We are all woven together!

The Chair

Posted July 16, 2020 @ 2:01pm | by Melanie

It hasn’t been easy saying ‘Hasta Luego’ to my beloved Northrup King arts studio of sixteen years. The vibrant Northrup King Building is a cornerstone of the NE Minneapolis Arts district, it anchors the creative community. The building has organically grown to be what is is today due to the hard work of the previous owners who were dedicated to growing the art space, and to the credit of the artistic talent it attracted. 

A great example of NKB’s art outreach is my ‘Katrina’ chair. In 2005 when Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, our building owner Debbie Woodward, sent a semi truck & trailer to Bay St. Louis, to rescue art. The eye of the storm didn't hit New Orleans, It struck Bay St. Louis, Miss., a small, proudly roguish old riverboat and resort town along the Gulf Coast, killing 12 people. The town attracted and supported many artists.

I may not have the exact details in order, but I recall within a few short weeks Debbie had the semi en route to the Gulf Coast. from Mpls. She put out the offer to the local Bay St. Louis arts council that she could help by housing their art in the spacious 3rd floor galley at NKB, and help find buyers for their work!  Along with their rescued art, many of the artists came too. 

I bought the ‘Katrina’ chair at a fundraiser auction, a lively event that Debbie hosted for the artists. The chair was made from a felled tree from the storm. I unfortunately don’t recall the woodworkers name.

In 2015, I made a trip to New Orleans & Bay St. Louis, with my sister Pam. I tagged along on her Social Studies conference. The focus of the conference ’Retracing Slavery’s Trail of Tears’ Americas forgotten migration-the journey of a million African-Americans from the tobacco South to the cotton South, to be auctioned off in New Orleans. (If you need more info about this, please inform yourself at https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/slavery-trail-of-tears-180956968/

We had planned a side trip for a few days afterwards, to Baytown St. Louis to see what became of the arts community ten years later. I hoped to even find the maker of the chair. Sadly there wasn’t an obvious art scene. It of course makes me plenty worried about what our arts community will look like ten years after Covid…

For fifteen years that chair sat at my spacious studio entrance. It is kind of odd and wobbly and not super comfortable looking, but people sat on it all the time. And no matter if I was in the middle of selling a rug..I would practically run over to the other end of the room to tell the person sitting on the Katrina Chair, the story of how the Northrup King Building extended a warm embrace to our Brothers and Sisters in Baytown, St. Louis.

The Katrina Chair has hosted many incredibly great and kind people. We’ve had dozens of fundraisers in the space, worthy events that need to continue.  I am using the Katrina Chair to help propel ArtAndes forward. Someday it will have a new large space again for pop-ups, fundraisers and community gatherings.  I can’t wait for you to come sit on it!

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