-ed and newly shiny artistic milieu that has evolved.  Let’s grow to embrace how this arts reality is intrinsically woven into the economic and social fabric of the community. Let’s engage and highlight 20 years of hard work and success so that everyone can understand the importance of the arts in this community.  I know that the members of NEMAA, and Art-A-Whirl fans near and far, would like to see the particular time sensitive reality of arts district success remain in perpetuity...with only room for improvement.  That is what I’d like to see.  Moreover, NEMAA’s mission is to support a sustainable space for arts production and consumption.  So, with the ‘arts’ on the tip of every business owner and political representative’s tongue…let’s lend the artistic experience of NE (and the 20-year cache of NEMAA’s Art-A-Whirl marketing that draws well over 30,000 people to NE during the three day event) as a face to their goal of arts driven economic development planning.  As the exemplar of how this can and should be done, I propose we plan in partnership with the community for Art-A-Whirl 2016 so that we can remain the exemplar of success.

At NEMAA the work of planning has already begun (the day after Art-A-Whirl, really!) and we are embracing three goals; 1) NEMAA will foster relationships with community members through meetings with varied stakeholders throughout the next year of Art-A-Whirl planning, 2) NEMAA will empower our artist citizens through a series of focused workshops aimed at helping members shape, market and close the sale during the Art-A-Whirl open studio event and beyond, and 3) NEMAA will develop a media ambassadorship aimed at fostering a better understanding and knowledge of what Art-A-Whirl is and what our partners in the community contribute to the open studio event. 

While these appear to be broad concepts, with maybe just a bit of planning and empowering jargon mixed in, the aim is clear; let’s keep the focus of the Art-A-Whirl open studio event on the arts, artists and OPEN STUDIOS and, let’s continue to grow and enhance the threads of art woven into the fabric of NE. We want to welcome our new neighbors (such as those that provide the food and drink that Art-A-Whirl visitors enjoy so much) and continue to thank and embrace our long time neighbors who look forward to the boon of activity, crowds and profit that supports their businesses during Art-A-Whirl weekend. AND we want to ask our neighbors to plan and communicate with us so that every path to an artist’s studio is open and welcoming and no Art-A-Whirl patron’s desire to attend this NEMAA open studio event is diminished.  AND…we want to ask our neighbors to support us fiscally so this non-profit can achieve another successful Art-A-Whirl event in 2016, as we celebrate our 21st year!    
So, even though the sun’s rays will linger less in the coming months, NEMAA will continue its long days, drawing on every tool and resource we have at our disposal to envision, create and conduct a successful community plan for Art-A-Whirl 2016.


Brenda Kayzar

NEMAA President

Monday, May 11, 2015

Board President Brenda Kayzar's May Letter to NEMAA Members

Dear Members,

As this newsletter arrives, I know where your focus is; Art-A-Whirl weekend!  The buzz of

activity and excitement in NE can be heard miles away.  Tracy Singleton, the owner of

Birchwood Café in Longfellow was thrilled to showcase this year’s NEMAA Artist Directory

and can’t wait to see her artist friends this weekend in their studios. Similar sentiments have

been shared in encounters throughout the Cities.  Even more fun was overhearing the

conversation of a young couple in line in front of me at Lund’s downtown.  They were debating

where to start their arts exploration on Saturday, which would include a lunch stop along 13th and

a sampling at a brewery.  So, here’s to arts exploration and the opportunity to extend the day and

number of buildings traversed with a little sustenance stop here and there at a local NE business

offering food and libations!

By now you’ve seen the elegant Artist Directory celebrating 20 years of Art-A-Whirl.  A

heartfelt and huge round of applause goes out to Todd Thyberg of Angel Bomb for offering us

the wonderful red ‘wax seal’ design.  The use of wax seals on important correspondence and

documents can be traced to Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley, and was later used as a way to

authenticate the granting of certain privileges.  It is a fitting design for the cover of a directory

that grants potential arts buyers the privilege of guiding them to the artists and studios in NE!

We hope the beautiful directory will also encourage buyers to increase the number of red dots

produced in every studio this weekend as well!

