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Rifle Sport Alternative Arts was an art gallery space that sat above Block E, in downtown Minneapolis from 1985 through 1988, when the city tore down the block with grand plans. Rifle Sport Alternative Arts was so much more than a physical location, more importantly it was the people and events that went on there.

Shows and Events

The phenomenon of the Gallery Crawl is a subject unto itself. Rifle Sport's shows, while not sharing in the guise of the other galleries, usually outdid the other openings in as far as entertainment and surprise. The Art being featured in the gallery was one aspect of a much larger event. Following is a chronologic list, not a complete list; but a list of installations, openings, performances, publications, installations at other venues, and the like.

1985


Colleen Barnett
Opens Rifle Sport Gallery:September


Steve Grandell & Charlie Bailey
Musical Performance: Halloween

1986


Laura E. Migliorino
Paintings: February 8-26


Rosa Jung, Susan Seuss, Tim Miske, Melanie Keeling, Curt Alban, Tim Colby
Group Show: Paintings, Sculpture in Ceramic and Bronze, Wall Reliefs March 22- April 5


Pamela Blotner, Dae-Duck Cha, Little Bobby Duncan, John O'Fiel, Phil Fitzpatrick, Merideth Jack, Jana Vander Lee,
Pat Warner

8 Texas Artists: The Gulf Coast Connection May 10-25


Steve Grandell, Bob Grassel, Fay Miller, Richard Blue Skroch, Ruthann Godollei, Steve Brunsberg
Group Show: Installations, Guitar Constructions, Photography, Furniture, Sculpture, Video May 31-July 1


Demolition Daze Art Auction
June 19


The First Annual Rifle Sport Auto Art Show
Parking lot of The Cabooze bar: June 28


Thomas Paquette
Paintings: July


Rob Segal and Chris Pinney
Bronze Bears, Paintings: August 11-September


Bill Taylor
Mixed media installation: August (First showing in smaller adjacent space)


The Swabs, Ting Kong, Play house
Performance and Music: August 23


Monty Flinsch, J.R. Hartly, Greg Carr, Noreen ?, Carol ?
Found Drum Performance: August 23


Andrew J. Wroble
Performance, Dancing Buildings: August 29


Ann Morgan
Paintings: September 12-October 10


Karen Ericson, Melissa Stang, Lori Burton, Jill Waterhouse
-A View From Inside- 4 Minnesota Artists: October 18-November 5


JAO, Sherry Brooks
Installation room: October 18-November 5


Ruthann Godollei
Hallway Installation: October 18-November 5


Jim Tittle, Neal Ivan Cuthbert, L. Shane Brantley
Group Show, Mixed Media:December-January 5


Rolf Belgum
Installation Room: Mixed Media: Skeleton, Muscle, Skin: December-January 5


Dwayne Erickson
Stairway Installation:December-January 5


Bloppo and Zingo; Naive Ensemble
Performance: A Slime Clown Xmas: Music: December 19

1987


Ruthann Godollei
Commissioned cover of Vinyl Magazine: January


Steve Brunsberg
Guitar Sculptures: January 10-February 5


Naive Ensemble
Performance: January 10


Walter Jost and Mike Mercil
February 27-April 2


Walker Art Center Pre-Sculpture Garden Installation
Ruthann Godollei, Steve Brunsberg, Steve Grandell, Susan Abelson, Joe Hoover, Doug Argue, Paula Rebne, Michael Whitten, Lynette Reini-Grandell, and Rita Nadir
"...beginning the night of April 10 when Joe Hoover's pickup truck hauled some of the work over to the Walker until Monday morning when the construction crew's Bobcat tractor lifted it off the site..."
April 10-13


Steve Grandell
Mural painted on front doors facing Hennepin Ave: Early May


Mark Trelstad, Tim Miske, Tim Wagner
Group Show: Paintings, Stairway Installation: May 16-June 19


David Kessler
Performance: Dave's Pop Expressionism Show: May 16


Kim Downing
Video poet: May 20


June Moon and Phillip Johnson
Paintings, Drawings, Collage: June 27-July 24


Two Guys From Montana
Sound Installation, Performance: June 27


'Best Small Gallery' recognition in City Pages 'Best of the Twin Cities'


