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A work of Artspace

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Kim Fundingsland/MDN : Minot’s Artspace is one of 52 such endeavors in the United States, committed to providing an atmosphere for various artists to pursue and develop their talents.

It opened seven years ago amid a mixture of optimism and skepticism. Today it has become a recognizable feature of downtown Minot. Located on the east side of the north end of Main Street, Artspace stands tall.

“We love our Minot building,” said Jean Kramer-Johnson, Minneapolis, director of asset management for Artspace. “It’s currently home to 34 households, many of whom are artists who moved in when we opened. We do have some vacancies, but fewer than the area average.”

Artspace is the largest non-profit arts developer in the United States and oversees the operation of 52 Artspace buildings across the country. The commitment to Minot, said Kramer-Johnson, is “to keep the building affordable into perpetuity.”

Minot’s Artspace is an impressive structure comprised of apartments situated above business and retail space at street level. Artspace houses the office for the Minot Council of the Arts, the Children’s Music Academy, and the Suite 1 Gallery where artists display and sell their work.

“I truly believe it is a success story for the city,” said Terri Aldrich, Children’s Music Academy. “Artspace provides affordable housing for a lot of individuals and affordable retail space for arts organizations. All are wonderful resources for the community and important parts of what a vibrant downtown needs.”

Walter Piehl of Minot, a retired art professor from Minot State University and an accomplished artist, was also instrumental in the development of Artspace in Minot.

“Artspace is an amazing organization,” said Piehl. “They re-hab or build new to provide affordable living and work space for fine arts. That’s their primary purpose. Whether it be a poet, sculptor, artist or writer, art involvement is a plus factor in terms of being accepted into the building.”

Aldrich was an early supporter of the Artspace concept in Minot and has watched its development from the groundbreaking to the present day. One of the changes at Artspace was the loss of the “Heart of the Turtle” art gallery that opened shortly after Artspace became operational. It was a stand-alone venture that featured Native American art. It was eventually replaced by a cooperative effort of participating artists under a new name – Suite 1.

“The art work they sell, whatever their artistry, brings dollars and revenue into the community indirectly,” remarked Aldrich. “To see it up and running and artists doing well, each one of them a cottage industry, it has a tremendous impact. It’s not always quantified.”

Suite 1 is open to the public Thursday through Saturday. It features monthly themes represented by a variety of creative artists showcasing their chosen medium.

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