And we are all about red seals and red dots at NEMAA this year.  We delivered 63 huge 3-foot

red dots to buildings throughout NE to help draw attention to the places where art is being

produced and sold.  In addition the NEMAA member stickers for your door, which feature the

wonderful red seal, we’ve distributed red dot ‘I Bought Art’ stickers for buyers to wear proudly.

And the wearer will get a discount at a number of local NE businesses.

We persuaded Metro Transit to again offer free bus passes to NE so they can dispense potential

buyers at your door (without the hassle of looking for a parking space).  Be sure to let your

clients know they can get the free bus pass on NEMAA’s website.  And they can use the trolley.

We’ve arranged for Stillwater Trolley to move potential buyers easily from building to building.

Remind them the buses and the trolleys are great ways to transport artwork to their homes!

We’ve also wrangled use of some parking lots from businesses and these will be marked by

NEMAA event parking signs (tell your clients to look at the map in the directory or visit the

NEMAA website).  But leave those parking spaces in front of your buildings free.  Artists can

also use the bus pass and trolley.  We know some of your clients will want to drive, so make it as

easy as possible for those potential buyers to spend time with you!

Finally, congratulations to our artist members who submitted proposals to do something special

for the 20th.  They’ve received stipends to help them produce something memorable to

participate in, watch, or take away during Art-A-Whirl this year.  I could go on about the Social

Media Toolkit, Information Booths, and cadre of talented workers and volunteers… But instead,

I will close by saying that I wish you all an amazing Art-A-Whirl weekend on this extra special

occasion that marks 20 years of arts practice and community.  Enjoy the milieu that is you!!


Brenda Kayzar

Art-A-Whirl & Artist Directory Team

It takes a village – of mostly volunteers including board members, a small diligent staff, a few professional contract workers, and some awesome interns – to coordinate and support Art-A-Whirl and our annual Artist Directory & Guide! This year, I am so fortunate to work with the wonderful individuals listed below on the Art-A-Whirl and Directory team, along with a few featured volunteers who go above and beyond. I would also like to extend a special thank you to our very dedicated NEMAA Board members.  In addition, we rely on over 150 volunteers every year to help with our Art-A-Whirl Silent Auction, information booths, and more, and we can’t thank you enough for the time, energy, and enthusiasm you contribute to Art-A-Whirl.
Thank you all so very much! Here’s to a successful Art-A-Whirl!
Alejandra Pelinka, NEMAA Executive Director
Photo of Alejandra Pelinka

Anna Becker
NEMAA Office Assistant/Development Associate
Anna has a background in ceramics, and lately has been working on tile projects for her own home. Her favorite aspect of Art-A-Whirl is walking into a studio or gallery and discovering an artist whose work speaks to her. Perhaps she can afford to purchase a piece then and there, or maybe she will save up her money so that someday she can call a great work of art her own. In either case, she follows artists' careers with interest, tells her friends and family about them, and revisits their studio again and again.

Kate O’Reilly
NEMAA Marketing Coordinator
Kate lives, eats, breathes and loves Northeast Minneapolis. A writer and marketing pro, she helps with promotions and communications at NEMAA. She resides with her partner and children in the Audubon Park neighborhood and is excited to ride the trolley to see as many demonstrations as possible during Art-A-Whirl weekend.

Marilyn Miller
Artist Directory & Guide – Advertising Coordinator
It is great to blend my passion of advertising, publishing, sales & the arts when working on the NEMAA Artist Directory. I appreciate being part of this project with NEMAA and working with the vibrant NE community. The wonderful thing about Art-A-Whirl is the unique opportunity to meet the artists, see their studios and find that treasured artwork to take home.

Joan Nygren
Artist Directory & Guide – Graphic Designer
When I was growing up in Minneapolis during the fifties and sixties, there were just a few art galleries and artists. Most knew each other. In general, we were considered misfits and disrespected. Today’s strong art-community, hundreds of artists and art studios, with the incredible diversity of work, is way beyond what I could have ever dreamed — a rare gift for all of us. I’m grateful to be here, now.

Heidi FitzGerald
Artist Directory & Guide - Editor
Heidi FitzGerald is a freelance editor (, optioned screenwriter and playwright.  Her creative works have been presented across the nation and she continues to develop new works for stage and screen.  She loves Art-A-Whirl because of the opportunities it gives both patron and artist to appreciate and support one another face-to-face.

