January 29, 2010

Marketing Minnesota's Native artists

Minnesota's Native art is an underused resource

By Marcie Rendon, Ann Markusen[M]ost museums and galleries do not exhibit or buy Native work, and most performance spaces do not host Native musicians or actors.

There are exceptions: Two Rivers, Ancient Traders and Todd Bockley's galleries in the Cities. Fargo's Plains Museum, the University of Minnesota Duluth's Tweed, and the Weisman on the Twin Cities campus of the University. Patrick's Cabaret for performance. Bemidji State, Leech Lake Tribal College, and University of Wisconsin Superior for annual art shows.

Most tribal-managed spaces, like casinos, gifts shops and hotels, do a poor job at commissioning and presenting work by their resident artists. But here too there are pioneers. The Mille Lacs Band has commissioned work by Steve Premo for its casino walls and hosted a competition among Native artists for hotel room paintings.

The Fond du Lac human services complex hangs contemporary Native artwork in every room, purchased with a dedicated share of its building fund, because, as its director states, "art is essential to healing." The Mahnomen Shooting Star Casino's gift shop displays Native artists' one-of-a-kind work prominently (and makes more money than others in the state). Grand Portage and Fond du Lac casinos occasionally host Native performers.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Casinos Promote Culture.

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