From the outside, the red-brick building at 1711 15th Avenue in Northeast Minneapolis looks much like it did over 90 years ago, when it housed the industrial operation of the Twin Cities Cord and Tire Company. That is, until you step far enough back to glimpse the 108 solar panels perched proudly on top- those were a recent touch. A far cry from cords and tires, the building-newly reborn as the Solar Arts Building– now houses a multitude of artists. Beginning August 10, it will also hold a taproom for Indeed Brewing.
Minneapolis oil painter Caitlin Karolczak is one of those artists. Recently relocated from the Grain Belt Bottling House, Karolczak was drawn to the Solar Arts Building due to its ecological focus, the proximity of craft beer, and the presence of so many other working artists.
“It’s very peaceful but at the same time I can always tell there are people in the building moving around, and that’s a really nice thing,” says Karolczak. “It’s really vibrant.”
For an oil painter, studio relocation is no small matter, Karolczak explains. Moving from Grain Belt to the Solar Arts Building took place over the course of a month.
“It’s hard to move a bunch of wet oil paintings-they’re so fragile,” she says. “Also, you’re used to having a certain kind of light and having your objects surround you in a certain order…I still have books I can’t find and different supplies all over the place.”
Nonetheless, the relocation has been worth it, she admits, and she’s excited to tap into her own following to help bring art lovers to the new space.
Already, the Solar Arts Building houses a list of 20 artists (and growing)-including Susan Wagner Ginter and painter Philip Hoffman. But the Indeed Brewing taproom is also bound to be a draw, as is the vast, well-lit event space-complete with the original boiler door and balsa fir timbers-that graces the top floor.
The refurbishing process for the Solar Arts Building involved asbestos and paint removal, the installation of energy-efficient fixtures, window replacement, and a new 92 percent efficient HVAC system. That, of course, and the solar panels that grace the roof.
To get a look at the new Solar Arts Building, and the work of its artists, drop in for one of the regular “First Thursdays” events from 5-9pm, featuring open studios by many of the new tenants.
Find out more about the SAB and how it came to be, on their website, solarartsbuilding.com.
For more information about Caitlin Karolczak’s work, visit her website, studiosilenti.com.