Guest writer Wahida Omar gets an exclusive look at the past, present, and future of Gamut Gallery

“There are so many indicators that tell me Gamut Gallery should continue,” Jade Patrick, Gallery Director, says. “That’s how my gut and heart read the situation. That said, we want people to be with us in the reality of where we are. Things are up in the air and a lot is uncertain right now. We really hope that this isn’t our last show, but there’s a chance that it could be.”


Minimum Wage—Rogue Citizen at Gamut Gallery (3/6/2014)

I’ve joined Jade and Gallery Manager Cassie Garner for the tail end of their weekly meeting. We soon realize that today, June 9th, happens to be Gamut Gallery’s third anniversary.

“How serendipitous,” Cassie says, her voice characteristically warm and just slightly raspy. “Maybe that’s a good sign.”

It’s one of the first truly hot days of summer, and we sit on the porch of the Patrick home in South Minneapolis, ice cream bars from the corner store melting on their sticks. We watch Jade’s three-year-old twin sons bound back and forth through the sprinkler on the lawn, their bright red hair wet and glinting in the sun.


Chido // Serene Supreme x Ramses Alarcon (8/18/2014)

Jade tucks an asymmetrical length of periwinkle blue hair behind one ear. “The gentrification of the Handicraft Guild has provided the impetus for us to say—Okay. We need to really look at our business model and change if we want long-term sustainability. We are really hoping to be able to expand Gamut Gallery in some meaningful ways. But right now we can’t really say what the future holds.”

THE CLOSURE

“There are some developers that are looking to convert the Handicraft Guild into condos,” Jade says. “About a year ago there started to be a lot of tours, a lot of inspections, a lot of folks in suits coming to look through the building. A few months ago, we heard from the management that it looked like this deal was going to go through. And then a few weeks ago, we got the paperwork. It’s really setting in now.”


Minimum Wage—Rogue Citizen at Gamut Gallery (3/6/2014)

“On February 20th an article came out in the business journals,” Cassie adds. “That’s how this deal really came onto our radar. A week later I went to the city planning meeting, and that’s how I learned what sections of the building would be preserved and which wouldn’t.”

Cassie looks away, emotion showing in her dark eyes. “They’re only preserving the north-facing section of the building, the section on 10th Street that houses Devil’s Advocate, the restaurant. The section on Marquette that Gamut is in, and Josi Severson’s store, and OOTN—none of that is under historical protection, so the developer’s plans are to demolish it all and start from scratch.”

“Right,” Jade says. “The wing that Gamut is on was added a couple of years after the original section of the building. When the [Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission] came in and deemed it historical, they only had the grounds to protect the original section. So when the developers come in and build, they’re going to have to work around that section. They’ll preserve it in the sense that the protected portion will stay there because they have to let it stay there. But they’re not preserving the actual integrity of why the building was built in the first place.”


Chido // Serene Supreme x Ramses Alarcon (8/18/2014)

Jade’s sons are on the porch with us now, and she briefly holds the hand of one of the boys before he ambles past her. “The building was founded by the Handicraft Guild, which was a leader in the Arts and Crafts movement in the early 1900s. The founders of the building would no doubt be ecstatic to see an organization like Gamut Gallery operating there and would want it to continue. Even still, I’ve always had a sense of gratitude for what we’ve had. I always thought, hey. We’re a start-up art gallery. We’re across from the Hilton. We are so lucky just to be here at all.”

“It’s true,” Cassie says. “I’ve gone through waves of emotion with it. I’ve always known it wasn’t permanent, but I was really frustrated that this was happening for another condo to be built downtown. We don’t need any more condos. They’re building all these spaces for people to inhabit downtown, but nobody actually experiences downtown. That’s what Gamut has been. A reason for people to go downtown and really experience our city.”

Cassie reaches for her glass of iced tea. “I’ve gone through the process of grieving. I was angry, and then I was really sad. And now I’ve reached a place of acceptance.”

