Tag Archives: American Craft Council

Readers, writers, books — and plans – coming together in Northeast

As gardeners and farmers reap the harvest, it seems that ideas that may have remained dormant during the growing season suddenly come full  bloom. Ideas flower. Plans come together.

Such is the case with the inclusive and expanding voices of the literary arts, a vital strand of the Northeast Minneapolis arts community. These are examples only, definitely not the whole, of the ways in which the voices of Northeast Minneapolis community of the book – broadly defined – are being shared.

  • The Friends of Northeast Library are sponsoring another in their series of Salon Nordeast set for Saturday, September 19, 4-7 p.m. at the Gallery Solar Arts Building, 711, NE 15th – All are invited to mingle, enjoy the art, meet with authors, buy a book and have it signed. Readings and discussion follow at 5:30. Author presenters include local resident John Jodzio, and others including writers Neal Karlen, Julie Schumacher, and Brad Zellar. The readings will be moderated by local Northeast author Sarah Stonich.   $5 donation is suggested to support the Friends of NE Library.
  • Voices of Northeast – a series of video interviews with Northeast writers, publishers, booksellers and others who give voice to people who are engaged with the northeast community of the book. Each week Peter Shea conducts extensive informal interviews these individual who represent the various aspects of the literary world. The interviews are cablecast on Metro Cable Network Channel 6, which is carried on every cable system in the metro area. Videos are then archived at the University of Minnesota Institute for Advanced Studies – accessible for download, editing or other reuse. The series so far includes Chris Fischbach, celebrating his 20th year at  Coffee House Press, writer Sara Stonich (Vacation Land), storyteller Jerry Blue, Michelle ­­­Filkins of Spout Press and others. This season’s interviews include staff of the American Craft Council, Education Director Perry Price and Library Director Jessica Shaykett, as well as Scott VanKoughnett, proprietor of area bookstore Eat My Words, and local writer John Jodzio. Many more to come.

Shared stitches and stories strengthen TC’s neighborhoods

The human hand, so delicate and so complicated not only allows the mind to reveal itself but it enables the whole being to enter into special relationships with its environment. We might even say that man takes possession of his environment with his hands.

The thoughtful words of Maria Montesorri might serve as the mantra for the scores of young girls and boys and their “crafty” elders by participating in LitKnit (www.litknit.org). Throughout the Twin Cities LitKnit groups are popping up as folks of all ages catch on to the idea of this inter-generational community-building initiative that weds listening to and discussing good reads with learning and practicing a handcraft of choice.

LitKnit reflects a blend of Montesorri’s ideas with the spirit of founder Jaime Gjerdingen, a St Paul mom who reflects on the role that reading played in her own childhood. Remembering how reading helped her decipher and interpret a confusing world, Gjerdingen capitalizes on that strength to create communities in which neighbors read, talk and craft together.

Jaime’s vision is of a fairly structured inter-generational environment in which a trained facilitator/skilled crafter guides a gathering of neighbors – neighbors who live on the block or cul de sac, in the housing project or high rise, or otherwise share common space but not their lives. In Jaime’s words, “our goal is the long-term support of these groups, as we believe this engagement creates stable environments for people to truly get to know each other, learn a useful skill and deeply explore ideas together. We’ve found that these activities strengthen people beyond the skills themselves, helping them face challenges with hope and resiliency.”

LitKnit is gaining the attention of neophyte and veteran crafters, as well as supporters that include the Textile Center (www.textilecentermn.org), Crafty Planet (http://craftyplanet.com/about-us), and the American Craft Council (http://craftcouncil.org) housed in the historic Grain Belt Building in Northeast Minneapolis.  The Craft Council has even selected Jaime and the LitKnit project as their first member spotlight profile. (http://craftcouncil.org/post/acc-member-spotlight-jaime-gjerdingen) Jaime takes seriously the challenge to offer support for volunteer facilitators. All receive training on techniques, resources, back-up and more.  The members of the LitKnit peer circles meet once a month at various locations depending on members’ choice.

As Minnesota readers and crafters think beyond the State Fair and begin to plan for the months to come, the idea of blending books, crafts and getting to know the neighbors takes on a rosy glow.