Ben Walytka
Artist Directory & Guide - Proofer
Graphic Designer at Bolger. BFA Graphic Design University of MN Duluth. This is my second year working with NEMAA pre-flighting the ads for the directory. I enjoy working with the NEMAA staff and meeting all the great artists at the proofing session. Looking forward to 2016....

Kathy DeKrey

Art-A-Whirl Volunteer Coordinator
Kathy, a resident of Minneapolis for the last 8 years, is an active lover of the Minneapolis Arts community. She enjoys helping get folks from all backgrounds interested and involved in creative expressions. She is really excited to join the Art-A-Whirl team to continue her passion of getting more people involved in the arts, as well as helping to grow the reach of one of her favorite art events.

Madison Elyse Rubenstein
Art-A-Whirl Silent Auction Installation Coordinator
I’m a painter and printmaker currently living in South Minneapolis. I truly enjoy working with NEMAA- they are an awesome organization filled with some of the hardest working people I know. I’m excited for Art-A-Whirl because of the opportunity to connect and share experiences with tons of amazing artists and supporters. I will be a guest artist in Hilary Greenstein’s studio at the California building, 206a during Art-A-Whirl. 

Kaylee Weycker
Art-A-Whirl Silent Auction Coordinator Intern
My name is Kaylee and I'm a junior at the University of St. Thomas. I'm the captain of the women's rugby team and the Vice President of Professional Activities for my professional business fraternity, Delta Sigma Pi. I have a rescue dog named Dorothy and love to travel.
I'm very excited for everyone to see the incredible talent in the pieces that some NEMAA artists have contributed to the silent auction this year! This is my first time working with Art-A-Whirl and it has been an amazing experience. 

Michael “Bear” Meyer
Volunteer –  Art-A-Whirl Trolley Guide
Retired from 42 year career in the music industry. Two adult children and two grandchildren. Hobbies include travel, wood working, landscaping and volunteer activities. This will be my third year as a volunteer Art-A-Whirl conductor on Trolly #1. 

As a conductor my job is to get our guests, along our route, on and off the trolley safely and to their destination. I also provide tips on what locations they might want to check out especially to those who are first timers, and, where the food and bathrooms are located. I enjoy this position as you get to meet our guests face to face and have a lot of fun with them. 

I have fun dressing the part including renting a wonderful Passenger Agent cap from The Guthrie Costume rental shop which they now refer to as the Art-A-Whirl cap. 

My “all aboard” is getting pretty good and I try to get our young passengers to help me shout it out. The atmosphere of Art-A-Whirl is festive and fun. And, you also get to meet many of our great volunteers and staff. A great way to spend a weekend while supporting the arts. 

Emma Welter
Volunteer – On-Call Art-A-Whirl Volunteer
I live in Minneapolis and work for Old Tom Foolery, a local greeting card company; I'm also a freelance proofreader with various creative projects on the side. Although I'm a Minnesota native, my introduction to Art-A-Whirl came only after I returned from five years living and studying in England, and it was one of many events that reaffirmed for me how uniquely innovative and welcoming Minneapolis is. The contagious enthusiasm among artists and attendees alike is my favorite aspect of Art-A-Whirl – it's like the State Fair without all the grease and with less risk of a nasty sunburn. I can't wait to be a part of it this year by helping out as the On-Call Volunteer.

Marnie Erpestad
Volunteer – Artist Directory Distribution
I am a photographer from Minneapolis. I take black and white photographs of everyday objects as a means of investigating human relationships. I love the way Art-A-Whirl unites people and strengthens the community through shared enthusiasm for the arts.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

NE Resident's Guide to Art-A-Whirl - Family Friendly Edition

by guest contributor Jamie Schumacher

I wrote a little guide for some of my friends tackling Art-A-Whirl for the first time. I sent it to on to NEMAA for their amusement (tour guide in training!) and we thought it would be fun to post this to the blog as well in case it’s helpful for anybody else!

