Thursday, June 13, 2024

Minneapolis, MN Art Scene: Exploring the Creative Side of the Twin Cities

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If you’re thinking about living in Minneapolis, MN, you’ll quickly find that this city boasts an art scene that’s as diverse as the city itself. From world-class museums to grassroots galleries, and from towering sculptures to hidden street art gems, this city pulses with artistic energy at every turn. 

Whether you’re settling into a new apartment in Minneapolis, MN or renting a house in the city, this article serves as a comprehensive guide to navigating Minneapolis’s thriving art scene. Let’s jump in.

Minneapolis skyline

1. Check out the Northeast neighborhood

“If you’re moving to Minneapolis, be sure to explore the vibrant art scene in the Northeast neighborhood and check this activity off your Minneapolis bucket list,” suggests Camille Rafa-Knutson, a jeweler and goldsmith at Girl Meets Joy

Discover converted historic factory warehouse buildings now housing a variety of artist spaces, including jewelers, potters, painters, sculptors, and more. Additionally, the City of Lakes boasts numerous nationally renowned galleries and museums, ensuring there’s something for everyone to enjoy and engage with during their visit, making art an integral part of their experience.

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2. Find one-of-a-kind-pieces

The Northrup King Building houses over 400 artists working in varying mediums,” explains Linda Clayton, a quarter-owner of Goza Gallery, a women-owned business featuring work by various female artists. “If you are searching for one-of-a-kind pieces to really make your place feel like home, this is the perfect place. Stop by on Saturdays or the occasional for the next building-wide event. With this many artists located under one roof your search for art has just landed the jackpot.”

Goza Gallery is a great spot to check out for one of a kind pieces in the Minneapolis art scene

3. Enroll in an art class and find your creative calling

Enrolling in art classes is not only a fun thing to do in Minneapolis, but it also provides a structured environment for individuals to explore their creativity and discover their artistic talents. Through guided instruction and hands-on experience, students can experiment with various artistic techniques and mediums, helping them uncover their strengths and interests.

Discover the latest addition to Northeast Minneapolis’s artisan scene at Simply Creative, a local gift shop showcasing the works of over 70 artists. Explore their expansive workshop area, where artists lead engaging arts and crafts workshops, offering a chance to learn new skills in a relaxed and welcoming setting. From beginner metalsmithing to cookie decorating, candle making, fiber arts, block printing, and painting classes, Simply Creative offers a diverse range of adult arts and crafts experiences to suit every interest.

Or, explore the world of movement and creativity at Hothouse, a dynamic studio in Minneapolis that invites you to explore drop-in dance, arts, and fitness classes tailored for adults and teens. Whether you’re deeply rooted in the local arts scene, aspiring to refine your dance skills, or simply drawn to the joy of movement, this dance studio provides a welcoming environment for all. Just like a flourishing community garden, Hothouse thrives on the diversity of individuals who grace the space.

4. Find new pottery pieces for your home in Minneapolis, MN

“The pottery scene in Minneapolis is among the most robust in the country,” shares Kerry Brooks, owner and founder of Dock 6 Pottery, a ceramics gallery and classroom specializing in distinctive handmade pottery, located in the Longfellow neighborhood of Minneapolis. “There’s an incredibly long tradition going back decades. Sadly, it’s only been recently that under-represented groups are finding their way into the pottery scene–but more arrive everyday. We love to feature the best of the best from all walks. In Minneapolis alone, you can find hundreds of potters making all kinds of work from sleek to rustic, functional to more sculptural.”

Be sure to check out NICE NICE Ceramics, a charming small business owned and run by the dynamic duo Molly May and Johnne Law McMahan. Located in North Minneapolis, their studio is stocked with refined and functional ceramics and housewares that seamlessly blend digital mark-making with handmade craftsmanship. If you’re on the hunt for unique pieces for your new Minneapolis home, you’ll find their exquisite collection showcased in boutique stores across the Twin Cities. 

Pottery enhances homes with artisanal charm, adding warmth and character. Its unique textures and shapes create visual interest and a sense of authenticity. Whether used decoratively or functionally, pottery items offer versatility to suit diverse interior styles, making them timeless additions to any home.

Chest of pottery

5. Perfect your music skills

The Music Lab, nestled in the charming Hale neighborhood in Northeast Minneapolis, is a music school for students of all ages to discover their musical talents and passions. With over 20 expert teachers deeply ingrained in the local music scene, the school offers an environment for honing musical skills. From personalized private lessons to energetic group band sessions and engaging summer camps, there’s something for everyone.

Attending a music school provides structured learning environments with experienced instructors, fostering skill development and musical growth through personalized guidance, access to resources, and opportunities for collaboration.

6. Explore the institutions and organizations that shaped the Minneaplis art scene

Rob Sherer from The Orange Advisory – advising, collection management services, and operating TOA Presents to support artists – delves into the renowned art institutions and organizations shaping Minneapolis’s cultural landscape.

