Saturday, December 31, 2011

Help us turn BEFORE into AFTER

Doesn't everyone love before and after photos? Whether it's your newly organized closet, someone's extreme makeover, or the the transition of an auto body shop into a community art center... photos that tell the story of then and now and the journey in between are compelling.

Here are a few of ours. When our volunteer coordinator extraordinaire, Jasmine McAleavey, put them together, we were struck again by what a radical transformation has taken place at 3749 Chicago Avenue. The physical changes are striking, but beyond that, we are even more encouraged by the shifts taking place at our neighborhood intersection. Our doors are now open to welcome the community from nearby and farther away. Doors are open at other new businesses around us. We're pretty thrilled to be part of this "after" - and we couldn't have done it without a whole lot of support along the way.

We've still got a lot of "before" to turn into "after." New programs to launch, additional equipment to acquire, more opportunities to provide. If you're able to help us with a financial contribution today, the last day of CAFAC's first full year in operation, you'll be helping us stoke the fire for an even better new year. Thank you!

Our shop, then and now. One of the first things we did was tear down the old false ceiling and remove tons of crumbling plaster from the walls. There's still more work to be done in this end of our shop, including the construction of a grinding bay.

The mezzanine level is new construction. Tucked underneath it is our classroom, shop sink area, and tool crib. Above - and accessible by wheelchair lift - will be used for our future glass and jewelry programs.

It's one of the most visually striking components of the facility - the railing that surrounds the entire mezzanine level. Designed by a student of our instructor/board member Roger Karlson, the panels were plasma cut and then welded into place.


We were giddy the day our contractor called to say he'd uncovered the original subway tile behind the drywall in what had up until recently been the auto body shop's office. That subway tile had lined the lobby of the Nokomis Theater - the building's original use - and we had no idea it was still there.

And that's the tile floor of the Nokomis Theater's lobby - also a thrilling surprise when it was revealed under a layer of industrial tile flooring. We've taken care to preserve as many of the building's original elements as possible, and the former theater's lobby now serves as our inviting gallery and face to the street.

Above, the Nokomis Gallery, shortly before its grand opening in December 2010. Board members Ryan Knoke and Montana Scheff did miraculous work turning a former auto body shop office into a beautiful, welcoming art gallery. Below, the Nokomis Gallery today, featuring glass and metal work by local artists.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Winter Break Welding!

To teachers, students, anyone with a few weeks off in late December/early January: how about an intensive Oxy-Acetylene Found Object Sculpture class? Normally we run this class over the course of 10 weeks, but during winter break we fit it into three weeks, meeting five hours a day, twice per week. It's a great opportunity to immerse yourself quickly and walk away with a project (or two) just a few weeks later. Registration is open now - class starts on December 27, so sign up today!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Leave Your Mark: A Community Art-Making Event at CAFAC

We invite you to leave your mark on our community by helping us create of a piece of public art. Through a series of open house events over the winter, we would like to learn who you are, what ties bind you to this community, and how you feel about this place by answering one simple question:

What brought you here?

We'll have our forges fired up and you'll have the opportunity to swing a hammer and stamp your response into a piece of hot metal. Those pieces will eventually be assembled into a sculpture entitled "Pillar of Community," to be installed at our intersection, 38th & Chicago.

Please join us for our first Leave Your Mark event on Saturday, December 10th, from 2 to 5 p.m., at 3749 Chicago Avenue. Open to anyone with an interest!

Our Nokomis Gallery will also be open and CAFAC board members will be on hand to show you around and answer questions. Please stop by!

Keep it hot all winter long... take classes at CAFAC!

We've got our winter quarter classes open and ready for registration on our website. Fall classes filled quickly, so we recommend signing up early. In addition to our welding, blacksmithing, and precious metal clay classes, we've also got a new series of fire performance classes. Something for everyone - and in case you were wondering, we do have gift certificates good for classes or items in our Nokomis Gallery.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Fall Classes Start Next Week!

It's hard to believe it's been a year since we opened our doors, and that we're now looking forward to welcoming students to another fall quarter! Enrollments have been great (thank you!) but we do still have spots left in a few classes:

Oxy-Acetylene Found Object Sculpture, starting Wednesday, 10/5, 2 to 5 p.m.
Blacksmithing Basics, starting Thursday, 10/6, 6 to 9 p.m.
Blacksmithing Level 2, starting Tuesday, 10/4, 6 to 9 p.m.

Find complete details and register on our website today!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Pound for Pound: Classes for Continuing Blacksmiths!

