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Spotlight on Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts

Housed in one of the oldest buildings standing in the state of Minnesota, Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts has served as an artistic home to writers and artists for more than 35 years. Situated on the banks of the mighty Mississippi in Fridley, the Greek Revival structure was originally built as an inn for travelers along the Red River Ox Trail trading route.

It’s believed that people who once traversed this land and rested their heads on pillows here continue to inspire the creative people who make this building an artistic home today. While the gallery that exhibits visual art on a rotating basis probably gets the most attention, it’s the writers who are often tucked away in the various spaces scrawling in notebooks or typing away on laptops (Wouldn’t the innkeeper in 1847 be curious to see this sight?) who are the lifeblood of this old inn.

Tuesday mornings, you’ll find a motley crew of writers⎯some brand new to the idea of putting words on a page and others holding a mighty MFA⎯coming together for a facilitated writing group. In the largest space, which was once a general store and post office, 40-50 people assemble on the second Friday of each month to hear published writers in a warm and inviting reading series. Upstairs at any hour of the day, the Writer-in-Residence might be in her writing room making progress on her memoir, or perhaps being captivated by the creek flowing into the Mississippi or the deer stalking the flowers in the gardens or the family of geese waddling by outside her windows. Things get a little more real during the monthly critique group that meets on the last Saturday of the month.

While it’s not unique to have art and writing live together in an old building, somehow the intersection of nature, history, art, writing, technology, and, yes, even paranormal activity, here on this plot of land in suburban Minneapolis make it feel magical. Come, explore us online, connect with us on Facebook, and follow us on Instagram.

A native Saint Paulite, BETHANY WHITEHEAD discovered her love for the arts while a student at Kalamazoo College, but also quickly discovered making art is not her forte. Since receiving a Master’s Degree in Arts Administration, she has worked within arts organizations and for artists, holding positions at the Walker Art Center, the Women’s Art Resources of MN (WARM), the American Craft Council, the Playwrights’ Center, Rain Taxi, and currently, as Executive Director of Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts. When she’s not working with writers and artists, she can be found volunteering at MSP airport helping lost travelers, judging National History Day events, and serving on the board of the Somali women’s health organization, Isuroon. She also reads a novel a week, attends 150 art and theater events annually, travels outside the country at least once a year, obsessively collects handmade jewelry, and is training for her third triathlon.

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