“Minneapolis has long been home to renowned public art institutions and organizations, including Walker Art Center, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, the Weisman Art Museum, the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Juxtaposition Arts, and Midway Contemporary Art,” explains Sherer. “In recent years, Minneapolis has seen a surge in galleries, artist-run spaces, and project venues, enhancing its arts ecosystem and providing unprecedented opportunities for emerging artists. This transformative shift, led by new venue owners and organizers, has resulted in a more dynamic, diverse, and sustainable network of arts organizations and businesses, signaling a promising future for the city’s cultural scene.”

7. Fire up your creativity through pottery

In the heart of Minneapolis lies The Cracked Pot Studio, where you can experience the healing power of clay. Here, amidst a buzzing atmosphere of innovation and imagination, artists of every skill level gather to learn about the diverse range of artistic mediums. From pottery to painting, sculpture to mixed media, the studio offers an immersive experience tailored to nurture and inspire the artist within you. The studio is the perfect space to cultivate your craft and connect with a community of like-minded individuals. 

If you’re looking for a unique and immersive artistic experience in Minneapolis, look no further than Dame Errant clay art studio. Unlike traditional art galleries or museums, Dame Errant invites visitors to dive into the world of clay art and discover the joy of sculpting with their own hands. Whether you’re a seasoned artist or a curious beginner, you’ll feel right at home in their sunlit studio, surrounded by a supportive community of fellow creators. With knowledgeable guides on hand to offer assistance and encouragement, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the magic of self-expression through clay, leaving with not just a crafted piece, but also a renewed sense of inspiration and connection to Minneapolis’ vibrant artistic scene.

8. Visit the Midwest’s premier Indigenous arts gallery

Visit the Midwest’s premier Indigenous arts gallery, All My Relations Arts, located in the heart of the American Indian Cultural Corridor in Minneapolis off of Franklin Avenue. This gallery features rotating programming of innovative and contemporary exhibitions from Native American artists. It’s also a vibrant gathering space for community engagement, education, and outreach, and an entry point for shared Indigenous understanding across cultures. The neighborhood coffee shop, Pow Wow Grounds, is a great place to grab a coffee or wild rice muffin before or after stopping by the gallery.

9. Check out the traveling art studio based in Minneapolis

Consider exploring The Blue Fox, a traveling art studio offering a diverse array of classes and workshops if you’re eager to delve into artistry while connecting with fellow creatives. Specializing in barn quilt painting and offering imaginative summer camps like Stop-Motion Animation and Harry Potter Adventures, there’s a vibrant space waiting to inspire your artistic journey.

10. Check out local art festivals

Attending art festivals is a fantastic way to discover the art scene in a city because they offer a concentrated dose of the local artistic talent and culture in one place. These festivals typically feature a wide range of artworks, from traditional to contemporary, allowing attendees to explore various styles and mediums. Additionally, art festivals often attract both emerging and established artists, providing an opportunity to interact directly with them and learn about their creative processes. 

“The Minneapolis art scene is incredibly diverse and vibrant, with a wide range of styles represented,” explains Painting Circle, offering painting classes. “Whether you’re interested in painting, sculpture, photography, digital art, you’re sure to find lots of inspiration by visiting the festivals such as Art in Bloom festival, the Uptown Art Fair, and the Powderhorn Art Fair. These events are a great way to see the work of a wide range of artists and to support the local art community.”

Local art festival in Minneapolis, MN

11. Journey through Nordic tradition and culinary delights

“Minneapolis, though often dubbed the ‘mini-apple,’ boasts an abundance of artistic charm that rivals its larger counterpart,” shares Hollie Blanchard, founder and art concierge at ArtGirls. “A must-visit is the American Swedish Institute, where Nordic traditions come alive through art, history, and cuisine. Visit the stunning Turnblad Castle, showcasing the Golden Age of Architecture, and delve into its fascinating family history. Indulge in delectable breakfast and lunch offerings at Fika, where legendary Swedish meatballs and exquisite Bloody Marys await.” 

Whether exploring the museum’s galleries, savoring Scandinavian delicacies at the on-site café, or participating in hands-on workshops, visitors are invited to delve into Swedish heritage while enjoying a memorable cultural experience.

12. Spend a day exploring the art scene

One of the best ways to truly understand your new city is by dedicating a day to exploring its art scene. It’s not just about discovering local culture; it’s about delving into the city’s soul and identity. From galleries to street art, each encounter unveils layers of history, community spirit, and contemporary trends. Engaging with the art scene fosters a sense of connection and belonging, offering an unforgettable journey of inspiration.

“The Minneapolis art scene is ablaze with colorful murals, sculptures, and museums,” states Beth Blair, a travel and lifestyle blogger at Momivational. “Start on Hennepin to catch a glimpse of Bob Dylan, Prince, and other stunning murals or stroll the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden to view the whimsical landmark Spoonbridge Cherry with the dazzling city as a backdrop. Finally, throw your hat in the air with Mary Tyler Moore at Nicollet and 7th Street.”