A little background; Art-A-Whirl was my first real entrance to the Northeast Arts Scene, via Altered Esthetics gallery. Art-A-Whirl is organized by NEMAA, a local nonprofit organization serving Northeast Artists. Full disclaimer: I've been volunteering on and off with NEMAA for about 10 years and I heart them. They are an amazing organization and have grown this event tremendously in the past few years. Their current director Ale is just fantastic and she's been helping grow the capacity of the organization as well as the quality of their programs and events. Between her and an amazing board, it's a great time to do Art-A-Whirl, as it's run like a well-oiled machine at this point. :) 

I used to have to work every Art-A-Whirl at the gallery and/or as a volunteer with NEMAA. I got a little burned out at one point, so for a year or two we had plans out of the district (it gets pretty crowded in our hood.) But for the past few years I’ve renewed my love for the event - it's been so awesome to just be able to go around Art-A-Whirl and enjoy it as a participant and not as a worker bee. It reminds me of how much I love this community and where we live. :)

Sooo - Art-A-Whirl is an open studio tour of over 50 locations, hundreds of studios. (Throughout the locations, there are over 600 artists participating.) That's what makes it unique - unlike outdoor art fairs you're going from studio to studio instead of booth to booth, and building hopping throughout a pretty big district. So it can easily be overwhelming for a first timer just by the scale of it. In addition to whatever your personal preferences are, here are some of the spots I think would be the most fun and exciting to do with kids. Art-A-Whirl is a huge draw, bringing upwards of 30-40K people into the district, some estimates are higher. And now many local restaurants and taprooms also offer large scale music performances during the weekend, so there is something for everyone.

How to Arrive
- While there are options for free buses into Northeast, (Thanks Met Transit!) the inevitability is that most folks will be driving in. But you’ll be happier if you plan on ditching your car at some point and getting where you need to go by bike, foot, or trolley.

Things to Bring
- stroller (one of the lightweight ones, this is easier to fold up for the trolley and creates less of a jam)
- snacks (though there are restaurants and food trucks everywhere, snacks are good to have for the kiddos. Nothing sticky.)
- water bottle (easy enough to fill up at any of the major stops, buildings, or TAP water locations)
- cash / card (Most take Square but some vendors don't. There are also a few ATM’s in studio buildings)

You'll be happier the lighter you pack. An ideal situation is if you can leave items at a base location and then trek around Northeast.

Where Things Are
Here's a map that shows various artist locations, studio buildings, and the trolley route. The trolley stops right at, or within a short walk, of most major buildings. Most artist locations are within the Northeast Minneapolis Arts District, but there are locations throughout all of Northeast as well.

Okay – the studio buildings. There's a good list of the major studio buildings here:

You will pass most of them on the trolley so you can always do a long loop and then embark where you want to go. 

A Few Must-Sees, in my Opinion
Thorpe Building - this building has a super interesting layout and is fun to wander around. Here you’ll be able to see the BRICKMANIA (lego) shop - they do a ton of fun stuff for kids. Random Trivia: Their owner Dan Siskind was the founder of Profane Existence record labels and is awesome.

Q'arma Building - this is where AlteredEsthetics home base used to be, my personal entry to Northeast. There will be pottery demonstrations, live music, and a variety of fun stuff to do. This is where Frostbeard Candles is located (Frostbeard has wonderful nerdy book-themed candles for book lovers. Like, butterbeer scented candles, etc. Go during Art-A-Whirl and come back during Christmas to get uniquely awesome gifts for the book lovers in your family.)

13th Avenue – loads of shops, gifts, things to do. A good place for food times. Anchor Fish and Chips has a giant festival behind their space with live music and other sorts of fun. 

Going to those three alone could take up a whole Saturday. Another good rule of thumb is to pick up an Artist Directory beforehand and plan out any places you want to go. There is an Art-A-Whirl map in there and some zoom-ins, as well as great studio building descriptions (including history of the buildings!)

There are breweries and beer stops throughout Northeast, and there will be food trucks everywhere - in addition to a ton of restaurants in the district, food and drink should never be a worry. 

