Domesticity Allows for Autonomy

Regional art inhabits alternative gallery space

In the early Autumn evening, I found myself at the opening of The Flat Earth Society exhibition. A quaint cream home decorated with with cherry shutters, symmetrically placed hydrangeas, and a small butterfly decal beside the front door welcomed me inside. An unpretentious space, the TuckUnder Projects appeared to me at first at first to me appeared to be nothing more than a standard south Minneapolis house; however, upon entering, a surge of art exhibits indicated that this home embraced much more than just dinner parties and play-dates.

Illustrator: Taylor Daniels

Illustrator: Taylor Daniels

The TuckUnder projects is as a DIY gallery for artists and audiences drawn to observation in a domestic setting. Launched five years ago, homeowner and prominent Minneapolis art community member Peter Driessen opened this space as an alternative gallery.

“I started this in the face of startup culture,” Driessen said. “ I have complete autonomy and total control.  I wanted to get my own work shown, and wanted to retain my own power in the world of art.”

The gallery showcases mainly regional artists, but have artists soliciting from outside Minnesota. The domestic nature of the space allowed for an accepting and supportive audience, which was evident while navigating the warm home, jubilant with laughter ringing in each room-exhibit.

Every exhibit occupied a different sector of the home, remaining independently expressive. A pilgrimage through the brightly illuminated garage allowed me to observe the main gallery which showcased paintings by Justin Quinn. The exhibit, formally referred to as The Flat Earth Society, displayed layers of even lines and moody colors, contrasting with the white-walled, fluorescent setting of the garage. Shadows illuminated the space, and supported minor chit-chat.

Migration into a homey, green-hued living space was accompanied by my introduction to some regulars of the gallery, along with welcoming conversation. I snagged a slice of warm baguette dipped in olive oil. Following a particularly sociable patron to the bar, I noticed the nostalgic wood-paneled walls. Sides of the room were lined with postcards and small prints for sale, supporting the strong sense of community pulsing through the room.

An abstract bathroom was my next stop. The Leaky Sink gallery of in the bathroom was of the exhibition Just in Moment, featuring painting installations by Timothy Granlund. Art occupied each and every inch of this atypical artistic space – in the shower and even lining the wall next to the toilet.

As Driessen lives in the TuckUnder gallery with his two children, this unconventional gallery is a nuisance during the warm half of the year the projects are open. “They [the children] love it, but sometimes they have a hard time because they want to use the shower, the lower bathroom shower because it has a better shower head,” joked Driessen.

A candle-lit patio presented a long-term durational piece about outsourcing by Meena Mangalvedhekar of India, and further movement along the sloped driveway allowed me to inspect a raspberry patch lined with fairy lights.

In my pursuit down the driveway, a conversation with Driessen indicated that there was one last element of the TuckUnder Projects that I had missed. Shifting my attention toward a mid-sized unattached garage area, Driessen left me with the sentiment that he was to go speak with other patrons, but that I should consider checking out artist Chance Greaves’ work, which permeated in the last space.

I ventured into the exhibit––feeling my way in lieu of directional lighting. The juxtaposition was immediate. The wavering display of primary colors against the wall let me notice Greaves, draped in agriculturally inspired attire. The singular presence of this dark exhibit was shocking in contrast to the exuberant, warm energy of the home.

Upon inspection, two different images alternated against the wall: one of a fly with the text “coexist” and another of an image of a cloth flower, and an alternation of two words: immolation and emulation.

“It’s interesting to project things that sort of cancel each other out,” Greaves said.

Upon inquisitively acknowledging his work, Greaves offered up his solo gallery’s meaning in a hushed, monotonous murmur.

“When I found this flower, I was struck by it, initially because I thought it was real. In this case I thought the text went well with my feelings about this doppelgänger flower being similar to something that was essentially trash, but that I thought was beautiful.”

“That fly summed everything up for me. You think about a lot of these problems and the way they’re addressed or solved. The knee-jerk reaction is to just slap something or kill it immediately, and the word “coexist” comes from seeing those bumper stickers all the time, and if it was only so simple, you know? And it really probably is.”

As our conversation progressed, an assemblage of creatives began gathering in a haphazard semicircle as to not disturb the faltering projection. Conversation, while unifying, indicated a sense of discomfort within each patron. This discomfort was rooted in acceptance, or the lack thereof, within the Minneapolis arts community.

“It’s a part of being in Minnesota, I think that everything is low-key, but that gets misconstrued as being exclusive,” artist Justin Quinn said, in effort to explain the disconnect.

In the darkness of Greaves’ work, we as artists of all sorts, as Minneapolis residents, and as humans were able to relate in a way that was not permitted in the fuzzy home environment. While the TuckUnder gallery was one of the most welcoming I had ever been to within the Minneapolis arts community, I was connected to the other audience members in that we felt a lack of connection.

This ironic conversation remained consistent with the context of my new artistically inclined, Minneapolis-based endeavor. As a searching female with roots in Chicago, I will be attempting to document this friendly yet elusive city, which is robust with culture, expression, and sustainable lifestyles.