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Top 10 galleries in the Twin Cities

All My Relations Gallery
All My Relations Gallery
Photo by Sheila Regan

It's no secret that the Twin Cities has a thriving gallery scene. So with much consideration, we  narrowed down our top picks to 10 great spaces. The wide variety of artwork showcased at these locations demonstrates the incredible diversity of arts available here.

Purple Grape Oreo Shirt by Dietrich Sieling, at Bockley Gallery
Purple Grape Oreo Shirt by Dietrich Sieling, at Bockley Gallery

Bockley Gallery
(2123 W. 21st St., Minneapolis; 612.377.4669; www.bockleygallery.com)

Bockley Gallery, couched in a somewhat residential area of the Kenwood neighborhood, on the same block as Louise Erdrich's Birchbark Books and Native Arts, may be a bit hidden. However, it's a destination you should make a point to visit. Owner Todd Bockley represents some of the most inventive and imaginative artists in the Twin Cities, and the gallery's frequently changing schedule allows for plenty of reasons to make the location a regular place to stop. Native artists, artists who draw from folk traditions, and artists who just see the world a little bit differently feature prominently among the gallery's roster, and their work just might help you see the world a bit differently, too. 
See also:
The odd worlds of "The Edge of Camp" at Bockley Gallery

Whimsy, wolves, and masks: Julie Buffalohead at Bockley Gallery
 

Top 10 galleries in the Twin Cities
Andy DuCett, "Why We Do This." at Soap Factory

The Soap Factory
(514 Second St. SE, Minneapolis; 612.623.9176; www.soapfactory.org)

The Soap Factory is great, not in spite of its grungy interior, but because of it. The building dates back to 1882, when it was erected by the Union Pacific Railways Storage Company. It went on to be used for industrial purposes over the years, before turning into an art gallery in the 1980s. The history of the space serves as a backdrop to all of its exhibitions, be it the annual Haunted Basement; group shows like the recent "R.U.R.," which explored the concept of robots as metaphors for industrialization, work, and identity; solo shows like the wonderful Andy DuCett exhibition; and other programming, including the 10 Second Film Festival, literary readings, performance art, and more. The Soap has a special affinity for artists who push the connection between technology and art, and its enormous space allows for some spectacular installations.

See also:
The Soap Factory explores robots as metaphor

Top 10 galleries in the Twin Cities

Soo Visual Arts Center (SooVAC)
(2638 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.871.2263; www.soovac.org)

Soo Visual Arts Center (SooVAC) has a neighborhood feel, complete with two Little Free Libraries out front where you can take or leave any books as you like. Open five days a week, it's one of the most accessible galleries in town, as you can just walk in during open hours and check out what's going on. The space even offers printed maps for each show to help you navigate the work. SooVAC features a variety of (mostly) local artists, and cultivates tomorrow's talent by regularly showcasing promising work from folks coming out of MCAD. Founded by the late Suzy Greenberg, who died in 2012, the gallery has been open since 2001, and continues to thrive as a community-oriented space free of elitism. 
See also:
"Fluctuating Capacity" travels through time at SooVAC
SooVAC pays tribute to founder Suzy Greenberg


Midway Contemporary Art
(527 Second Ave. SE, Minneapolis; 612.605.4504; www.midwayart.org)

You may not "get" everything that makes its way to Midway. The types of artists shown at this southeast Minneapolis gallery tend to be very conceptual, experimenting with what is even considered art. But don't worry too much if you kind of scratch your head and go "Huh?" upon viewing the artwork here. It's all part of the experience: to challenge yourself to look at art in a different way than you have before. In fact, probably the best initiation into the gallery is to attend one of the artist talks, where a good-sized crowd usually shows up to delve a bit deeper into what the work is all about. Or, stop by on one of the openings, which are always a good party. 
See also:
'Location Volumes 5 and 6' expores the idea of books as an art gallery

Top 10 galleries in the Twin Cities
Francis Yellow working at All My Relations Gallery

All My Relations Gallery
(1414 E. Franklin Ave., Minneapolis; 612.872.4700; www.nacdi.org)

