This a nice article about Squirrel Haus from the Healing Power of Art website:
How Squirrel Haus Arts Gives Generously to Artists and the Community
Squirrel Haus Arts is a vibrant 8,000 square foot arts and community space located in the Longfellow neighborhood of south Minneapolis, Minnesota. The range of events that take place in this incredible space include art gallery exhibitions, rehearsals and performances for theatrical companies, fundraising events for non-profit organizations, pop-up shows, community events and exciting experimental art projects. The founders Michael Meyer and Donna Spider Meyer state, “Bringing people together in collaboration makes us happy.” In this interview with Donna you’ll learn about how Squirrel Haus Arts gives generously to artists and the community.
“Our purpose is simple and straight forward. Provide visual and performance artists and the community a safe, clean, large space to develop their craft or ideas.”
RP: Donna, please tell us who runs Squirrel Haus Arts and your roles?
DSM: Michael is the Founder of Squirrel Haus Arts, described as “master scheduler and all-around coordinator and caretaker”. I am a full time painter and sculptor and co-caretaker of Squirrel Has Arts. I coordinate all art exhibitions, serve as the curator and art liaison. Maris Gilbert is an art therapist and environmental artist and facilitator of Squirrel Haus when Michael and I are out of town.
RP: Donna, I know everyone will want to know, what’s with the name?
DSM: Catchy and memorable we hope. Very random dinner party brainstorm. Squirrels are common and industrious — like us.
RP: What inspired Squirrel Haus Arts and how did it get started?
MM:I had a long standing dream to start an arts center. When I elected to retire from the music industry, my dream became reality. Donna is a graduate of Minneapolis College of Art and Design, and retired from a career as an art director to become a full time artist. We began our hunt in 2014 for a building to purchase. After a year long search we found a 8,000 square foot gem down by the railroad tracks and nestled near the grain silo’s. It was a former medical supply company filled to the gills with junk. The first year we upgraded the electrical and plumbing, created a gallery space, pulled down old wires etc. Squirrel Haus was busy from the start with local theater companies needing rehearsal space.
RP: What was the original vision for Squirrel Haus Arts?
MM:Intentionally there was no plan, only word of mouth. We wanted to see who showed up, and how Squirrel Haus would grow organically. We opted to not form a non-profit as we wanted the freedom to try things without writing grants or being limited to what the grant stated.
Many outstanding national and local art events take place at Squirrel Haus Arts. They serve artists with a large space to exhibit their art and the community gains an appreciation for a wide variety of art.
RP: What main purpose does Squirrel Haus Arts serve?
MM:Our purpose is simple and straight forward. Provide visual and performance artists and the community a safe, clean, large space to develop their craft or ideas. Our accountant refers to us as “profit challenged” as we are not doing what we do to get rich. As an artist I know how artists struggle and being able to afford them a place to do their craft is important to me. We often donate our space to non-profits and community groups. Yes…. we have taxes, light bills etc. to pay but we manage.
RP: What was the most unique event(s) you presented at Squirrel Haus?
DSM:So far two come to mind. The first was a performance artist who came with 4000 lbs of clay and built a wall. For her performance she was encased in the wall and emerged with help from 4 other women clawing at the clay wall. It seemed like forever to get her out.
For a fundraiser a giant volcano was constructed in our Build and Design space which is usually used for rehearsal or set building. For an extra fee, a participant could enter the volcano and have fake blood poured on his/her head from the hole in the top.
Oh, one more. We don’t recommend this, but there was a Toyota parked on the parking pad that (for a fee) you could smash with a sledge hammer. This idea (while awesome) is hard to clean up.
What was the most satisfying event you’ve presented?
MM:Minneapolis based, Safe Hands Rescue, brings about 80 puppies and neglected dogs from other states to Minnesota via a caravan. They use our entire lower level to set up a triage consisting of vet, photo station, feeding and paring up dogs with their new foster humans. They have quiet corners where frightened dogs can sit with their new foster human for comfort. We get many hugs from volunteers plus puppy cuddle time. Plus, they do an amazing job with clean up. The building is always cleaner and smells so good when they leave. They have been with us several times.
About Squirrel Haus Arts: “Minneapolis’ best kept secret… a multi-purpose art and event space. The owners are incredibly kind and accommodating… they always set up the space however we need, help us promote events.” ~ Sophia Nikitas, Anthill Productions