West Bank Social Center ‘powerhouse’ of MPLS cultural cell

Both ambiguous and unpredictable, WBSC is harboring the strangest cultural events in the city.

Mark Brenden

Those attempting to put a finger on the specific mission of the West Bank Social Center may instead find themselves using that finger to scratch their noggins in befuddlement. “Unpredictable things are happeningâÄù proclaims the website for what has become both the nucleus and the mitochondrion to the cultural cell that is the West Bank. That’s because the Center, located above Nomad World Pub and organized by five artsy keyholders, is defined as a âÄúcommunity spaceâÄù âÄî a term whose definition has yet to be fleshed out. So what are those hipsters doing inside those strange walls? The idea for such a Warholian Warehouse/European community center amalgamation was birthed in ambiguity. âÄúWe didn’t start out with a mission statement. If we had a mission, it was to find out what our mission was,âÄù co-keyholder Shanai Matteson said. Matteson, along with fellow University of Minnesota alumnus and boyfriend Colin Kloecker and local artists Miranda Trimmier, Troy Gallas and University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate Andy Dayton, are the âÄúkeyholdersâÄù of the place in that they facilitate events. These keepers of the keys were influenced by social centers around the region and the success of their monthly âÄúlive magazine,âÄù Salon Saloon, held at Nomad World Pub, where artists of myriad mediums would impart the stories and processes behind their art to interactive audiences. When the apartment building above the pub went up for rent, the five artists jumped at the chance to expand their idea, got out their hammers and mops and turned the old apartment into an artistic sanctuary. âÄú[These spaces] are places to meet and work and do projects, but they are always shaped by who is around and what they are doing and what resources are available. So the idea was to test the waters, see what people are interested in and go from there,âÄù Trimmier said. Essentially, the center is intended to establish Minneapolis as a force to be reckoned with in the spectrum of cultural cities by providing a haven for creativity to thrive. Matteson said that she has seen many of her friends leave the Minneapolis scene to sniff out more âÄúhappeningâÄù cities, and she thought, âÄúWhy not just help create a scene right here?âÄù âÄúThe project is ultimately about encouraging the kind of creative community that we want to be a part of,âÄù Trimmier said. What kind of creativity has ensued? There has been everything from a wacky 100-course meal to sidewalk dances to open personality tests to âÄúrent parties,âÄù where donations received from a private party help pay for the space. Every month the center also holds a praxis, and an artist comes in to share their work. Also, anyone can come to the Coffee Klatches held at 1 p.m. every Tuesday. These Klatches are a forum for folks to share art and stories, drink coffee, mingle, peep the spacious abode, use Wi-Fi or just be artistic. Visitors of legal age can get drinks from Nomad World Pub downstairs, and youngsters can enjoy the festivities through their sober goggles. But why West Bank? Matteson said that she was enthralled by the West Bank’s âÄúfascinating cultural history,âÄù its lack of corporate influence and its convenient proximity to the University, thus youth and the resounding presence of the nearby Bedlam Theater. The West Bank Social Center is taking the noble initiative of driving and creating culture in the Minneapolis community, and so far, succeeding. When they started the center, the founders hoped their rent parties would scrape together enough cash to cover their bills. Judging by the flooded attendance of the most recent one, their landlord should be happy. Future events include: -Sept. 10 âÄî Presentation and Discussions on Creatively Handling the Housing Crisis, 7 p.m. – Sept. 15 âÄî Art Shanty, 6 p.m. – Sept. 16 âÄî FRESH movie screening, a film about Americans reinventing our food system, 7 p.m. – Sept. 21 âÄî Open meeting for Architecture for Humanity, 6 p.m. – Sept. 22 âÄî MNKINO, 8 p.m.