Here is a list of family friendly studios (in the Art-A-Whirl FAQ section of NEMAA's website), and family friendly events


The sheer amount of artwork throughout Northeast can be overwhelming, but less so if you tackle Art-A-Whirl the right way.  It’s is a great way to experience so much of what the neighborhood has to offer! Stop by on any or all days of the weekend, and hang on to the Artist Directory and come back again throughout the year. Even after more than a decade of living and working Northeast, I’m still discovering new things all the time and finding new artwork to love. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A Morning with the Habsburgs at Minneapolis Institute of Art

What I pictured in my brain before visiting the Habsburgs special exhibit at Minneapolis Institute of Art was very similar to what I saw when I arrived. Ethereal women and well dressed men (and vice-versa) with abundance and grandeur strewn throughout. Lots of clouds and carvings, fabrics and fabrications, sparkles and succulence.

Giovanni Bologna, Deianira Abducted by the Centaur Nessus, 16th century
What did surprise me was a delight: elements represented in one room magically materialized as actual objects in the next. One room, a painting depicting their grand carriage. The next room, POOF: the ACTUAL carriage. Same went for clothes worn to coronations. In one room, a painting of Emperor Otto, and the next room the clothes he wore inside an air-tight clear box. It was breathtaking and unlike anything I'd experienced previously.
The collection spans the 13th through 20th centuries, from the dynasty's origins in Maximilian I, who guided the Habsburgs to to their world-power status. This status allowed them to amass an unprecedented collection of art. The collection follows their rule all of the way to the end of World War I in 1918, which ended an almost 600-year rule in Europe.
A main player in this empire, and its last ruler, Maria Theresa, mother of the famously posh Marie Antoinette. The luxuriousness of the pieces, clothing, scenes, and jewelry come as no surprise considering the lineage.

A Portrait of Maria Theresa, 1729
A well cared-for, emotional and beautifully curated collection of art and artifacts. The piece that moved me the most was Fire by Giuseppe Arcimboldo, which I cannot believe was painted in 1566. I was not familiar with Arcimboldo's work and upon looking into him, was further moved. This piece appears to be part of a series, with Water and Earth counterparts. If someone hasn't written a psychological thriller based on his art yet, they should. Paging Stephen King!
Giuseppe Arcimboldo, Fire, 1566

Habsburgs: Rarely Seen Masterpieces from Europe's Greatest Dynasty runs through May 10 in The Minneapolis Institutre of Art's Target Galleries.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Board President Brenda Kayzar's April Letter to NEMAA Members

Hello Members,

As I write this, I am in the company of close to 10,000 geographers at the discipline’s annual

conference. We’ve convened in Chicago and since arriving I’ve noted the ubiquity of the arts;

from coffee shop galleries to exponential public art occurrences. The ubiquity of the arts (and

geographers!) is represented in the conference sessions as well through creative economy

discussions and analyses about the role the arts play as an economic driver in many cities; large

and small, thriving and moribund. The arts are foundational in urban geographic planning and

research. Moreover, while some resistance remains in accepting the reality of the arts based

economy in civic practice, there is little doubt about the value of arts production and activity

from the researchers in these sessions.

As I listen I’m given to reflection; on the NE community of artists and NEMAA. One of the

city’s most treasured events (Reader’s Choice in City Pages!) is about to take place for the 20th

time. Art-A-Whirl is welcomed with both unbounded excitement and tinges of trepidation. I

want to talk about the excitement first! This open studio event is a unique phenomenon in the

arts world. It represents a sustained, active and growing arts community, revealed in a blend of

numerous spaces of production, presentation and consumption of the arts, and spread throughout

1⁄4 of the city of Minneapolis. What a small cadre of artists, building owners and a community

have fostered in NE is truly a work of art in itself; one that countless cities in the U. S. and

abroad can only dream of replicating (did I mention the #1 Arts District designation in USA


And this brings me to the tinges of trepidation; the changing landscape of success. The

conversion of emptied industrial and commercial spaces into arts manufacturing spaces has

brought a wealth of economic and cultural life to NE, and a host of artists and visitors to local

businesses. Economic vibrancy, when sustained, has a way of spreading! For example, the

flourishing population that will descend on NE during the third weekend in May will want to eat,

have drinks, and participate in all that NE has to offer as they migrate through the studios to view

the artist’s creations. The community’s businesses (many of whom chose to be in NE because of

the vibrancy of the arts activity) are happy to abide. Yet, although this is the way arts driven

economic development is supposed to work, there have been bumps in the road as the artists and

businesses traverse this new and changing landscape of success. Artists worry that the intent and

focus of Art-A-Whirl is diminishing in the cacophony of the community-wide celebration, while

the small cadre of workers and volunteers that endeavor to put on the event struggle to maintain

the arts focus for their artist members...on a shoestring budget.

