My music friends in Minneapolis were some of Altered Esthetics’ first core supporters, especially in the early days. They came out to all of our exhibitions and played until sunup as we danced at opening receptions. Their presence added diversity of media we wouldn’t see at the gallery again for years to come, when we gradually began to bring music back into our openings.
In the second year of operations I was contacted by my friend Jon, who was launching a new event at the Dinkytowner. The Dinkytowner was great basement bar near the University of Minnesota. They featured breakfasts to cure even the worst hangover, pool tables in the back, and a dance floor up front. My friend wondered if I would be interested in setting up some art during what would become a regular event: Convergence. No constraints on what we could show, just local art for local music-goers. “Sounds great!” I said excitedly. I connected with some artist friends and the next weekend I packed a rolling cart with supplies and artwork. I then headed to Dinkytown, Minneapolis, to set up our first pop-up gallery.
That night was to be the first of many art exhibits in unusual venues. For several years in a row we hosted mobile exhibits in downtown Minneapolis during Bike/Walk to Work Week. When the annual Bike Expo was held in the Minneapolis Convention Center, I set up a Bike Art exhibition with several of our regular artists. Our presence added a creative element to the largely industry-centric event. I even helped curate a small exhibit of photography for the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Peace Coffee’s parent company, for its twentieth-anniversary event.
These pop-ups were all great opportunities to connect with community members that might not have come through our gallery door otherwise, and they also provided us with ways to connect with artists that hadn’t yet heard about Altered Esthetics. Over the next decade, pop-up galleries and art exhibitions would become increasingly popular and well executed, particularly as the place-making movement took root in the Twin Cities. Through these pop-ups I learned the importance of not remaining behind the gallery walls, but getting out into the community too.
This post is adapted from It’s Never Going To Work: A Tale of Art and Nonprofits in the Minneapolis Community with illustrations by Athena Currier. Post graphics by Jamie Schumacher. ©2018 Jamie Schumacher.
It’s Never Going To Work is a light-hearted, illustrated book that offers real-life insights on founding a community space and nonprofit. It provides tools, tips, resources, and camaraderie to community organizers and anybody attempting something new.