There’s an organization in Northeast Minneapolis dedicated to supporting artists—the Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association (NEMAA). It organizes the annual Art-A-Whirl event I spoke of, among other juried events, workshops, and activities. Each year there is an annual meeting for its members, and as active participants of Art-A-Whirl, representatives from Altered Esthetics would attend. (The 2019 Art-A-Whirl is right around the corner, May 17-19, 2019!
In 2006 this annual membership event was held at the Firefighters Hall and Museum, a Northeast institution full of memorabilia from Minnesota fire departments as long ago as 1860. It coincided with an open call for artists, so I passed around tiny postcards with information about the upcoming exhibit: The Art of Sin.
A few days later, I got an excited email from a new artist. Sue Christensen would eventually become one of my closest friends in Northeast and a regular fixture at Altered Esthetics. She was excited to submit something, noting that anybody that had the gumption to host a sin-themed exhibition in the church-filled neighborhood of Northeast was somebody she definitely wanted to get to know! Fun fact: there are a plethora of churches in Northeast—such that Northeast Minneapolis even holds a world record for the number of churches on one single block. (The number is four, in case you are curious.)
You might imagine a sin-themed exhibit was full of provocative and scandalous works of art. And it was! The exhibition was as titillating as the theme, with so many well-executed pieces. Mike Menasco, one of the owners of Artistic Indulgence, completed works that had been ruminating in his mind for quite some time. His beautifully rendered series of the seven deadly sins was complete with gold leaf backing behind the illustrations and ornately framed. Sue Christensen (my new BFF) shared a series of vibrant hand-built pottery, with little glimpses of hidden nudity throughout. Jody Bee, a local musician, performed Tom Waits covers including, of course, “Temptation.”
You can order anything on the internet these days, so I splurged and ordered a stack of custom poker chips to be given out at the opening, a fun embellishment for the exhibit. The meager furnishings of the gallery were remarkably appropriate as well. A few hand-me-down couches, chairs, and a long wooden church pew ready for confessions.
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.