The size and scope of Art-A-Whirl...from the sale of ads to fund the production of the artist

guide, to the marketing and PR that is necessary to continually attract the over 30,000 visitors to

the artist’s studios in May, to the grant writing and sponsorship ‘asks’, to the recruiting and

managing of a team of contractors and volunteers...necessitates and year-round effort. Our

members, many of whom work diligently at this effort, fear having this hard work coopted and

therefore view some of the activity within the community with trepidation. In the main, the arts

community’s concern is that rather than supplement the open studio arts focus, street closings,

congestion, and noise might dilute the experience of viewing and buying art.

On the other hand, much of the activity in NE during Art-A-Whirl weekend does lend to the

vibrancy, and it offers opportunities for income and profit to a host of non-Art-A-Whirl

entrepreneurs, workers, and artisans. So, to the benefit of everyone in NE I think it remains

important to reflect on just what is responsible for the creation of this successful landscape of

opportunity that well over 30,000 people want to immerse themselves in during Art-A-Whirl.

The ARTS! It’s the work of the building owners that produces the impressive inventory of

studios in NE. It’s the work of the artists that transforms the studios into small businesses...the

entrepreneurial spaces where the production of arts products takes place...and during Art-A-
Whirl, is made available for sale to the public. And it is through the work of the building

owners, artists and community that Art-A-Whirl has grown to be an anticipated weekend of art

and celebration in May.

The intent of Art-A-Whirl 20 years ago was to throw open the studio doors so that visitors

could view and buy art. By maintaining the focus of this intent, everyone within the community

can greatly diminish the traces of trepidation. Artist Aldo Moroni suggested in an open letter to

the NE community that buying a piece of art from a NE artist during Art-A-Whirl would be the

“neighborly” thing to do, and I could not agree more. I would go one step further, however, to

suggest that the way to ensure all the benefits and celebration of NE during the third weekend in

May continues is to communicate and cooperate with, and support NEMAA, the tiny and mostly

volunteer non-profit organization that puts on Art-A-Whirl. We welcome any and all signs that

the NE community is thriving and profiting through this artist membership organization’s efforts

to promote Art-A-Whirl and the work of its artist members. And I can unabashedly state, as a

supporter and volunteer with NEMAA, that we also welcome and any and all efforts to reward

that opportunity to thrive and profit during Art-A-Whirl through a reciprocal and fiscal gesture of

support of the artists and NEMAA!

So, let us now commence with the excitement once anticipation of the 20th year of




Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Behind the WintertIde Biennial: An Interview with Jim Gerlich of the Cedarwoods Foundation

Jim Gerlich is a NEMAA member and portrait photographer who works with Hasselblad cameras. He also runs the Cedarwoods Foundation, which specializes in funding youth programming, arts organizations and animal welfare centers in the Twin Cities.

Thanks to the Cedarwoods Foundation, NEMAA is proud to be launching the first ever Wintertide Biennial Arts Exhibition, which will open January 24th at Public Functionary.

Click here for all the info about Wintertide!

In anticipation of this weekend's kickoff, we gave Jim Gerlich a call to talk about how the idea for Wintertide came about.

[transcript follows]

NEMAA: How are you today, and how did you get involved with NEMAA?

Jim Gerlich (JG): Just fine... Well, I shared a studio in Northeast Minneapolis with Patricia Punykova, and when the Solar Arts Building opened we got a studio over there.  She spent her time doing her artwork, which is glass work, and it kind of took over the space as the things I was doing got completed. I had been doing portraits with the Hasselblad setup, and everything got stolen!

NEMAA: Oh no! So what is the Cedarwoods foundation? What do you work on?

