Art’s Indie Darlings

Minneapolis’ art scene offers more than just Spoonbridge Cherries and Mia’s rainbow pillars

By: Olivia Hultgren


Let’s face it, as far as artophiliacs go, you’ve done it all. You’ve basked in the glory of the Minneapolis Sculpture Gardens, posed in the foreground of the Walker’s “I am you, you are too” exhibit, browsed Mia’s vast collection of historical art. You even grace the occasional WAM study night. But Minneapolis isn’t done with you yet, my friend. 


Hidden between the contemporary facades of the Twin Cities’ largest art museums lie a multitude of indie art houses, each with their own flavors and perks. From blooming creative districts like Northeast Minneapolis to refurbished, centuries-old structures downtown, these independent art galleries and centers will give you a run for your money. Except the thing is, they’re actually free.  


Midway Contemporary Art

Opened in 2001 by local artists, this dual gallery and library aims to showcase new, diverse artists from outside of the Midwest. Housed in a dark, slate blue building near St. Anthony Main, Midway’s front doors unfurl into a naturally-lit visage of wooden bookshelves garnished with—wait for it—potted plants (because what else?). Besides being an Instagrammer’s dream, the library features a comprehensive collection of books about contemporary art, perfect for a casual browse of the history of monochrome. Beyond its extensive library, Midway utilizes wide open exhibition spaces and an exposed ceiling to its advantage, providing the perfect backdrop for myriad artists to showcase their work. Midway’s library and gallery spaces are open and free to the public, which means studying in an art museum just got more interesting.


All My Relations Gallery

Illustration by Morgan Wittmers-Graves

Illustration by Morgan Wittmers-Graves

It’s impossible to miss this gallery’s bright yellow, garage door-like exterior staring at you from the north side of East Franklin Avenue. Situated in the American Indian Cultural Corridor of Minneapolis, All My Relations Arts displays works from contemporary American Indian artists, hoping to increase visibility of indigenous cultural art in the broader community. Inside, All My Relations is a crisp, clean gallery space that encourages the marriage of tradition and innovation. Since the gallery opened in 2011, it has curated more than 25 exhibits showcasing Native American culture. Pow Wow Grounds, the coffee shop next door, hosts the gallery’s mini art wall, a series of bright colors and positive images created by local artists on submission.  


Soap Factory

Is it a shower nozzle? Grinding gears? Three dish scrubbers arranged in a triangle? We’ve all wandered past that gray, alien-esque sculpture just off 2nd Street in St. Anthony Main, and we’ve all wondered what in the world it could be. Turns out, it’s a disproportionate oil drill bit. The sculpture, titled “Alien Technology II,” is by Kuwaiti artist Monira Al Qadiri, and it’s part of the Soap Factory art gallery, housed in the 130-year-old brick warehouse behind the sculpture. Founded in 1988, Soap Factory has been showcasing experimental visual art for over 30 years. Its dusty brick and iron interior lend an industrial tone to each exhibit, and the gallery is even known to showcase art outside on its roof. If experimental art doesn’t float your boat, catching the Soap Factory at sunset provides the perfect opportunity for a rustic photo op. 


Solar Arts Building

This refurbished warehouse-turned-art-space doubles as a wedding venue, attracting customers left and right with its worn wood and cast-iron design. But what’s aesthetically pleasing can also be environmentally sustainable, as the owners proved when they renovated the 100-year-old warehouse using eco-friendly materials and slapped on a roof of 109 solar panels to power its interior. Given that dozens of artists that call the building’s studios home, Solar Arts hosts tons of creative events like its ongoing Winter Market and occasional open-gallery nights. Plus, Solar Arts also houses Indeed Brewing Company, a haven for all those artistic Northeast types. 

Wake Mag