Spyhouse Coffee, MCAD renew partnership with self-portrait show

Self-portraits done by MCAD students over the years on display at Spyhouse Coffee at 25th & Nicollet. The show will run through January. Photo by Andrew Hazzard.
Self-portraits done by MCAD students over the years on display at Spyhouse Coffee at 25th & Nicollet. The show will run through January. Photo by Andrew Hazzard.

Spyhouse Coffee and the Minneapolis College of Art and Design have always been close.

Located down the street from MCAD, Spyhouse’s original location at 25th & Nicollet used to be confused as a property of the art school, owner Christian Johnson said. Work from students and alumni have frequently adorned the walls over the years.

This month, Spyhouse began a more formal partnership with MCAD, one that will see the coffeehouse host shows curated by students, featuring student, teacher and alumni art for sale.

The first display, which began Nov. 2, is drawn from the MCAD Self-Portrait Competition. Each year, students at MCAD participate in a self-portrait competition. The show features about 25 self-portraits submitted to the competition over the years.

Self-portraits done by MCAD students over the years on display at Spyhouse Coffee at 25th & Nicollet. The show will run through January. Photo by Andrew Hazzard.
Self-portraits done by MCAD students over the years on display at Spyhouse Coffee at 25th & Nicollet. The show will run through January. Photo by Andrew Hazzard.

The self-portraits are the property of MCAD and are not for sale, but when the show wraps up in January curated shows from students will begin. Spyhouse won’t be taking a commission on any art that’s sold from those shows.

“Artists need to earn as much as they can,” Johnson said.

Showing art has always been a part of Spyhouse, which opened its first location along Nicollet a block from MCAD in 2000. Johnson said he used to walk through student studios and leave cards for artists to get them to put their work in his store.

A few years ago, a multimedia class at MCAD even had a Spyhouse-themed assignment. One of the pieces is on display at Spyhouse’s Uptown location at 24th & Hennepin.

A piece done by an MCAD student for a Spyhouse assignment hangs in the Spyhouse Coffee Uptown location at 24th & Hennepin. Submitted photo.
A piece done by an MCAD student for a Spyhouse assignment hangs in the Spyhouse Coffee Uptown location at 24th & Hennepin. Submitted photo.

Johnson approached MCAD to see if they could work together on having art displayed in the shop. He said the self-portrait show is good way to start out the relationship.

Johnson said he’s open to any art shows students are interested in putting into Spyhouse, whether that’s a single artist, a class or a group. He’d like the shows to be up for a couple months at a time, so people can get a feel for the pieces or come back if they like something.

“Usually artists sell one or two pieces every show, so it does help the art community,” Johnson said.

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