JG: The foundation is a family foundation established in 2011. We have three areas of funding: we do projects with youth in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, we support the arts, and we work on supporting animal welfare and well-being.

NEMAA: Well that’s an interesting list… Tell me about the Wintertide show. How does it fit into the picture, and how did it come about?
JG: I guess the genesis of Wintertide show came about last year at the NEMAA Fall Fine Arts show. It's great that everyone should be able to show their work. But I know quite a few artists in the Twin Cities, and I noticed that some of the very best artists didn’t seem like they were submitting their work. I hit on the idea of a show for top-tier artists, representative of the very best artists and art that the Twin Cities area has to display.

So I approached NEMAA with the idea of bringing those people out of the woodwork, and enticing them to show the best that Twin Cities’ art has to offer.  NEMAA said "yes," and that they’d been thinking of doing something along similar lines.
NEMAA: Did you have a particular model in mind? Why the biennial format?

JG: Well, we had several conversations, but I pretty much put it in NEMAA’s hands. They took the lead, and I supported their lead. Then we selected Public Functionary to have the show, and so here we are. It turns out that we’ve had more than double the submissions we’d expected! So my only regret is that we’re not going to be able to show more work. I know there will be some very good works that are not going to be shown because of the limitations of the gallery space.

NEMAA: Have you seen the work yet? Do you know who is going to be included?

JG: No, I haven’t seen anything. I’m going to see everything when everyone else does, on opening night.

NEMAA: How are you hoping that the Wintertide show might change the landscape of the Twin Cities’ art scene?

JG: I think we might give more recognition of the quality of Twin Cities artists. We’ll have to debrief when the show is completed and see what worked and what didn’t work and go on from there. I guess my advice is to go to the opening and see what you think!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Announcing the Wintertide Biennial Semi-Finalists

The first Wintertide Biennial is only weeks away, and we're excited to report that our jury has selected the semi-finalists for potential inclusion in the show. There will be one more  round of judging to determine the final participating artists.

The Wintertide Biennial is a new collaboration between NEMAA and Public Functionary  to highlight the quality of art produced by NEMAA artist members from around the metro area. Thanks to the Cedarwoods Foundation for their support.

Exhibit Location: Public Functionary / 1400 12th Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413

Exhibit Dates: January 24 - February 7, 2015

Opening Reception/Prizes Awarded: Saturday, January 24, 7pm-11pm

Hours: Thursday, 12pm-6pm / Friday, 12pm-6pm / Saturday, 12pm-6pm

Here are the names of the semi-finalists who will proceed to the second round of in-person judging, in alphabetical order. Congratulations to all of you, and best of luck!
  • Lynda Angelis
  • Natalia Berglund
  • Chad Breckenridge
  • Karen Brown
  • Francene Christianson
  • Eric Cornett
  • Kat Corrigan
  • Emily Donovan
  • Selma Fernandez
  • Nicole Fierce
  • Kyle Fokken
  • Tracy Frizzell
  • Teri Fullerton
  • Bryan Grose
  • Lindsy Halleckson
  • Carolyn Halliday
  • Stanley Hawthorne
  • Mike Hazard
  • Annie Hejny
  • Tucker Hollingsworth
  • Keith Holmes
  • David Holmes
  • Caitlin Karolczak
  • Brendan Kramp
  • Candy Kuehn
  • Jeff Lohaus
  • Dean Lucker
  • Stephanie Molstre-Kotz
  • Karen Morris
  • Shelly Mosman
  • Philip Noyed
  • Stephen Ozone
  • Barbara Porwit
  • Aaron Putt
  • Andy Richter
  • John Rodman
  • Kimberlee Roth
  • Madison Rubenstein
  • James Edward Scherbarth
  • Mary Simon-Casati
  • Suzanne Skon
  • Mary Solberg
  • Michael Speaker
  • Tressa Sularz
  • Nicky Torkzadeh
  • Dean Trisko
  • Sheryl Tuorila
  • Susan Wagner
  • Ann Wood

Important Correction: This list is of the semi-finalists for the show, not the list of final artists selected for the snow. We will announce the final selected artists soon. Apologies for the confusion.
[The Public Functionary space.]