Art on the SE Como Block


Originally the home of General Mills, 2010 Hennepin Ave. has changed over the years; seeing businesses come and go and hosting lone artists’ galleries and studios. Now, the warehouse has come back to life to form 2010 ArtBlok — home to studios for more than a dozen artists, dedicated to creating and displaying a wide variety of art.

During this year’s Art-A-Whirl in mid-May, 2010 ArtBlok hosted events within the warehouse to showcase works of the studio artists located there. Each gallery showcased their specialty in art, including the FOCI gallery, which demonstrated glass blowing.

While FOCI demonstrated their abilities on the lower level of the building, other artists exhibited their work on the floor above. Tea Leaf Gallery featured paintings by Larry Rostad, Phillip Hoffman and Kelli Fifield.

The FOCI gallery is one of the largest glass-blowing studios in Minnesota, and it is favored by interested viewers for demonstrations and actual glass blowers themselves.

Dan Sloper displayed his abilities during a demonstration to the public, taking over 30 minutes to finish a vase that shattered only a few minutes after being taken off the rod.

During his demonstration, Sloper added many layers of molten glass to the end of the rod, which weighed about 15–20 pounds.

According to Michael Boyd, the owner of the studio, glass blowers tend to have their own studios and keep to themselves. This differs from his studio, in that the artists help each other create their art. Because glass-blowing requires the artist to swing the glass around at the end of a rod, transport it from the furnace to the bench and mold it by hand, it would be nearly impossible to create such majestic art alone.

One thing that hasn’t changed in the art of glassblowing is the tools used to complete the job. A “glory hole” is a furnace full of molten glass, used to hold the glass and keep it melted. Another furnace radiates 2,500 degrees to heat the desired glass to keep it bendable and easy to mold. Numerous metal tools that seem to have come straight out of the Middle Ages sit on a workbench, waiting to cut or press the artwork in progress.

The artists showcasing at the gallery had differing levels of experience, yet all the art up for sale was stunning. Vases and decorations of all colors sat on shelves, even a glass slipper that would make Cinderella jealous.

Aaron Yngve, a gallery visitor, hoped to buy a piece of art from the gallery. Yngve said he appreciated “the performance art and massive physical exercise that goes into glass blowing.”

The FOCI studio also offers classes for newcomers and intermediate-level artists.

As for 2010 ArtBlok as a whole, Boyd said, “It is a great space. I will never find [another] building like this.” The building is host to painters, metal workers, stone carvers, bronze casters, glass blowers and more, each of whom gives “creative influence” to the other working artists.