Show your love for NE artists

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November 8, 2010
By: greg isola
greg isola
Just the other week, I had a conversation with a local mover-and-shaker in the NE arts world.  (He demurred at that description when I labeled him that way.) I had called him to set up this brief meeting based on the recommendation of another artist.

We discussed the current state of the arts in NE and commented on its long history. This arts leader then suggested to me that there was still much more to do in promoting our arts neighborhoods. He had read in an article recently where a major icon in the Minneapolis arts scene lamented about the lack of any arts district in Minneapolis.

For those of us who live and breathe “Northeast,” there could be nothing more shocking to read or hear.

The Art-a-Whirl neighborhood “art crawl” next May 20–22, 2011 will be the 16th annual. It is the “largest open studio and gallery tour in the U.S.,” as the organizers proudly state. Tens of thousands from the entire metro area come to see programs and visit NE galleries and stand-alone artists working in their basements and displaying in their livingrooms.

In 2003, after years of city arts planning, the City of Minneapolis officially designated the “Northeast Minneapolis Arts District,” a defined area encompassing essentially the Bottineau, Sheridan, Logan Park, and (most of) Holland neighborhoods.  This west central section of Northeast is located by the Mississippi and is now home to some 500 artists who live and/or work in this area throughout the year.

Arts renewal has also been a part of the academic reform at Edison High School. Edison art students created a public mural on the outside of the closed Hollywood Theater (neighborhood efforts continue to find a purchaser and reopen this venue). They recently completed new paintings and a mural within the historic high school.

The arts connection outside of Edison continues at Jackson Square Park. A very unique artistic baseball backstop is currently under construction. New public art, innovative outdoor musical instruments (only the second such installation in the state) and creative recreation gear are all a part of the new park offerings.

Music and theater is being renewed in our schools but they have always existed out of school too.  A new “community life” center owned by a NE church houses Camden Music School, offering lessons to all ages and abilities. My own wife — an Edison alum — is one of many who teaches music during the day and provides student and adult lessons during the evenings and weekends.

It is well known also in the community now that many of the neighborhood coffee shops and lounges regularly feature NE-grown and regional musicians for concerts and CD launches.

Our theater offerings continue to expand in Northeast. The Ritz on 13th Avenue is a mainstay.  Edison students have their own new theater opportunities. November will bring the debut of the Morris Park Players to NE with their performance of “Annie” at the Edison High School auditorium.  My sixth-grade daughter looks forward to acting her part as an orphan.

Public art dots the NE neighborhoods. Metallic sculptures are featured on the pathway along the Columbia Park golf course on Central Avenue. Where else but Northeast would you find a metal representational cow near the parking lot of Sentyrz’s or massive stone sculpting interfused with metal rods being created along the Mississippi?

Even artistic ceramics are on display as house numbers and as colorful public pieces in neighborhood yards.

This fall, many artists in Northeast will participate and show their work at a wide array of public events — First Thursdays, First Fridays, Open Saturdays, Second Saturdays, Art Attack, Fall Fine Arts Show, and Caché at the Casket & Carriage House — not to mention all the individual art showings of individual painters and jewelers and sculptors.

Follow all these great events with updates and links at our arts! NE website,, or on Twitter, follow the arts hashtag, #artsNE.

Greg Isola and his son, Abram Isola, promote Northeast Minneapolis community, arts, and business with their website, NE Mpls online at