The bright yellow storefront of All My Relations Gallery offers a cheery addition to Franklin Avenue along the recently named "American Indian Cultural Corridor." Housed by its parent organization, the Native American Community Development Institute, the gallery features an ambitious rotating lineup of locally and nationally known Native artists, including such fine talent as Jim Denomie, Tom Jones, and Carolyn Lee Anderson. Arts project manager Dyani Reynolds-White Hawk has proved to have a keen eye in her curatorial decisions for the gallery, and the result is a rich and varied season of exhibitions that delight, inspire, and, more often than not, make you think. 
See also:
Tom Jones explores 'Identity, Appropriation and Reclamation' at All My Relations Gallery

 

Top 10 galleries in the Twin Cities
Kolman & Pryor artist Kate Casanova's delightful Mushroom Chair

Kolman & Pryor Gallery
(Northrup King Building, 1500 NE Jackson St., Minneapolis; 612.385.4239; www.kolmanpryorgallery.com)

Is it enough of a reason to love a gallery just because you love one of the artists it represents? If so, then Kolman & Pryor (formerly Anita Sue Kolman Gallery) earns a place on this list for a number of reasons, but especially because Kate Casanova is the bees knees. The young, up-and-coming artist (City Pages 2012 Artist of the Year), whose visceral work draws as much from science as it does from the subconscious, is a regular at the gallery, along with a group of other really great talents, including the meticulous and inventive Karl Unnasch, and Patrick Kemal Pryor, who recently became a partner at the gallery. 
See also:
"Juicy Steak Moustache 2": Patrick Kemal Pryor enters partnership role at Kolman & Pryor with group show

Obsidian Arts
(2948 Chicago Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.787.3644; www.obsidianarts.org)

Is it a gallery or a community center? Obsidian Arts, housed at Pillsbury House + Theatre (PHT), is a little of both. The arts organization supports artists, curators, and art historians who examine black visual culture, and has hosted a number of gorgeous and engaging exhibitions recently. The gallery is one of the most accessible arts spaces in town as it's found in the PHT lobby, a lively center of activity for the neighborhood with several arts and service organizations residing in the building. Obsidian is more than just a gallery, though, as it has initiated various programming including traveling performance groups, hosting a black art history library, and more. However, its gallery exhibitions are noteworthy in their own right, featuring both local and international artists from African and African American communities. 
See also:
Obsidian Arts' 'African M+Pulse' exhibits at Pillsbury House

Third Place Gallery
(3730 Chicago Ave. S. Minneapolis; www.wingyounghuie.com)

How can you go wrong with ping pong? Third Place Gallery, owned by award-winning photographer Wing Young Huie, is a social meeting space that fosters community not only in its surrounding neighborhood, but in the Twin Cities at large. Past events have included live knitting, music concerts, film screenings, and multimedia performances. At each reception, Third Place keeps it real by offering fun activities like karaoke, ping pong, and darts while encouraging people to meet new folks in the cities. The gallery supports its events by charging a modest door price (generally $5 or a suggested donation), which helps pay for snacks and gives the artists a stipend, and is a great way to support a diverse array of artists who come from different backgrounds.

See also:
Wing Young Huie, Selma Fernandez exhibit at Third Place Gallery

Yes!Lets Collective presents sensory isolating show at Third Place Gallery

Top 10 galleries in the Twin Cities

Franklin Art Works
(1021 E. Franklin Ave., Minneapolis; 612.872.7494; www.franklinartworks.org)

The Franklin Art Works space opened in 1916 as a movie theater. Over the years, it went through several owners, and eventually became a porno house in the 1970s. The building still has a majestic facade, with arched stained-glass windows and a beautiful brick exterior. As for the art inside, the gallery features great diversity in the artists it presents, showcasing many out-of-town artists working in a variety of media. There's always something new and different to see. 

Shoebox Gallery
(2948 Chicago Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.825.3833)

You might miss Shoebox Gallery if you're not looking for it. The Twin Cities' smallest gallery is located in a storefront window next to Robert's Shoes on Chicago Avenue and Lake Street (although opening events and screenings occur in the studio space upstairs).  There's something very appealing about the little gallery, which has featured artists such as Frank Gaard, Daniel Kaniess, and Katelyn Farstad, to name a few. Because it faces a busy street, hundreds of people walk by it each day. No doubt some will miss it entirely, but for those who stop and experience it, the storefront gallery playfully manages to infiltrate the outside world. 
See also:
Mary Jane Mansfield talks about 'Dream'
Emily Lloyd discusses '6 Words Minneapolis'


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