Northside Arts Collective to throw itself a birthday bash


One of the jewels of North Minneapolis, the Northside Arts Collective (NAC), is celebrating its Fourth Annual Arts and Artists Gala on November 7.

The Northside Arts Collective’s Fourth Annual Arts and Artists Gala takes place Friday, November 7th from 5-9 p.m. at St. Anne’s Residence, 2323 26th Avenue N. For more information, see or call (612) 643-2050.

It all started with a group of artists who met in North Minneapolis to discuss bringing the arts to the community. Some 300 artists living on the Northside were identified, and what began as strategy sessions and potlucks became an institution through which artists could formally showcase their talent.

The first board of directors convened in 2006, establishing a mission to unite, enrich, and advance the Northside community through the arts. The NAC serves this mission by helping artists market their work, as well as working to incorporate the arts in schools and other community institutions. “If artists are better integrated in the community at large,” says NAC executive director Connie Beckers, “it demystifies the stereotype of artists as being selfish and lazy. [Artists are] contributors to society.”

Four NAC artists work at the Plymouth Youth Center planning a curriculum that includes art across all subjects, even math and science. NAC has also worked on art projects, like “Sidewalks Saving Lives,” a project spreading awareness of HIV. The Peace Foundation is their partner for the annual FLOW Northside Arts Crawl. “We view the Northside as one big art gallery,” says Beckers.

The collective is a membership organization with 185 current members. You may see some of the artists’ work in businesses like Papa’s Pizza, which features a one of a kind “Deli Gallery,” or inside of Fremont Auto Service, where one can find car part sculptures. Northside artists are also featured inside of professional offices such as EMERGE (Pillsbury United Communities), the office of Sen. Linda Higgins, and even Minneapolis City Hall. “Senator Higgins has been a great ambassador and member of ours,” says Beckers, “and Councilmember Don Samuels is also a great supporter.”

NAC is even present in the new Coloplast (a Danish medical device company) building that moved to West River Road in 2006. The City of Minneapolis purchased a piece by artist Christopher Harrison—a painting of Northside building icons—which was gifted to Coloplast.

Harrison is just one of the familiar names that have risen from the collective. Other well-known Northside artists like Seitu Jones, Ta-Coumba Aiken, Doug Lemon, and See Xeng Lee have also been featured frequently.

These artists and many more will be showcased during NAC’s Fourth Annual Arts and Artists Gala. This year’s theme is “Your Key to the Arts.” At least 30 items have been donated for the raffle. The fundraiser will also host a silent auction, live auction, and entertainment from Urban Cadence and the Capri Big Band.

Lauretta Dawolo Towns is a freelancer for several local community and ethnic news outlets. She is also a mentor in the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program and a consultant with the Girls in Action program at Patrick Henry High School. Towns is a resident of the McKinley neighborhood in North Minneapolis where she lives with her husband and newborn son.