So you've taken our Blacksmithing Basics class and are looking to continue? We've got a couple opportunities for you! First is a brand-new class, taught by our master blacksmith, David Mariette. It's called... wait for it... Blacksmithing Level 2! OK, maybe we didn't pull out all the stops on coming up with the most creative new title, but that does sum it up: continue building on the skills you learned in Blacksmithing Basics, while also moving into upsetting, splitting, more tool making, twisting, scrolls, and forge welding.

And, if you've been wishing you could pound on hot metal at home whenever you like, you might want to consider our Build Your Own Forge class. You'll fabricate your own propane forge, just like the ones you use in class. You'll gain an intimate understanding of the equipment and how to safely operate and maintain it.

A few spots are still left in our Blacksmithing Basics class too. Visit our website to find complete descriptions of all these classes and register online. Classes start the first week of October!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Our first welding class for youth!

There are a lot of budding welders and metal sculptors out there who have not been able to take part in our current Oxy-Acetylene Found Object Sculpture classes. So, by popular demand, we've added a four-day intensive version of this class, especially for 12- to 17-year-olds. It's running August 8 - 11, from 9:30 to 3:30 each day. Find complete details and a registration form on our website. Space is limited to 8 students, so sign up today!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Scholarships and Summer Classes

Student work, spring 2011
Summer classes are starting soon and now's the time to sign up! Seeing some garden art in your future? Why not make it yourself? We've got our Oxy-Acetylene Found Object Sculpture and Blacksmithing Basics classes starting the first week of July. And for something completely different, we're offering a Fire Performance and Prop Fabrication class, starting the second week of July. Towards the end of July, learn how to make your sculptures interactive in our Artbot: Arduino class. Find the complete details and register today on our website!

Thanks to grant funding made available by the Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund of the Legacy Amendment, along with grants from the Bancroft Neighborhood Association and the Central Area Neighborhood Development Organization, we are pleased to offer income-based tuition assistance. The application is simple and can be downloaded from our website, or call us at 612.294.0400 to get one. A portion of our scholarship funding runs out on June 30, so we encourage you to apply for summer or fall classes today.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

New spring class announced!

We're really excited about this one:

Fire Performance and Prop Fabrication
In this course, you'll build your very own fire prop (choose from staff, double staff, poi, or nunchaku). You'll also learn about the history of fire performance, fire safety while performing and the foundational spinning moves to get you started. The course provides a solid introduction to fire performing while also allowing you to choose which prop you want to progress further with. Class sessions will include practice and individual help, and the course will culminate in a group performance.

Instructor: Cody “Pyrus” Fiereck has been a fire performer for four years. He is also a red belt in Shaolin Kung Fu. He loves teaching and growing the spinning community.

10 weeks: Tuesdays, 4/19 - 6/28 (no class 5/17), 7 to 9 p.m. 
Fee: $250 (all materials included)

Register today on our website, or give us a call at 612.294.0400!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Still room left...

but time's running out, with most spring classes starting next week! We still have at least a couple spots left in all classes, so now's the time to grab them. Read all about 'em and register online at, or give us a call. We hope to see you at CAFAC soon!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Register for Spring 2011 classes!

With spring around the corner (really, it is, really), now is the time to shake yourself out of hibernation mode and head on down to CAFAC to learn how to use heat, spark, or flame to create those projects you've been thinking about all winter. Garden art season is right around the corner!

Most classes are starting in mid-April. Visit our website to see what we're offering so far in welding, blacksmithing, and Precious Metal Clay, and check back often as we add new classes in the coming weeks. You can register online or by calling us at 612.294.0400.

Scholarships available!
Thanks to funding from the Bancroft Neighborhood Association and from the MN State Arts Board (through funds from the Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment), tuition assistance scholarships are available for CAFAC classes. Email or call 612.294.0400 to request an application.

(Photo courtesy Courtney Conk, CAFAC neighbor and volunteer. Thanks Courtney!)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Artist Profile: Lonny McLaughlin

At the Nokomis Gallery, we are so fortunate to have such an amazing group of local artists currently exhibiting their work. One of these artists is Lonny McLaughlin.

Lonny's career as an artist began in 1970. It was then, while still a student, Lonny began to exhibit his paintings; art fairs, local art centers, and the like. During the years that followed, Lonny’s development as an artist grew as a private, independent, studio-based, self-generated activity that from time to time showed up as an obsession and would take all the skills he could master to pull out what he imagined.

Currently Lonny is working on a fused series called “Woven Work”. This is an attempt to represent glass as textile. Each piece is as though a piece of fabric were torn from a much larger whole and magnified several times to capture the color detail of each “thread”. In the process of finding color combinations, textures, opacity, transparency, reflection and refraction, making tableware and jewelry have become a practical way as well as a fine benefactor for his larger experimental and studio pieces. Several of these woven pieces are currently being exhibited in the gallery.

