SooVAC and Soo Local have some crazy shit going on

by Math.i 
by Math.i 
Courtesy SooVAC

Imagine this: A storefront turned art gallery at 35th and Nicollet packed to the brim with scenesters, hippies, and a sprinkling of gutterpunks on Easter Sunday. They are rapt as performance artist Jaime Carrera, dressed in a loin cloth, castrates Jason Wade's dreadlocked Jesus and nails his phallus to the cross. Wade then squirts various condiments in Carrera's face for a good 10 minutes.

The Easter performance worked as a kind belated Christening to the new outlet of Soo Visual Art Center (SooVAC), called Soo Local. 

Cheesus (Pictured: Jason Wade)
Cheesus (Pictured: Jason Wade)
Photo By Jaime Carrera

According to Executive Director Carolyn Payne, SooVAC has permission to use the space from Kim Bartmann, co-owner of Pat's Tap next door. As long as they pay for utilities, they have free run of the space to host crazy shit like the event described above, as well as more wholesome collaborations, like the one with Wing Young Huie, Free Arts Minnesota, and the MIA in which student photographic work was exhibited, or the Holiday Pop-Up show they curated when they first opened in November. 

"It's a sweet deal for us," says Payne. "That neighborhood was missing art since Art of This left." The storefront, in fact, is in the same space as Art of This, a nonprofit arts gallery that closed in 2010. "We're looking at it as a collaborative space," she says. 

Most recently, Artists in Storefronts had an exhibition, which closed this weekend. Coming up, the space is going to be exhibiting work by students at MCAD, and will host Paper Darts events this summer. 

The space has been wildly popular. "The traffic is huge," Payne says. "It has a similar feeling to SooVAC because it's a storefront on a busy street. We get tons of walk-up traffic." Meanwhile, Pat's Tap also uses the space for events such as Farm to Table in May and private parties. 

by Haze XXL
by Haze XXL

Of course, it's an adjustment for SooVAC. A small nonprofit, they are providing programming for the second space without extra staff members. The board is currently evaluating how the process is going. Payne says they're looking at some new funding options, as well as the possibility of bringing in interns to help with staffing needs. At the same time, she says it's great because, unlike the main gallery which plans out its programming 6 to 12 months in advance, SOO Local is a little bit more flexible, which allows for some cool innovative stuff to take place. 

Meanwhile, over at the main space, SooVAC is currently exhibiting "Visceral Dysentery: Deep Retardant Cuts Craft Dogma," featuring linocuts by Haze XXL  (Tom Hazelmyer, of the famed Amphetamine Reptile Records and co-owner of Grumpy's) and digital collages and album covers by Math.i. It's an intense show, both by the sheer number of small pieces on display, as well as the jarring nature of the work. 

By math.i 
By math.i 
Haze XXL is the tamer of the two artists, utilizing a palette of red and black to create an almost communist propaganda feeling to his punk-rock aesthetic. The work of the other artist, Math.i, is hard to describe. Perverted? Certainly. Disturbing? Misogynistic? A bit racist? Visionary? Maybe, but you might be too pissed off or disgusted before you could make a judgement. Math.i's work definitely exists in the outsider art realm, with a dense dream world of dark fantasies inhabiting his digital collages. It's a mish-mash of body parts, babies, nostalgia, circus freaks, and demons, with a bit of Mad Magazine thrown in. 

The show certainly isn't for everyone, but it might appeal to those drawn to the macabre. It runs through April 26. 

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3506 Nicollet Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55408

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