Minneapolis, MN—November 2006
One nice thing about moving a few doors down is that you can avoid the expense of a moving van.
One annoying thing about moving a few doors down is that you don’t have the convenience of a moving van!
Box by box, frame by frame, desk by desk, I and a few artists and friends moved Altered Esthetics to our new home. Before we moved in, Jono, the building owner, installed track lighting, stepping the professional quality of our exhibits up several notches. The Q.arma building was exactly the right home we needed as we grew. Jono invested in his tenants as well as the greater Northeast arts community, and we couldn’t have asked for a better building owner (one who would cringe if you were to use the word “landlord”). His support extended from our businesses to who we were as young professionals.
Our new home offered bright hardwood floors, large windows, and loads of natural light were a welcome change from our cozy but darker prior space. We also built a proper storage space, one not prone to flooding!
The move to the Q.arma building at 1224 Quincy Street was a good one. The space was a little more accessible, as it was on the first floor. Instead of a long rectangular space we had a squarish space approximately 1,000 square feet, with a white brick wall on the outer edge. Two tall and wide windows let tremendous amounts of light fall into the space, particularly in the afternoons. In the fall the beautiful old building had a unique smell, a combination of the wooden support beams and wooden floors, baked over time by the brick surrounding the building’s outer edges.
The environment at the Q.arma building was warm, welcoming, and wonderful. I had gotten to know Jono through our work coordinating events on Quincy Street. He was excited to have us as tenants, considering us an anchor institution in his building. During our ten years there he made strategic investments into the building, and it improved more and more, year after year. By the time we left he had created community gallery spaces in the center of every floor. Th is included the basement, which earlier had served as a creepy maze of dark rehearsal spaces, boiler rooms, and a haunted crypt of some kind (probably).
We made some critical investments into the space, but even beyond the infrastructure improvements it was a good move for us all around. Th e building was more active on a daily basis, and we established great relationships there. We collaborated for Art-A-Whirl, hosted concurrent openings, and partnered on exhibitions. Even the hair salon next door hosted some artwork on occasion to a well-receiving and well-coiffed crowd. It was definitely the right space at the right time.
We kicked off the new space with the second installation of our Level_13: Video Game series, titled (of course) Level_13: Bonus Round. The artwork and the space had both leveled up considerably. We welcomed the work of Brooklyn-based artist Alex Paik, whose large, vibrant 8-bit pastel acrylic paintings commanded the room. On the far wall of the gallery artist Lauri Svedberg immaculately freehanded a screen capture from Super Mario Bros., complete with mushroom. Becca Jo Malmstrom crafted a beaded Ms. Pac-Man, complete with a feathery tutu. Steve Ogdahl created an amazing LED light wall, programmable into literally millions of animated combinations.
We also brought more to the entertainment factor of the evening, courtesy of gallery friend Jeff Leyda. He had taken a tabletop Galaga machine and programmed it to play any Atari game imaginable. Caly McMorrow deejayed that evening, with layers of loops, 8-bit sounds, and synth. Together we celebrated one of our favorite themes, video games, in our shiny, new, and dry gallery space.
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.
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.