Stuart Mead, Shannon Brady, Frank Hoffman, Richard Blue
Group Show: Painting and Sculpture: August 1-September 5


Steve Brunsberg
Guitar Sculptures, shown at The Uptown Theatre: August 9--


Naive Ensemble
Performance and Video: August 22


Steve Brunsberg
Live at The Uptown Theatre: August 22


Special Performance Music Video
August 29


Live From Off Off Center
Cable access TV show: Mondays @ 8:30 pm. MTN


Lies Inc.
Performance: September 5


Ann Morgan
Paintings: September


Ruthann Godollei
Installation at The Uptown Theatre: October 4-24


Susan Abelson, Susan Seuss, Jane Feicht, Jane Polachek, Laura Migliorino
Women's Art Month, Group Show: Mixed Media: October 10-31


Video Event
October 23


Greg Storbakken
Installation at The Uptown Theatre, Paintings: October 24-November 7


Dan Havel, Charles Putnum, Terry Hart
Found Objects...:Finders, Keepers, Recreators: November 7-28


Andrew J.Wroble
Performance: November 7


Oxana Yonan
Performance: November 7


Jan Elftmann, In conjunction with Finders Keepers, Recreators
Installation in the window of T.J. Maxwell's Department Store: November 7-26


Rifle Sport Videos at The Uptown Theater
November 8


King Paisley and The Psycho Delics
Performance: November 14


Ann Morgan, Ruthann Godollei
Installation at Cafe del'Arte: November


'Finders, Keepers, Recreators'
Panelists: David Skarjune, Vinyl Magazine; Peter Boswell, Walker Art Center; James Tanner, Prof. Mankato State; Julie Yanson, MCAD Gallery Curator; Ruthann Godollei, Prof. U. of M. and Macalester.
Panel Discussion and Open Forum November 21


Robert Lindell
Paintings: December 5-January 5, 1988


Ruthann Godollei: Working World
1985 FITC Film/Video Grant Recipients Showcase: December 16-17
Jerome Hill Theatre


1988 Calender + Tape{First 100 Copies}
Artists by month:Steve Grandell, David Kessler, Mary Kerr, Tim Miske, JAO, Mark Trelstad, David Sollie, Sue Suess, Mark Garrigan, Ruthann Godollei, Ann Morgan, Steve Brunsberg
Cover:Steve Grandell
Photos:Andy Baird
Poetry:W. Joe Hoppe
Tape Contributors:Steve Brunsberg, Tim Colby, Steve Grandell + Charlie Bailey, Greg Carr

1988


JAO
Commissioned cover of Vinyl Magazine: January


Steve Grandell
Installation-2nd floor Uptown Theatre: January 8-February 4


Melanie Keeling, Ruthann Godollei, Tim Fox
Group Show: January 16-February 20


Janet Rolfer
A Sculptural Installation: January 16-February 20


Mark Garrigan
Stairwell Installation: How do you make Creamy Pudding into a Chewy Snack Roll?
January 16-


Wendy J. Knox, Roy McBride
Performances:Love and Addiction/Roaring Traffic: January 16


Andy Baird
Installation at Slice of New York Cafe: April 9-May 6


Rifle Sport Magazine
Magazine Contributors:


Town Meeting
"Toward the artistic and creative treatment of a temporary urban parking lot..."
Block E Design Day: Thursday, May 12, 7-9 p.m.
Meeting held at Rifle Sport


Rifle Sport Benefit
Williams Uptown Bar and Hair Police: June 23


Pocketful of Mirrors
Magazine published by Andy Baird, W. Joe Hoppe, Luke McGuff
Contributors:Andy Baird, Connie Baron, Christian Carbone, Greg Carr, Paul D. Dickinson, Moe Flaherty, Frank Gaard, Ruthann Godollei, Joshua P. Holcumb, W. Joe Hoppe, Mary Kerr, Erik Kosberg, Georgeanna Lewis, Mike McCoy, Joe McDonnell, Luke McGuff, Patrick McKinnon, Polly Monear, Ann Morgan, JAO