Hollie Blanchard of ArtGirls goes on to share, “For vintage enthusiasts, Victory Vintage is a treasure trove of estate artwork and unique finds. Lose yourself in the Impressionistic wing of the MIA or capture insta-worthy moments at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, home to the iconic Cherry and Spoon. Experience the magic of the Guthrie Theater with performances by renowned actors, or let the melodies of Orchestra Hall enchant you. And no visit to Minneapolis is complete without a trip to Paisley Park, where Prince’s timeless music was born— and don’t forget your ‘Raspberry Beret’.”

13. Discover new global flavors and cooking techniques

Mimi Selam, cooking instructor at Mimi’s Cooking Class, states “The quality of food and how it’s prepared can profoundly impact our quality of life. In our classes, we fuse local and global flavors, offering dishes like Pad Thai, Egg Rolls, Samosa, Ethiopian and Eritrean cuisine, Mediterranean chicken with homemade hummus, handmade pasta, Baklava, Tiramisu, and a variety of international recipes and techniques. Through cooking, we can foster a sense of community and family, promoting a unified ‘one world’ concept.”

Homemade pasta noodles

14. Explore 50 years of art at Douglas Flanders & Associates

Don’s miss a visit to Douglas Flanders & Associates Fine Art Gallery, a cornerstone of the Twin Cities’ art scene for over 50 years. Located in Edina, MN, this gallery boasts an impressive collection spanning from the late 19th century to contemporary pieces, featuring renowned artists like Picasso, Van Gogh, and Warhol, as well as a strong representation of local talent. With over 15,000 artworks to explore, you’re bound to find the perfect piece to add to your collection.

15. See the fusion of artistic expression and body art firsthand

Tattoo parlors contribute significantly to the vibrancy and diversity of the art scene, offering a unique medium for creative expression and fostering connections between artists and their clients through permanent works of body art.

Ocean Blue Tattoo and Art Studio, located near the Mall of America, seamlessly combines the essence of a conventional tattoo parlor with the charm of a traditional fine art gallery. Catering to clients throughout the broader Minneapolis metro region, their establishment features an eclectic array of captivating artwork and murals adorning its walls. Customers connect with devoted artists who initially trained in classical art forms and have evolved to master a diverse range of tattoo styles. Led by the renowned watercolor tattoo artist Daniel Natural, their team excels in crafting realistic, 3D, illustrative, geometric, and dot-work tattoos, ensuring a personalized and exceptional experience for every client.

16. Attend the GeekCraft Expo for handmade geek goods

Created and founded by Marvel comic book writer Daniel Way, GeekCraft Expo is the Twin Cities’ largest annual curated market featuring handmade geek goods by nearly 100 local crafters and makers. Since it began in 2018, it has grown to the point where, beginning this year, an extra “preview night” has been added on Friday, giving a limited number of early birds the opportunity to shop the entire market when it’s not only much less crowded but also when the selection of geeky goodness is at its absolute best.

17. Experience the best of local art

By appointment only, Great River Gallery showcases local artists across various mediums and hosts engaging pottery and wine classes. Immerse yourself in the gallery’s charming ambiance, featuring exposed brick walls and original tin ceilings that beautifully complement the vibrant artworks on display. If you’re drawn to fine art photography, this space promises to spark your creativity. After your visit, check out nearby dining, music venues, and cocktail lounges.

18. Journey into the heart of literary arts

Venture to the Open Book building nestled in the Minneapolis Mill District, housing the nation’s only center for book and literary arts. Explore the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, a founding partner, where you can browse through a shop showcasing zines, prints, artist’s books, and gifts crafted by over 250 local and national artists. Immerse yourself in creativity as you observe artists in action in the letterpress, screenprinting, papermaking, and bookbinding studios, or participate in one of the many book arts workshops offered weekly. Additionally, the building offers a cozy coffee shop, a hub for writers, a nonprofit publisher and bookstore, and a center for weaving, all amidst a bustling schedule of events happening each week.

Books in Minneapolis

19. Laugh all night at an improv comedy show

If improv comedy is on your agenda, start at HUGE Improv Theater in the Lyn Lake neighborhood, where original shows light up the stage nearly every night. Downtown, don’t miss the iconic Brave New Workshop, the longest-running satirical sketch comedy theater in the U.S., where improv follows each sketch review. For a diverse lineup of sketch, storytelling, poetry, and more improv, head to Strike Theater in Northeast Minneapolis, the ultimate hotspot for comedy enthusiasts.

Minneapolis, MN art scene: Final thoughts

From world-class museums to grassroots galleries, from traditional mediums to innovative forms of expression, the city pulsates with creative energy at every turn. Whether exploring the historic Northeast neighborhood, immersing oneself in the transformative world of clay at local studios, or attending dynamic art festivals and exhibitions, there are countless opportunities to engage with the artistic spirit of Minneapolis. With its diverse array of artistic offerings and supportive creative community, Minneapolis is a good place to live to connect with art.

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