Past, Present, and Future

Gamut Gallery is one of three entities operating out of 1006 Marquette Avenue—Gamut Gallery; electronic music training institute Slam Academy; and the private studio of Jade’s husband, electronic artist James Patrick.


Northern Spark Festival 2012: Gamut Gallery/Slam Academy Grand Opening (6/9/2012)

Jade explains that Gamut will be the first to leave. “So that we can focus our efforts on planning for the future,” she says. “Slam Academy and the studio of James Patrick, Artist will maintain their space through the end of September.”


CoLab Art Night (3/19/2015)

“Six years ago when we first got a space in this building, we knew that there was a sense of impermanence. There had been a serious bid for the building ten years earlier, where tenants were told to evacuate, and somebody was going to come in and develop. That deal fell through, and that’s how we were able to afford to be downtown. We moved into a space that the current owners weren’t really doing anything to maintain.”


Gamut Gallery’s First Anniversary (6/15/2013)

“The reason Gamut came into being was an awareness that we were a part of a community of talented artists. I remember going to dance parties, and meeting people, and saying—‘Oh wow, you paint too, oh and you’re a photographer, let’s make art together sometime.’ That’s what made us start CoLab as a community art-making night. We did that in the basement space every Thursday for a solid two years before the upstairs store-front became available, and JP [James Patrick] said, ‘Why don’t we start an art gallery?'”

From left: Jade Patrick, Mark Dean, Cassie Garner, James Patrick, Juleana Enright, and Kurtis “Kujo” Johnson at the Middle Class Aspirations exhibit opening (6/11/2015)

“Gamut Gallery was started by a group of friends,” Jade continues. “Everything nice in the physical 1006 Marquette Avenue space was done by the hands of Kurtis ‘Kujo’ Johnson, our gravity-defying handyman, art-installer, and jack-of-all-trades. And by the rest of us, the rest of the Gamut team: James Patrick, Tierney Houdek, Wendy Thomas, Mark Dean, Juleana Enright, Hannah Howard, Dan Frame, Bobby Kahn, Jennifer Hunt, Sarah Knapp and so many others. We’ve busted our butts down in that basement, in the whole space, and with the entire project of Gamut Gallery.”

“It’s always been a team effort. That fits with our view on community and what we’re really here for. This whole time, it’s never been to make money. We’re grateful to have reached a point, up until the coming changes, where the project self-sustains. But nobody’s really getting paid. We’re definitely doing this as a labor of love.”

“And to support local artists,” Cassie adds. “Always to support local artists.”

“Yes,” Jade says. “I could book exhibits for the next five years. I don’t necessary have enough people to come and buy their artwork, but the talented artists are there. Entering the gallery world a few years ago as a total newbie, I learned that the Twin Cities has a really strong nonprofit arts sector, and a strong community of arts supporters. But those supporters are used to making their contributions to the arts by making charitable contributions to nonprofits. Rather than through direct sales, rather than from buying from artists themselves.”

“Gamut wants to work on fostering a collector culture here. We want to celebrate each purchase. We want to encourage people to get excited about buying a piece of art, allow people to feel that sense of joy.”


CoLab Art Night (3/19/2015)

Gamut Artists

“We’re really strategic about who we choose,” Cassie says. “We don’t just choose people who are creating art, but artists who are very focused, very dedicated to their art form, really driven to build a customer base, who are working hard to get their names out there.”

Kate Renee is just one artist who we feel a lot of pride about. She was in Colors: Gamut’s first call for works, and then she had Imaginarium, and Beauties Behaving Badly. Kate Renee has that drive, and it’s so deep in her, and it’s so visible.”

Opening for Kate Renee’s Beauties Behaving Badly exhibit (1/18/2014)


Beauties Behaving Badly Immersive Theater Exhibit Finale (2/22/2014)

“We really embrace our name,” Jade says. “We show a wide array of media, content, and style. That’s in our mission statement, and you can see it in our shows. We go drastically from one concept to another, and with each idea we want to push it as far as we can. Quality is the equalizer, and a sense of innovation. I love to show people who are taking chances and doing things that we’re not seeing in other places.”

