By Coco Mault
“First and foremost we are a professional arts organization,” says Daniel Palnau, an arts instructor at Interact Center in downtown Minneapolis. This isn’t typically a point that needs clarifying when visiting an art gallery, but it’s an important detail to remember when visiting this particular space.
Interact has much to offer when it comes to the arts. There are a few art galleries in this area of Minneapolis, but none display such an array of unique artwork as often as Interact. Not only does Interact include a theater and a gift shop full of in-house produced goods, but there is a visual arts gallery as well.
Interact mounts four major public exhibitions per year, and one recent show, entitled Idols & Icons, included many pieces by about a dozen artists, each with his or her own distinct style. But even the most abstract pieces were recognizable, which is a comment on our collective ideas of who we consider to be members of such elite distinction.
Every day Interact artists arrive for a day of creating pieces for various projects that the center is involved with, but the artists are also building their own portfolios of paintings, ink works, drawings, sculpture, textile work and other media. Since Interact began in 1996, it has grown from a studio of five artists to over 75 artists ranging in age from 22 to 94, sharing space in the downtown studio.
The studio where the artists work is a spacious one, and quite active. Not only is there activity among the artists and art directors, but even the walls themselves seem to move. Every surface is swirled with painted murals, dotted with magazine pages to spur inspiration, and papier-mâché masks and sculptures hang from the ceiling in various states of creation. There is so much to look at, in fact, that the fish tank and resident fish may go unnoticed to newcomers. The gallery, with its whitewashed walls, is located just upstairs from the studio, and is a striking contrast from the total immersion of color downstairs.
The artists at Interact “span the spectrum from PhD university professors sustaining their creativity in the aftermath of strokes, to talented young adults from high school transition programs who are looking to make their own mark in the arts, to artists who have sustained brain injury, artists on the autism spectrum, artists with Down syndrome, and every label in between.” Many people with disabilities have artistic abilities that go unrecognized or are ignored. Interact acknowledges this unfortunate reality, which is why their driving mission is to constantly challenge those perceptions.
As a result, though Interact is a local company, its reach is far. According to their website, Interact artist’s work has been shown in galleries in Chicago, New York, and Boston, and has been included in many outsider and visionary arts collections.
Visit InteractGallery daily from 10 am to 4 pm, or by appointment. All artists are paid commissions comparable to standards of other mid-sized arts organizations on the sale of their artwork. Sale proceeds also go toward purchasing studio supplies.
Colonial Warehouse Building
212 Third Avenue North, Suite 140
Minneapolis, MN 55401