Located on the light rail line, and accessible via the skyway, Project Space is literally connected to downtown Saint Paul.
Betsy Byers' painting 'Convergence' is part of the first exhibition at the Minnesota Museum of American Art's new Project Space in downtown Saint Paul.
MPR Photo/Marianne Combs
MMAA Director Kristin Makholm stresses that this new space is not "the museum," but a place for people to connect with the museum's collection and to engage with art in a meaningful way.
As art museums across the country are looking for new ways to connect with their communities, the MMAA finds itself in a unique position; it has a complete collection, and the opportunity to create a completely new public presence.
"I wouldn't wish a closing on any organization because it is so hard to regroup," reflects Makholm, "but it is also a golden opportunity to refresh yourself from the ground up."
Andrew Wykes "12 Hours of Sunset 2", 2011
Image courtesy of the MMAA
The new gallery space is located in the Pioneer Building, which is currently undergoing a major renovation. For that reason, tomorrow night's celebration is not an official opening - delays are forcing the gallery to work around the construction schedule for now with "pop-up programs" until it can keep regular hours.
Despite the setback, the MMAA has put together an ambitious calendar of programming, including a First Friday film series, monthly artist presentations, and an after school program that follows the Saint Paul Public Schools curriculum.
Project Space's "Curator of Engagement" Christina Chang likens the new space to a living room:
"It's a gathering space; it's comfortable and welcoming and makes you feel that you're a part of it. In a big Beaux Arts museum you often feel that you have to tiptoe around and behave a certain way. We're going to encourage people to hang out here - it's not overwhelming or intimidating - this space is trying to break down those barriers to entry."
Phyllis Wiener (b. 1921)
Colors from the Coast, 1972
The first exhibition in the new space is titled "Painting the Place Between," inspired by a film of the same name. It features work by four Minnesota painters - Betsy Byers, Jil Evans, Holly Swift and Andrew Wykes - and combines them with selections from the MMAA's permanent collection.
While the subject of the show is landscapes, Chang says the painters included in the show are working with much more abstract methods:
"All these artists are much more interested in the experience of a landscape - not just the image, but the smell, the physical space. How do you capture that in a visual medium? 'The place between' refers to their own unique perspective - the place between the landscape and the viewers experience of it."
While the MMAA now has its own physical space to share its work, the museum continues to tour its work around the state, with shows at St. Catherine's University and the Weisman in the coming months.
"If we had 4000 square feet of gallery space we would be showing these exhibitions ourselves," says Makholm. "We're not that museum yet, but it's our goal to someday be that museum."
The celebration of Open Space begins tomorrow at 5:30pm for members, with a public reception beginning at 7:30pm.(1 Comments)
Ben Johnson (left) who is credited with revitalizing the dance program at the Northrop Auditorium and is spearheading the refurbishment of the historic U of M performance space, will leave January 1st to become Director of Programs for the United States Artists Foundation in Los Angeles. There he will oversee the USA Fellows program, which awards major $50,000 grants annually to 50 artists who work in film, theater, dance, music, design, visual arts, literature, and American craft.
In a statement released this afternoon Johnson said: "Naturally, the decision to depart Northrop was incredibly difficult, as this historic organization and program has been instrumental in my arts career. This opportunity to serve artists so directly, and at such a scale, is at the center of my greatest passions and career aspirations. I will be actively engaged in the LA art scene, as well as working on a national level in all 50 states."
Johnson is responsible for bringing some of the top dance companies in the world to Northrop, and recently began collaborating with the University of St Catherine on the Women of Substance series. Just last night the program featured Miami choreographer Rosie Herrera.
The Northrop has been closed for a year while it is extensively remodeled and refurbished, but Johnson continued the program in collaboration with theaters in downtown Minneapolis. He has also been working on a huge program for the re-opening of the hall next year.
Northrop Director Christine Tschida said Johnson will be missed.
"Ben's legacy has been a great one at Northrop Concerts and Lectures, and, in the exciting seasons ahead, I know you will see his influence - and also his smiling face, in what I hope will be frequent visits!"
(Image courtesy Northrop Auditorium, photo - Tim Rummelhoff)