Above: Public Functionary, during José Dominguez's 2018 exhibition "The Art of Avoiding People." Photo credit: Rik Sferra.

Northeast Minneapolis art space Public Functionary is letting go of its lease on the large, high-ceilinged, 2,500-square-foot room that has been its home for seven years.

Co-director/curator Tricia Heuring and co-director Mike Bishop hope to move into a new space that allows greater versatility, more amenities — and more than one room — by the end of the year or early 2020. 

“We have maxed out what we can do in the one-room, one-bathroom space,” said Heuring. “[I am working with] the niche of underrepresented, young, emerging artists, and I would like to have additional gallery space."

Public Functionary has hosted more than 30 exhibitions and more than 400 events in the space over their seven-year stay. They're hosting a farewell party on Saturday, April 20 for their current space at 1400 12th Av. NE.

From painting the walls purple to hosting an opera, Public Functionary is an extremely diverse, multi-faceted, eclectic art/performance/anything-creative-goes venue that allows artists a lot of freedom. PF also primarily shows work by emerging artists and young artists of color, such as Bobby Rogers' 2018 photography exhibition "The Blacker the Berry."

Heuring, who has lived in northeast for the past 10 years, is also sensitive to her tight relationships in the neighborhood and to being a part of the community. She hopes that Public Functionary can stay in northeast.

Although Public Functionary will be moving on from its original space, it also has another project, Studio 400, launched early this year in the Northrup King building. An incubator for artists working in a range of disciplines (fashion, graphic design, painting, multidisciplinary), Studio 400 prioritizes artists of color, offering them subsidized space and a community so that they are not “siloed out in the world,” as often happens to artists of color in the Twin Cities, Heuring said.

It is run by Leslie Barlow, who has had success in the Twin Cities, but as an artist of color also struggled to find mentorship and space even though she had educational opportunities.  

Above: Artist Leslie Barlow and Public Functionary's Tricia Heuring.

“Leslie wanted to do this and so we partnered on it,” said Heuring. “That is our new baby to grow for a little bit while we look for a new space.”

Public Functionary is an odd duck around the Twin Cities as far as art spaces go. It is a fiscally-sponsored not-for-profit, and it has an advisory board rather than a board that works in a governing capacity, as many other arts organizations do. It does fundraising and applies for grants from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council and the Jerome Foundation, but operates more on rentals and partnerships.

In leaving the current space, Heuring is also wondering about sustainability for the future.

“We are thinking about it more as an arts venue, a multipurpose space, that has a curated space in it but is not just a free-for-all,” she said.  “We want to bring in more revenue — even have a space that has a beer and wine license,” said Heuring. “Theaters have that!”

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