It was a beautiful spring afternoon in May. The first annual Bike Art exhibit was up, and we had a partnership with Walking Shadow Theatre Company to host several readings of its hit, 10-Speed Revolution. It’s no surprise the play was such a smashing success: even the live reading was humorous, witty, lively, and a fun take on the bike culture of Minneapolis. The live readings were presented as special events during Art-A-Whirl weekend.
Presented by NEMAA, Art-A-Whirl is the largest open studios tour in America. For one weekend each year, hundreds of artists within the district open their studio doors and welcome guests to the neighborhood, sharing their artwork and creative spaces with the public. Art-A-Whirl is part of why Altered Esthetics was opened in Northeast Minneapolis. I’m certain it was a big part of why we did so well those first years, thanks to NEMAA and the strong local community.
A lovely rendition of 10-Speed Revolution had gotten underway when a young man stumbled into the gallery, a brown paper bag hiding a near-empty bottle of Sour Apple Pucker. “Heyyyy,” he breathed at me as he shuffled through the space. “Howsit goooin’?”
The performance room full, he propped himself up a couch in the office space, watching through that unusual unspackled window that separated the rooms. Already trashed, he laughed loudly and awkwardly at all the wrong moments. He mumbled comments to himself confusedly, not following the plot in even the tiniest way. And he reeked of Sour Apple Pucker.
A relatively small person, I considered the ramifications and process of escorting him back into the crowd of Art-A-Whirl and away from the performance. As I contemplated my next moves I was halted by the sound of a snore coarsely emerging. I peeked over to see our new friend completely passed out, face firmly flattened up against the glass, a tiny river of drool ribboning onto the couch below.
On the more positive side of the event, it began a great collegial relationship. I immediately felt connected with the people at Walking Shadow Theatre Company. Fellow art enthusiasts and nonprofit nerds, we were all at the early stages of getting things going for our respective organizations.
Though our organizations were roughly the same age, they were further along in their pursuit of nonprofit status and had some helpful tips for me as I began the process. One of which: get help! (It really was a lot of paperwork.) John, David, and Amy, the founders, were great friends to have in the wonderful but sometimes challenging nonprofit arts community. David graciously shared with me insight about their process when applying for their 501(c)(3) status, and I always looked forward to quick hellos and hugs whenever we’d run into each other at exhibitions or when dropping off postcards.
We all stayed in touch over the years, mutually supportive in our respective corners of the creative community. We’d connect every once and again for coffee, art, and projects. John’s band Bad September played our steampunk-themed seventh-anniversary fundraiser, and he and Amy came for one of our live “Suit Up” drawing events dressed to the nines for the drawing group. While we never had the opportunity to have another reading like we did for 10-Speed Revolution, it made a particularly awesome addition to the show, especially during a busy district weekend.
As luck would have it, the 2019 Art-A-Whirl is THIS WEEKEND! Check out Northeast’s Arty scene and open studios tour:
Friday May 17, 5pm-10pm
Saturday May 18, 12pm-8pm
Sunday May 19, 12pm-5pm
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.