"Exhibition of Alternative Art & Cultural Exchange Program"
Group Show at Apache Plaza Shopping Center: August 20-21
Psychic readings by The Slime Clowns: Bloppo and Zingo
An Auto Art Show preview
'Cowboy In the City' Puppet Show: Andrew Wroble


Jan Elftmann
Installation at Gallery 101, University of Wisconsin-River Falls: September 14-October 2


Steve Brunsberg, John Goldblatt, Terry Hart
Found Object Art, Gallery Talk and Reception: September 20


Joe Hoppe
Publication Party for Just Goin' at The Uptown Theatre: October 8


1989 Calender
Artists by monthAnn Morgan, Steve Grandell, Zingo and Bloppo, Susan Abelson, JAO, Joe Hoover, Mark Trelstad, Andy Baird, Mark Garrigan, Ruthann Godollei, Mary Kerr, June Moon & Philip Johnson
Cover:Ruthann Godollei
Special Thanks:Tim Miske, Mike Edwards, Jen Schmid, Zach Zniewski

1989


"The True Tribute and Farewell To Block E"
First Avenue & 7th St. Entry in association with Rifle Sport Gallery: Saturday, January 14
Photo Essay of Block E; Jeff Farnam and Mark Jensen
"Shinders To Shinders" A film by Roy Mcbride, Dan Polssfuss, and Patrick Scully
Musical Cameos by: Grant Hart, The Sheepherders


Dan Havel
Recent Work: October 14-November 11

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Rifle Sport Artists

Following is a partial, but mostly complete list of the artists and performers who were associated, in whatever way with the overall event known as Rifle Sport. For lack of any better way, they appear in alphabetical order.

A
Susan Abelson
John Akre
Curt Albin
Vance Anderson
Doug Argue

B
Andy Baird
Charlie Bailey
Colleen Barnett
Connie Baron
Rolf Belgum
Matt Beron
Bloppo the Clown
Pamela Blotner
Shannon Brady
Shane Brantley
Scott Brennan
Sherry Brooks
Steve Brunsberg
Jill Burchill
Lori Burton

C
Cancer Bunny
Christian Carbone
Brian Carpenter
Greg Carr
Dae-Duck Cha
Michelle Charles
Kelly Clark
Tim Colby
Neal Ivan Cuthbert

D
Paul D. Dickenson
Kim Downing
Little Bobby Duncan
Lewsi Dwinnell

E
Jan Elftman
Dwayne Erickson
Karen Erikson
Wendy Ernst

F
Jeff Farnum
Jane Feicht
Moe Flaherty
Monty Flinsch
Philip Fitzpatrick
Tim Fox

G
Frank Gaard
Mark Garrigan
Mark Gerhard
Ruthann Godollei
John Goldblatt
Steve Grandell
Robert Grassol

H
Grant Hart
Terry Hart
Dan Havel
Frank Hoffman
Joshua P. Holcumb
W. Joe Hoppe
Joe Hoover

J
Merideth M. Jack
Phillip Johnson
Walter Jost
Rosa Jung

K
Melanie Keeling
Mary Kerr
David Kessler
Ross Knight
Wendy J. Knox
Erik Kosberg

L
Jana Vander Lee
Georgeanna Lewis
Robert Lindell

M
Roy McBride
Mike McCoy
Duane Mcdarmid
Joe McDonnell
Luke McGuff
Patrick McKinnon
Stuart Mead
Mike Mercil
Laura Migliorino
Fay Miller
Tim Miske{Mann Makula Hawks}
June Moon
Vicki Moore
Polly Monear
Ann Morgan

N
Rita Nadir

O
JAO {Julie O'Bougahill}
John O'Fiel
Kevin O'Rorke

P
Thomas Paquette
Chris Pinney
Jane Polachek
Charles Putnam

R
Red Shift{Ann Penaz}
Paula Rebne
Lynette Reini-Grandell
Rendered Useless
Janet Rolfer
Bob Rosenski

S
Satyarthi
Rob Segal
Subversive Pagens
Susan Seuss
Richard Blue Skrooh
David Sollie
Emilijia Somberg
Melissa Stang
Greg Storbakken
Mic Stowell
Chris Strouth

