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SooLocal goes from pop-up shop to permanent gallery

Last year, the Soo Visual Arts Center opened a temporary pop-up shop in a vacant storefront space in Minneapolis’s Lyndale neighborhood, as a sort of experiment.

The place, which it calls Soo Local, has turned out to be so successful that the gallery has decided to stick with it in the long term, according to Carolyn Payne, who heads the gallery.

Kim Bartmann, who owns the nearby Pat's Tap and other local restaurants, rents the space to the gallery, Payne says.

When it became available, Soo Visual Arts jumped at it. Despite a strong arts community in the area, “There aren’t a lot of visual art spaces that highlight locals,” she says.

Already, Soo Local has helped the gallery to broaden its reach, and work with a larger, more diverse pool of artists. The place has featured 200 artists since November of 2012. “It’s amazing, that’s sometimes what we show in one year at Soo Visual Arts,” says Payne.

She characterizes the place as a “more spontaneous, experimental space. We can do things quicker that don’t fit into the exhibition schedule.”

The second location gives the gallery the chance to partner with other local groups, something it often didn’t have the space or time to do in the past. SooLocal is “a way for us to do even more programming within the community.”

It’s also a venue for exploring new ideas from artists, often those who don’t have gallery experience, she says. In those cases, SooLocal is able to help people with everything from installing a professional-level show to writing press releases.
She’s been pleasantly surprised by the enthusiasm for SooLocal. In April, the place was so full for a  performance by artist Jaime Carrera that she had to turn people away from the doors, she says.  

“Tons of people walk in. It has a neighborhood vibe, with lots of families, artists, and non-artists coming in,” she says. “It’s been really fun and we’ve met a lot of people.”
Now, she’s hoping that SooLocal can secure more funding for regular hours, upgrades to the space, and an internship program.

Source: Carolyn Payne, SooLocal
Writer: Anna Pratt
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