April 2009

By Sarah Colburn
Photo By Marshall Franklin Long

Inspiration Central

The city's new center aims to bring art and history to Maple Grove.

It's a place for artists to mingle, create and exchange crituques. It's a place where historians can gather and celebrate what is and what used to be. It's aplace for kids and adults alike to be inspired and learn the true joy of creating art.

It's the new Maple Grove Arts Center and History Museum. The center opened in December andd caters to experienced artists and newcomers. With classes like the the Not-So-Scary Drawing Class for Beginners, Drawing beTWEEN the Lines for Beginners and parent/child side-by-side classes for 3-5 year olds, the center is open to everyone.

"My vision is to have multiple teachers doing different things," founder and director Lorrie Link says. "What I imagine is classes filled every evening and even some during the day with parents who are home and seniors."

The center is located off main street in Maple Grove. The wood floors and freshly painted walls create the perfect backdrop for the homespun art hanging in the front half of the room. The back half of the building is home to the history center where artifacts are on display.

The mix is quaint and one that Link, who's both anartist and a history buff, says meshes well. The 12th-generation descendant of a Mayflower family has spent years involved in community groups and it's there that she met a historian in search of space for a local history museum. Putting the two together, Link said, drives traffic to both and gets young adults and families interested and involved in local history.

Though the center just opened, Link plans to not only offer regular times for classes and open studio, but to offer the space to artists for open studio time. She also plans to bring in artists for open discussions and have regular gallery shows there. The first gallery exhibit, The Red Show, was held in February.

The happenings at the center are handled by the Interface Cultural Arts group, a nonprofit also founded by Link. In the past, the group has been responsible for the NW Burbs Art Crawl, the Artist of the Month celebration at Art & Frame Warehouse and the Maple Grove Art Fair. The non profit will continue to be involved in manning the center and hosting fundraisers for it. Opus Northwest Management LLC currently donates the building space for the center as well as the electrical, water and heat. Funding for the future might come from business donations, foundations, grants and memberships, Link says.

Cindy McGowan, a teacher at the center, says she's excited about the potential and she welcomes kids and adults alike. She see the center as a quiet haven for overworked adults. "Art brings people into a different point in their life and gets them to think in an abstract way, " McGowan says. She also sees the center as a bonus for the kids who may be losing their art classes in the public schools. "It's about getting out there and getting the word out there that art is fun and you can be creative and you don't have to know anything about it," McGowan says, "It's about loosing up and letting the creative juices flow."

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