T
Bill Taylor
Technique Nique
The Tete Noirs
Ting Kong
Jim Tittle
Mark Trelstad
Two Guys From Montana

V
Russel Vogt

W
Tim Wagner
Kevin Wall
Nancy Waller
Patricia Warner
Jill Waterhouse
Michael Whitten
Andrew Wroble

Y
Oksana Yonan

Z
Zachay Zniewski
Zingo the Clown

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How it all began

F rank Sherman owned the building on Block E. In 1985 the RIFLE SPORT arcade moved out of the second floor, creating a 12,000 Sq/ft vacancy.

After some problems with Moonies, who had occupied the space for 6 months, Mr. Sherman sub-leased the space to a family friend: Scott Baddenoch. Mr. Baddenoch was a U of M student at the time. He rented studio units to artists at about $2.00 a Sq/ft per year. There were 8 studio spaces ranging from 500 Sq/ft to 1500 Sq/ft. Among the artists were Colleen Barnett and Doug Argue.

Colleen was a University student at the time, she was a bronze sculptor. She had been homeless for a few months, after having been locked out of her apartment by a less than stable roommate. When she began living at the old pinball gallery, her particular studio was one of the larger open spaces. Before she had finished building walls, she lived in a pile.

She had made an amazing structure that had similarities to a Beavers’ Dam; in that from the outside it appeared to be a pile. It was a structure made of books and plywood, canvas and debris. It looked like a junk pile. No one knew she was living there, under the rubble. This was good, and necessary. She was living alone in a wide open space, in the middle of a notorious part of town, and violating city code(s).

With the studio she had intended to have a foundry, but the city codes put an end to that. With encouragement from Robert Lindell and Walter Jost, both painters, she turned to her next idea: a gallery.

Colleen’s first show was Melanie Somberg. A painter, and wife of a University professor. A local band, Tete-Noir played on the night of the opening {They were a mix of power-pop and folk stuff, all women}. It was an excellent show.

Colleen Barnett and Bill Taylor met shortly before that show.

Taylor: “Though I was not involved yet, I remember she picked the name from the pinball arcade. Everyone recognized the name and knew exactly where it was.

“After the October break for a gallery rebuild, Colleen opened a group show of Walter Jost, Robert Lindel & Scott Brennan. It was a tight show, very professional. It got some reviews. Some of the artists were still students, so Rifle Sport became known as a ‘Student’ gallery.”

He continues: “I had been hanging out with Colleen, and other artists at the gallery and helped with the opening. Artists seemed to come from all directions, from all disciplines. All wanting and deserving shows. It was overwhelming! Artists also needed to vent. The sterile gallery scene seemed to reject all local artists, not just students.

“High profile, high buck artists from the coasts seemed to get all the attention. But some local people that were young and inventive, had success. Aldo Moroni who made ceramic land/city scapes had landed grants and sold some large work. Doug Argue was doing well, many others also seemed on the brink. There was even talk of a new ‘Regionalism’ sweeping the nation, and maybe the art power brokers on the coasts wouldn't’ta have so much control. Maybe artists won’t have to go to New York to make it big.”

Taylor: “There were two arts related papers in town: Artpaper and Vinyl. Oh for the days of lots of funding... Already a theatre town, the papers had a built in audience for art info. Both papers covered the gallery crawl, did reviews.”

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Characteristics of time period

W hen looking back at creative events, or periods, it is easy to fall into the trap of believing “That they were ahead of their time.”. I do not believe this to be the case with Rifle Sport.

I believe the artists involved at Rifle Sport had an often acute sense of the immediacy of the times. What was happening, among other things, was the beginnings of a new experience for the Twin Cities, and the artists who frequented the place.

The mid-eighties, artistically, was a period of mixing: of mixed media, which is what it was called back then. Anyway, it was a time when artists of different persuasions were taking in elements of other mediums in attempts to better express their creative vision. Limits were being stretched and rules broken.

"But art is spilling out of its frames into subway graffiti. Will it stop there?
Consider an apocalyptic statement: Nothing is true. Everything is permitted."

