CO Exhibitions' Joseph Belk talks art and Doomtree

The Twin Cities are so cool. It seems like every other day something inventive, innovative and inspiring pops up, and summer's fertile ground is the perfect catalyst for high levels of creative

activity. Enter CO Exhibitions. As the Dressing Room reported last week, this new Northeast gallery is about to enter our hemisphere -- and it's a doozy! A collaborative effort between the art rockstars at Burlesque of North America/First Amendment Gallery and curator/art instigator Joseph Belk of design collective Permanent, CO Exhibitions certainly has the street cred and the know-how to make big things happen -- and big things are already slated for this summer and beyond. With a kick off exhibition featuring the artwork of the Twin Cities most beloved hip hop crew, Doomtree, this first impression is definitely one that will make one hell of an impact. The Dressing Room had a nice chat with co-ringleader Joseph Belk, a man who has had his talented fingers in some of the coolest exhibits and installations in the cities over the past couple of years including Save Canvas, Sweet Hair, The Slow Mirror & The Metronome and more. This week, he talks Co gallery, Doomtree, and of course, the local art scene.

THE DRESSING ROOM: How did this new collaboration come about? Have you worked with the Burlesque crew before?

JOSEPH BELK: I have always admired what they do. Helping them with printing, events, etc. brought us together, and since then we've been good friends. I've helped Wes and Mike with events like Bomp, Liberty Parade, Don't Sleep On It and other cool things. Burlesque became familiar with me running around their shop years back getting t-shirts printed, and after a few events I helped put together like Radio Raheem, Sweet Hair, and Final Notice.

What are your plans and long term goals with the new space?

We want to go over the top and create the large scale exhibits that we couldn't have tried before without the new space and the readily available resources we have now. We're looking forward to working with local and national artists and letting them use the whole room as a blank canvas. The place is so big, and there are so many talented people working with us to support big projects, it should be really exciting to see what starts happening.

CO Exhibitions' Joseph Belk talks art and Doomtree
From the Slow Mirror & the Metronome installation. Photo by Drew Peterson.

Your first exhibit will feature art by Doomtree members! Who will be contributing to the show and what can people expect?

The whole group will be involved in one way or another. Expect to see posters, flyers, stage props, banners, and other Doomtree-related promotional artwork spanning the crew's history; paintings and drawings from several members of the group (oh you thought Cecil Otter just rapped?); giant video projections, and of course live musical performances from you know who. Basically, it will be walking into the crew's personal museum.

CO Exhibitions' Joseph Belk talks art and Doomtree
photo courtesy of

You've curated and helped organize some of the coolest and most unique art shows in Minneapolis over the past couple years. What inspired you to get into the local art scene, and how do you think the Twin Cities compares to other cities art-wise?

The people around me have fueled everything I do; my friends and new people I meet. We have such a rich art scene here that I find inspiration pretty much everywhere. But it's not just the artists, Minneapolis itself seems to be energized by new work and new ideas. What I want to do is use the enthusiasm we have here and create the ambitious shows that the city deserves. I like the development phase of shows, the process of creating them -- when I can take that original idea and expand it outward. I think taking that first idea and causing it to stretch out past its comfort level, that's when you start getting interesting things to take place. With CO we all want to expand.

CO Exhibitions' Joseph Belk talks art and Doomtree
From Save Canvas installation. Photo courtesy of Joseph Belk.

What do you think are some of the most exciting things happening in the local art scene this year (aside from the new Co gallery of course!)?

It's hard to say. Places like SOOVAC, Pink Hobo and XYandZ always have really interesting shows. Also, Soap Factory always seems to have something up worth checking out. Art of This is great. I'll be excited to watch Tarnish and Gold grow this year. As for specific shows alot of great stuff has already happened. Jennifer Davis's paintings at First Amendment were awesome to see, Drew Peterson's show at XYandZ had some big and impressive things going on. And I always try to stay on top of what the MIA and Walker are doing (WACTAC).

CO Exhibitions' inaugural show featuring the art of Doomtree will happen on June 26th at the new gallery at 1101 Stinson Blvd in Northeast Minneapolis (above the former 1st Amendment Gallery). Keep your eye on the Dressing Room for more details about the opening reception.

For more info on CO Exhibitions click HERE

Follow CO Exhibitions on Twitter HERE

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