All My Relations Gallery
One of the great joys of covering the arts in Minnesota, is that through the artistic lens, I also get to explore and celebrate our state's cultural diversity. And so it was with great pleasure that I went to visit "All My Relations" gallery, the new home to contemporary Native American art, on Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis.
It's located in the same building as the offices of NACDI - the Native American Community Development Institute - and is a key part of NACDI's efforts to revitalize the Franklin neighborhood.
Elizabeth Day, Arts coordinator for "All My Relations," says the mission of the gallery is not just about promoting American Indian contemporary fine art, but also about community building, and empowering people. She says the new space, and its reception in the community, has completely exceeded all of her expectations:
I didn't really know what to expect, but I didn't expect this - the amount of community support we've had, the quality of the space. We tried to hire as many Native American workers as possible for labor - and we didn't realize it until the end, but the workers donated their time off-hours to make this happen. I think the community has a lot of pride in this gallery - it's bigger than us.
"Atomic Warrior," Frank Big Bear
For its inaugural exhibition "All My Relations" is showing new work by Frank Big Bear, on display through March 27. Approximately 400 people showed up for the gallery's opening celebration, including Minneapolis Institute of Arts curator Joe Horse Capture. He says it's a great time to live in Minneapolis:
The opening of All My Relations Gallery is so important to our community, and their first featured artist, Frank Big Bear, sets the stage for great exhibitions. It provides a new venue in our city where Native American artists can share their work with the public. There are very few art galleries that are owned and operated by Native Americans in the country.
The gallery fills a hole left by the closing of "Ancient Traders Gallery" which shut down in January of 2010. Ancient Traders was just down the street, in the building that houses Maria's Cafe.
"Silence of a Cricket," Frank Big Bear
Keeping the gallery in the neighborhood on Franklin Ave was very important to Heid Erdrich, the current curator, and to NACDI, in order to make the art as accessible as possible to the local Native American community.
"My goal for the program is to see a higher profile venue for the artists we work with at an inviting, accessible location," says Erdrich. "It is a huge thrill to see this gallery open."
NACDI has also opened "Pow Wow Grounds" - a coffee shop - in the gallery lobby to encourage people to hang out.
"The whole gallery we feel is a critical piece to our larger piece which is the Native American Cultural Corridor," says Elizabeth Day, "and we feel the arts are an important part of that community development, and creating a destination feel to this area."
"Poetry of Joseph E. Big Bear," Frank Big Bear
Looking to the future, Heid Erdrich says she wouldn't be surprised if NACDI developed an Arts Center, or a live/work space within the American Indian Cultural Corridor.(1 Comments)
Posted at 1:51 PM on March 23, 2011
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: Galleries
"Blue Fog Prophet," Andrea Stanislav
I remember the day I first heard about Chambers Hotel's (then) new Burnet gallery. "A hotel gallery," I mused. "How corporate. Well, I'll probably never have reason to cover that."
I couldn't have been more wrong. Over the past five years, gallery director Jennifer Phelps (pictured at left) has continued to showcase great talent in her space on Hennepin Avenue, and the majority of the artists have been local names with national chops. Now, whenever I get a press release announcing a new show at the Burnet Gallery, I know to give it a thorough read.
The gallery wasn't originally intended for showcasing local artists, however. Phelps says when she was first hired - just before the hotel opened - the idea was for the space to show items from Ralph and Peggy Burnet's (of "Coldwell Banker Burnet", the couple are major art collectors), personal collection, rotating in new work every three months. But Phelps says that plan didn't last long:
"After three months Ralph said it was too boring," laughs Phelps. "He decided he wanted to show local and international artists. It's really Ralph's desire to support the local art scene, but also to bring in work from out of town, to expose the locals to new work as well. And so Minneapolis photographer Angela Strassheim had the first solo exhibition in the gallery in May, 2007."
Phelps certainly knows how to pick them. Since the 2007 show, Strassheim's career has continued to skyrocket; she's taken her studio to New York City full time, shown her work in Europe, Israel and the Ukraine, and is now the subject of an exhibition back home at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.
"Untitled," Angela Strassheim
Strassheim's work is now back at Burnet as part of a group show called "Fresh," celebrating the gallery's fifth anniversary. Other artists include Andrea Stanislav, David Bartley, Allen Brewer, Chris Larson and Megan Rye.
"It was tough," says Phelps. "We just whittled down the parameters to artists who had solo shows here before, but not too recently."
If there's a theme to "Fresh," it's that several of the artists are trying completely new things; David Bartley went from angst ridden collage work to minimalist painting, Andrea Stanislav - who normally does thick layered resin pieces and sculptures - brought in a print. Megan Rye, whose solo show featured paintings of military scenes in Iraq, produced a series of studies of butchered pigs at a market in Puerta Vallarta.
Pig 21, Megan Rye
Burnet Gallery hosts six solo shows a year, and typically four of them are local artists. Phelps says she tries to balance the work between new artists who are just starting out, and well-established artists who haven't let the success go to their heads.
"People tell me that they appreciate the fact we show so much local work. But I don't want to peg us as a local-only gallery," says Phelps.
Looking to the next five years, Phelps says she feels like there are destined to be changes ahead, because social media and technology is rapidly changing the world of exhibiting.
"Artists have a lot more control of their careers, or have more ability to promote themselves," says Phelps. "The hierarchy is shifting, which makes me think about what is a gallery? It seems like everything changes on a daily basis. And maybe there are different ways to approach art. I don't have the answer yet, but it's kind of exciting."
Phelps says she feels like the art world is on the edge of the unknown, and it doesn't yet make sense which way to go.
"Fresh" runs through May 1 at Burnet Gallery, located in the Le Meridien Chambers Hotel on Hennepin Avenue in downtown Minneapolis.
Thanks to Cameron Wittig and the Walker Art Center for the photo of Jennifer Phelps.
Posted at 10:22 AM on March 23, 2011
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: News and reviews
Editor's note: While I usually focus on local reporting, the deaths of Elizabeth Taylor and Pinetop Perkins seemed particularly noteworthy, so I've linked to stories on both.
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