This is a quote from a William S. Burroughs piece called Apocalypse, written in the late 80’s. He did not write this regarding the artists coming together at the old arcade building on Hennippen Ave. Not specifically at any rate, but it seems appropriate enough.

At this time the existing galleries seemed stiff and cold. One of the tenants of the Rifle Sport aesthetic was inclusion. All who entered should be treated equally and openly. Engage them in conversation, involve them in the experience of art.

Another factor of the time that cannot be underestimated was “that Punk thing”. The over used phrase of “Do It yourself” is accurate. The same power that threw musical instruments and bands together was having the same effects on artists of all disciplines. It was art in your face.

The mid 80’s also saw a drastic period of city development. There were still loft spaces downtown, but the buildings were going fast. Either destroyed by parking ramps, arenas, gentrification or the like.

The artists who worked and lived in these spaces felt the pressure of the city and were in the mood to resist, even a little if that’s what could be done. A mood of wanting to take some of it back; to hold on for as long possible. Longer. It felt good: It was loud and rough and new. Just by being there, up above Hennepin Ave and across from the then thriving city center was good.

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Location

Block E was a block out of context. It had become a sort of microcosm of the city’s past, and a present that was slowly vanishing from sight. It was only a matter of time before this last easily visible remnant of the cities underbelly was razed in the name of progress: more parking.

But in the meantime it was a great place. Block E’s artistic expression. Central location to just about everything, and those windows. The greatest windows to sit in and watch. 40,000 cars a day. Sitting up there, just higher than the street and watching everything and everybody go by ( People in metropolitan areas don’t look up very often.).

But there was a lot more going on besides watching Henneppin Avenue. There was cheap rent. The rent for this space at that time was $2.89/Sq. Ft/Year. This was less than a third the average for downtown cheap rents. A man by the name of Frank Sherman owned the building. The second floor was subleased to Scott Baddenolh.

Built as a Knights of Columbus dance hall in the early part of the century; later, an arcade. For 43 years pinball and shooting games took place in the 12,000 Sqft terrazzo floored space. The ‘Rifle Sport’ arcade was a staple of Block E. The block had a variety of stores and wares for the working class and those seeking a taste of adventure or illicit activity of a wide variety.

On either corner stood a Shinders; Stardust Adult Entertainment had the basement. There was Moby’s/Brady’s Bar, and the Best Steak House. Up above was the old arcade space along with 7 artists studios.

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Artists coming out of the walls

The first show opened in September of 1985. October was spent closed, rehabbing the space, and then reopened in November.After the second or third show, I’m not certain if Rifle Sport was even a gallery at this point, artists started to appear at the space wanting to show their work. People were also coming to talk. To talk to people who were working with art, who made art , who were living in art. What had happened was that Rifle Sport had appeared at the right place at the right time.

What was unique was the idea that anyone could show up, to see what was going on and end up with their work on the wall, the ceiling, the stairway, the roof....

And people were coming to talk. Minneapolis had had an awesome music scene going for a few years, 'zines were appearing more frequently,video was poking around, and everybody was a performance artist. The visual artists, sound makers and poets were beginning to come together. There was a great deal of creative energy going on and no real venue for gathering it all, or even attempting too. Then all of a sudden there is this place downtown that has amazing new artwork and artists around. And they’re people. You could talk to them.

There was a hunger for this kind of space. Arguably it can be said that if it wasn’t there it would have been somewhere else. If it hadn't have been these people, it would have been other people. This is always the case. These spaces and places are usually created by more than what is at face value. But it was there. And it was at Rifle Sport, at that particular point in time.

The following is from the introduction to the 1988 calender: "Rifle Sport, a commercial gallery, breaks fresh ground for artists. We provide a stimulating environment for artists to present their work as well as creative options and alternatives for a wide variety of art buyers and patrons. As curators we act as a liaison between these two groups and take responsibility for the coordination of the exhibition process from inception to completion.

"In organizing each show, we feature art which makes people think. We strive to stimulate, nurture, and encourage each artist in order to present the best work possible. Rifle Sport Gallery exhibits art which everyone can be excited and enthused about." -Colleen Barnett + Bill Taylor. 10-87

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