MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Twin Cities is celebrating the grand opening of a co-working space for Black artists this week.

The Black Table Arts Cooperative sits at the corner of East 37th Street and Minnehaha Avenue in south Minneapolis, not far from the unrest that happened after George Floyd’s death.

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For founder Keno Evol, this new space is a passion project he’s been working on since 2015, when he first brought young Black artists together following the death of Michael Brown.

“There was a void that needed to be filled in Black folks in Minnesota having a space to talk about our joys and our grievances,” Evol said.

The modern space has conference rooms, offices, a seating area, reading nook, a library and a storefront, which will be the only space open to the public and non-members. In the store, members can display and sell their work to the public.

The purpose of Black Table Arts Cooperative lies in its name — a place for Black artists to have a place at the table.

(credit: CBS)

“To keep a promise to our community that we will always provide a space for you to return to,” Evol said.

The Black Table Arts Cooperative is located about six blocks from the Minneapolis Police 3rd Precinct building, which was burned down last May during the uprising following Floyd’s death. The proximity to this location was intentional.

“There’s so much grief, and I think grief presents an opportunity for connection, and art meets that need,” Evol said.

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Alfred Sanders is the cooperative’s director of operations.

“It’s also kind of changing the narrative of like there was so much negativity [connected to the area],” Sanders said.

Sanders, who is a singer and artist himself, plans to mentor and learn with other Black artists in this space. He hopes they can help each other recover after a year that put a lot of artists out of work.

“With anything, you need a following, and this can be a great place for people to start their foundation, to get their following or just practice their skills,” Sanders said.

Art isn’t the only draw for Sanders. He hopes he will find healing here through art, while keeping his father’s memory alive through connection.

“I lost my father with police brutality very close to where George [Floyd] lost his life 20 years prior,” Sanders said.

This is a pay-what-you-can membership. Evol wanted this space to be accessible to everyone.

The grand opening is Thursday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Anyone can come by for a COVID-safe tour, and learn more about becoming a member.

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The co-op is looking for book donations to fill their library with Black authors. You can also help fund the space by donating online.

Marielle Mohs