All are invited to fan that flame by taking part in LitKnit’s inaugural CraftUp event. It’s Tuesday, August 11, 6-8 PM at Surly Brewing Company, 820 Southeast Malcolm, Surly’s much-heralded new site in Prospect Park. ((http://surlybrewing.com/destination-brewery/beer-hall-and-restaurant/#directions. This inaugural CraftUp is open to anyone with a hint of interest in crafting, listening to and talking about good books, teaching craft techniques to young people, community-building – or just enjoying an evening in the company of good people in the garden at Surly’s. $10 suggested donation to support the expanding work of LitKnit.

Crafters give new life to discarded library cards!

Residents of Northeast Minneapolis are extraordinarily proud that the American Craft Council has chosen to establish its permanent home in the neighborhood, at the old Grainbelt Brewery at 1224 Marshall.  This week Northeast shares the treasure with the nation and beyond as the ACC hosts its major Midwest show featuring more than 200 of the country’s finest contemporary jewelry, clothing, furniture and home decor artists.  The Show is April 19-21 at St. Paul River Center

As it happens this is also National Library Week which is why I found great delight in exploring an armchair experience that blends crafts and libraries in wonderfully inventive ways.  The ACC’s Library Card Project left me smiling and in awe of the creativity of the crafters – suffice to say I got lost in learning about what creative minds and hands can do with a discarded library card.  The photos are great and the profiles of the crafters are equally enchanting.

Patricia Johnson is credited with having had the vision of the Library Card Project.  She is a paper crafter and community organizer in Carol Stream, Illinois.  Her idea was to “let new crafters know to step out of their comfort zone and try something on a different scale.”

Crafters did unleash their imaginations.  For example, Patti Millington of Kurtistown, HI, created a piece she calls Archive in which “the cards arranged are on a viewing device which, when rotated to align with a certain card, allow a person to look through the eye piece to see an image from the corresponding book across the gallery.  The book images are situated on a timeline encircling the gallery that indicates the era of the craft represented in the book described on the library card.”  Millington says that “the catalog cards with their Dewey Decimal numbers and handwritten notations spoke of our collective efforts to preserve the information and objects that mark our existence.  The information and dates on the cards were a perfect fit for an idea I’ve had for a piece recording fleeting human impressions on the history of time.”  Millington captures the essence of the project.

The only way to appreciate the Library Card Project is to spend time absorbing the visual images and reading the words of the crafters.  You’ll learn about the expanse of their creative imaginations – and find a beautiful new life for discarded library catalog cards.  Click on http://www.craftcouncil.org/tags/library-card-project.

You’ll also be inspired to drop in at the American Craft Council show in downtown St. Paul this weekend.  For complete information on hours, exhibitors and more go to http://shows.craftcouncil.org/stpaul.



American Craft Council Digital Library – A Unique NE Minneapolis Resource

For some time I have intended to post something about the American Craft Council Digital Library.  This article, which just came out, presents a far more complete report than I could research.  I’m attaching it here – with a strong encouragement for everyone to check out the Craft Council website.  In 2010 the Council and Library moved to 1224 Marshall in Northeast Minneapolis.  Today the ACC has  a strong and welcome presence in the Northeast community.  Great location and a fascinating addition to this community which has a history of craft design and creation.

My suggestion is that you start with the very attractive ACC and Library, then click on the YouTube introduction to the Digital Library.  You won’t be able to resist exploring more of the website and the history and program of the American Craft Council.

The following is a direct quote from the ACC website.

Since the launch of the ACC Library Digital Collections last fall, we’ve been gathering your feedback and making adjustments to the database to increase its functionality. Thanks to everyone who has taken a look at the collections, filled out our survey, and/or stopped to chat about our online resources and website at the library booth at one of the ACC Shows or at SOFA Chicago. Your feedback has been an invaluable means for us to improve our services and ensure that what we put online benefits your research needs and satisfies your innate curiosity as makers, curators, scholars, students, and craft appreciators.    

In an effort to better explain the usefulness of the Digital Collections, we’ve created a brief video tutorial to walk you through the best methods for accessing materials and searching the database. This video focuses on our ACC Newsletter Collection (1957-1986), a wonderful resource for in-depth information on particular craft artists, exhibitions, and events. If you’ve struggled with accessing our newsletters online, or if you have yet to take a look at the Library Digital Collections, please check us out!

If you have additional comments or questions, feel free to contact us at library@craftcouncil.org.


*** Watch for more information about the American Craft Council Show which will be held this year on April 20-22 at the Rivercentre in St. Paul.

Learn more about the library from this Voices of Northeast conversation with Library Director,  Jessica Shaykett — click here: http://ias.umn.edu/2014/07/29/northeast/