The space The Art Shoppe will soon occupy at the Midtown Global Market was still a work in progress on a recent Friday afternoon.
Situated next to a Mexican bakery, the future retail space was defined by hanging grid wall and secured with a cable bike lock. Inside the caged-off area sat an empty display case and a tree-like coat rack. The neon sign of the space’s former occupant still hung in the window.
But on Oct. 1, its first day of business, that was set to change.
The Art Shoppe is a start-up micro business created by local artists and A Minnesota Without Poverty, the Jewish Community Relations Council and Mount Olive Lutheran Church, with help from the Neighborhood Development Center, the Latino Economic Development Center and the Midtown Global Market. It is a part of A Minnesota Without Poverty campaign called “In Search of Enough,” which explores ideas of having enough for all and is a part of their larger goal to end poverty in Minnesota by 2020.
The Art Shoppe formed quickly. Mount Olive Lutheran was approached by A Minnesota Without Poverty in May, while the artists began discussions in mid-August.
The artists were brought together because of their shared experiences with poverty. All are professional artists hoping the venture will allow them to focus on their artwork full time. The finished space will offer works for sale by the artists and also an art demonstration area. Money made at the shop will go directly back to the them.
Terry Day was an artist involved with the project and its unofficial spokesperson. Day, who described herself as the “skinny brunette gal on the crutches,” was recently laid-off and specialized in making recycled jewelry.
“I think a lot of us are one paycheck away from homelessness,” she said.
Another artist was Raelene Ash, also known as “The Bag Lady.” Recently homeless but now in a more stable situation, Ash is known for her sketches on brown paper bags, hence the nickname.
“Most of us make some money on this, but it would be nice to do just this,” she said.
“… Art has been my life.”
Judy Cooper Lyle, an artist who will be handling some of the business aspects at The Art Shoppe, said, “We all have different backgrounds, yet similar.”
Cooper Lyle makes clothing such as scarves, dresses and kimonos from repurposed fabric. She is also the founder and artistic director of the Urban Spectrum Theatre.
Tara Innmon, a painter and writer, became involved with The Art Shoppe through her and Day’s work with the Artists with Disabilities Alliance. When faced with the reality of becoming completely blind due to glaucoma in the late 1980’s, Innmon painted furiously over a span of four years to complete 181 works.
Innmon earned her master of fine arts for creative writing from Hamline University in 2008 and is working on her memoir.
“I thought you can’t be an artist when you’re blind, but I found out the opposite,” Innmon said.
Their varied talents and a sense of having overcome hardships such as poverty and disability unite all the artists who make up The Art Shoppe.
“Art is so healing,” Day said. “And we’re all helping each other.”
Other artists initially involved with The Art Shoppe are Kim Buell, Linda Danielle Jones, Kate McEvoy, Aziz Osman and Keegan Xavi. A soft opening was scheduled for Oct. 1, and the grand opening will be held 5–8 p.m. Nov. 5.
The artists were already feeling enriched by the experience of getting The Art Shoppe off the ground and the new relationships made during the venture.
Said Day: “We all have full lives, and we’re making them fuller.”