Northeast artists resolute in face of recession

Northrup King Building. Photo by Melissa Slachetka.

Northeast Minneapolis has become the city's de facto visual arts district; artists have been moving to Northeast in large numbers since the 1980s, and currently Northeast houses more than 400 independent artists. "Northeast is definitely supportive of the art scene," says Northeast artist Tom Wolfe. "It is thriving here. In the 1980s it was the downtown warehouse area that was known for its art scene. Now it is Northeast."

At the Northrup King Building's 11th annual Art Attack, the 100+ local artists who maintain studios in the building were out in full force as the rumbling of passing trains added to the gritty Northeast ambience. The building's halls were filled with shoppers and art enthusiasts. People were definitely buying, but sales were down from previous years. "People this weekend seemed very satisfied with the number of people who attended and, more importantly, their interest in art," said building manager Debbie Woodward. "Some people's sales were up and others were down somewhat However, we [should] never gauge the success of the event [based] on sales. This building is enormous, and quite an eyeful for the average person."

"Art Attack had a strong attendance," says sculptor Ernest Miller—but, he says, the economic troubles on Wall Street seem to be trickling down to local artists. "We as creative individuals will have to just hold out. It is a part of the natural shakedown when funds are slowing. Those who can creatively adapt will survive."

Miller also noted the support the Northeast community gives to its artists. "The Northeast families and businesses are supportive of what is happening with the arts scene. They stop in the studio during events and converse about how the community has grown."

Another prominent Northeast building filled with artists' studios is the California Building. "I believe there is a perception that when it comes to buying or selling art, in a bad economy people have less disposable income for 'extras' like buying original art," says Wolfe, who is based in the California Building. "The reality may be different." Wolfe notes that he has never been able to rely on his art as a means of livelihood. "I have an outside job that supports my 'art habit.' I believe many of the artists in the California Building are in that situation. We have studios and make art because we see something that we feel needs to be created, because we like it and are moved by it. Sharing or selling is almost a byproduct of creating."

Casket Arts Building
Cache at the Casket, November 22 and 23
Opening reception November 22, 6-9 p.m.
This new open-studio art sale has ceramics, jewelry, glass, stationary, painting, and more. Cache features over 35 local artists, delicious food from Chowgirls Killer Catering, and live jazz.

Frank Stone Gallery
Holiday Show, December 12 - 23
Opening reception December 3, 5-9 p.m.
In addition to painting and sculpture, browse the unique selection of pottery, jewelry, and blown glass. Featuring artists from the Fall Artists Series.

Two 12 Pottery
Stop by any time for an assortment of gifts and handmade pottery by local artists Jim Brown and Bob Sorg.

Artistic Indulgence
Custom framing and original fine artwork from local and national artists. Featuring new work from Northeast artist Laurie Svedberg.

TLee Fine Designer Jewelry
Artist's Reception and Holiday Party, November 17, 6-9 p.m.
Introducing the art of Judith Westergard in "A Show of Hands." A night of special prices on jewelry, and the music of cellist Diane Tremaine.

First Thursdays
The Casket Arts Building and the Northrup King Building in Northeast open their studios on the first Thursday of every month. The next First Thursday is December 4.

Second Saturdays
Artists in the California Building showcase and sell a variety of artwork every second Saturday of the month. The next open studio event is December 13 from 11 a.m.-7 p.m.

Melissa Slachetka is a freelance writer and photographer who lives in Minneapolis and contributes regularly to the Daily Planet.

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Melissa Slachetka's picture
Melissa Slachetka

Melissa Slachetka (slachema [at] hotmail [dot] com) is a freelance writer, photographer, and book reviewer who lives in Minneapolis and contributes regularly to the Daily Planet.

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How we can solve this

This can be pretty easily solved though. Everyone seems to assume that money = wealth when that is not necessarily the case. Physical assets + skills + time + knowledge = wealth (or any combination thereof). Money is just a way to keep track of it but unfortuantely it is inflated. Community currencies and barter exchange networks, on the other hand, operate on the principal that everyone has wealth but that we just need to keep account of it in a way which doesnt cause inflation. We track it on a ledger and those who owe need to repay in their goods and/or services. The Swiss have been operating one that runs around 6 billion dollars per annum in transactions (the Swiss Wir) without the need for cash (actually theirs does involve some cash) and Argentina had a financial crisis in the 90s that saw the emergence of a local currency called the Credito (again billions USD per annum circulated). A new currency I saw emerge the other day is called Ormita, which looks promising as a way to help people barter what they have for what they need. Overall bartering seems the way to go and viable if there is a big enough community network to support it.