In Lonny’s words, “In the process of discovery, I am imagining a time when I have satisfied my attempt to marry the joy of mixing paint with the magical transparency and sparkle of glass. The outcome of this journey will be something, I can’t see it yet, but it will be something. Each piece, both painting and glass brings me a bit closer.”

Lonny resides in the Central neighborhood in Minneapolis and has been a strong supporter of CAFAC since it was just an idea. He is currently exhibiting a wide variety of work at the gallery; from affordable jewelry on up to a fabulous stained glass screen.

To see Lonny's work in person, stop by the Nokomis Gallery, open Thursdays from 6 to 8pm, and on Saturdays from 10am to 5pm. We're also available by appointment by calling 612.294.0400.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Your sweetie loves Precious Metal Clay

What? You think Valentine's Day isn't a real holiday? It's just a marketing ploy to sell more stuff? Well... you may have a point. But still, we're pretty sure there's someone in your life that would heart a class at CAFAC, and it just so happens we've got one starting on February 15: Metal Clay Exploration. Join instructor Laura Juul in this 6-week introductory course covering the basics of working with amazing Precious Metal Clay. It's deceptively simple, allowing you to make beautiful jewelry items and other small sculpture out of pure silver clay, using your hands and simple tools. Full details and online registration can be found here. It'll make a perfect gift for someone you love, and that includes yourself!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Nokomis Gallery Open Tomorrow: New 2011 Hours Set!

It's finally warming up outside!...time to get out of the house and heat things up even more by stopping in to the Chicago Avenue Fire Art Center's new Nokomis Gallery! We'll be open all day Saturday, February 5, from 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Current Exhibition and Sale
Our current exhibition and sale features an array of gorgeous glass and metal works (from one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces to large sculptures, and everything in-between) by local artists Lonny McLaughlin, Jacob Honer, Jim Wadsworth, Emily Johnson, and Betty Jager. Check out our website for photos!

New 2011 Hours
Our new 2011 hours are set, so if you can't make it tomorrow, be sure and stop in anytime during our new open hours:
  • Thursdays, 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
  • Saturdays, 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
  • By appointment. Call 612.294.0400

Interested in volunteering at the Chicago Avenue Fire Arts Center or in the Nokomis Gallery?
Fill out our volunteer profile form.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Register now for Winter 2011 classes!

They're the perfect way to keep warm all winter long - classes at CAFAC! Welding, blacksmithing, electronics, jewelry - there's something for everyone, starting this month. Check out our class listings for complete descriptions and to register online, or give us a call at 612.294.0400.

Here's a summary of what we're offering for winter quarter:

Oxy-Acetylene Found Object Sculpture
This beginning course focuses on applying oxy-acetylene welding, cutting, and brazing techniques to the fabrication of a sculptural project.
Choose a session:
Wednesdays, 1/19 – 3/23, 2 to 5 p.m., $330
Wednesdays, 1/19 – 3/23, 6 to 9 p.m., $330
Saturdays, 1/22 – 3/26, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., $330

Abstract Metal Sculpture
This intermediate-level course focuses on making nonrepresentational metal sculpture using oxy-acetylene welding, hot forging, and cold working techniques.
Fridays, 1/21 – 3/18, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., $340
Blacksmithing Basics
This beginners’ course is designed to ignite your passion for blacksmithing and to introduce you to the endless ways of shaping iron with fire and hammer.
Choose a session:
Thursdays, 1/20 – 3/31 (no class 1/27), 6 to 9 p.m., $350
Mondays, 1/17 – 3/21, 6 to 9 p.m., $350
Build Your Own Propane Forge
In this introductory course, you will learn the metal fabrication and welding techniques needed to build your own propane forge to take home.
Choose a session:
Thursdays, 2/3 – 3/24, 2 to 5 p.m., $400
Thursdays, 2/3 – 3/24, 6 to 9 p.m., $400
Metal Clay Exploration
In this class, you will learn the sculpting and forming techniques used to create pendants, beads, and rings out of art out silver metal clay.
Tuesdays, 2/15 – 3/22, 6 to 9 p.m., $220
LED Hoop-Making Workshop
In this half-day workshop, you’ll assemble your own LED hoop from scratch, using PVC pipe, wire, LEDs and tape. Open to ages 14 and up.
Choose a session:
Saturday, 1/29, 12:30 to 4:30 p.m., $80
Saturday, 3/12, 12:30 to 4:30 p.m., $80
Arduino: Hands-On Physical Computing
Learn how to use the Arduino open-source physical computing platform to build and program small projects using the Sparkfun Inventors Kit.
Tuesdays, 1/18 – 3/8 (no class 1/25 & 2/22) 7 to 9 p.m., $230