“Gamut Gallery is more than just an art gallery, as compared to your typical commercial gallery,” Jade continues. “We’ve taken on this idea of social space and experience, the art of the happening. When we have openings, we want to celebrate the work of our artists. Performance, movement, music in response to or in conversation with the work on our walls—that’s a critical ingredient of what we do at Gamut. We’ve had artist talks with Robyne Robinson, Drew Peterson, Joan Vorderbruggen, Tricia Khutoretsky, Nathaniel Smith, Jesse Draxler, Ash Marlene Hane, Angela Sprunger and more. We’ve had shows like Minimum Wage, If These Walls Could Talk, Chido, the list goes on.”


Post Mo’ Bills Exhibit Finale (7/26/2014)


Post Mo’ Bills Exhibit Finale (7/26/2014)

“We’ve worked so far with two artists who were recipients of the Minnesota State Artist’s Initiative Grant, and—if we are able to find a new space—our next exhibit will feature a third.”

“Likewise, with the street artists responsible for Middle Class Aspirations, our current show. In my humble opinion, Wundr and Biafra Inc. are currently the city’s best and most prolific graffiti artists. And photographer Urban Camper has been right there with them.”

Middle Class Aspirations

“Middle Class Aspirations makes a lot of sense for us as a final exhibit in this space,” Jade says. “Everybody behind Gamut Gallery is a quote-unquote ‘regular person.’ We’re not trust-fund inheritants, we’re not born and bred into art school. We’re definitely not disadvantaged, either. We realize we have a lot going for us. But we really have a by-the-people, for-the-people outlook. That’s part of our character and the character of the space.”

Photo from Middle Class Aspirations - Courtesy Gamut Gallery

Middle Class Aspirations Opening(6/11/2015)

“We are the middle class,” Cassie says. “Middle Class Aspirations really fits who we are.”

Photo from Middle Class Aspirations - Courtesy Gamut Gallery
Middle Class Aspirations Opening(6/11/2015)

Jade nods. “If we’re able to go on and expand, I can tell you for sure that we will not be following the path of the typical commercial art gallery, who, frankly, has to cater to and chase around millionaires to get them to buy ten, twenty, thirty thousand dollar pieces to be able to sustain their business. We want to go in the opposite direction. We want to be accessible to anyone. We want to have artwork that people can afford, and to have other ways that people can show their support for us, too.”

We’ve been talking for a couple of hours now, though Jade and Cassie and I had originally thought to chat for an hour at most. The twins are ready for their nap, and we grownups are ready to get out of the heat. I ask Jade and Cassie if they have any last words to impart.

“We are just so grateful,” Jade says. “I want to express our sincere gratitude to the Twin Cities arts and culture community, including the press, and all the ways that everyone has supported us. We have these great artists and their amazing artwork, and we can put it up on the wall. But if nobody comes to see it, it doesn’t work.”

Photo from Middle Class Aspirations - Courtesy Gamut Gallery
Middle Class Aspirations Opening(6/11/2015)

“On opening night when people come and get excited about what they’re seeing, and go home to tell their friends, there’s this ripple effect,” Cassie says. “It’s just the best feeling.”

Middle Class Aspirations is the last exhibit for Gamut Gallery in the 1006 Marquette Avenue space. The exhibit finale will take place on Thursday, June 25th from 6pm to 10pm. Friends and staff of Gamut will speak about the gallery and toast to the good times. Carnage the Executioner will close out the night with his signature vocal stylings.

“We’ll have a goodbye-for-now party, one last hurrah, probably near the end of July,” Jade says. “Stay tuned!”

Wahida Omar

All images provided courtesy of Gamut Gallery -used with permission.

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