Neighborhood podcast highlights artists in A-Mill

Steve Stokowski started ‘Artists @ A-Mill’ to showcase the artists living in his building

Steve Stokowski interviews artist Michael Johnson for his podcast

Maddy Fox / Minnesota Daily

Steve Stokowski interviews artist Michael Johnson for his podcast “Artists @ A-Mill” at the A-Mill Artist Lofts on Oct. 13, 2016.

Eliana Schreiber

After moving into the A-Mill artist lofts a year ago, one tenant wanted a way to explore and document the work of his neighbors.

To do this, Steve Stokowski created “Artists @ A-Mill,” a podcast where he interviews artists living at the historic lofts to document their stories and projects.

Stokowski, an avid podcast fan, said he wanted to start his own podcast to familiarize himself with the artist community he lives in.

He said he hopes the podcast will showcase the working artists who live in his building. Stokowski said he eventually will include other people from the surrounding area as well.

Stokowski tried to fund the project with a number of public and private grants, but forged ahead on his own when his requests were turned down. Now, he said he’s determined to continue the podcast regardless and tries to reach artists over a wide range of age, gender and art media.

Stokowski wants the podcast to serve as an insider’s view into the artist’s creative process.

From start to finish, each episode takes roughly eight hours to complete.

“I don’t need specific questions because I really know where we’re going to go,” he said. “A lot of it is dependent on the spontaneity of the person who is being interviewed.”

Renee Faucher, a chef featured in a recent episode of the podcast, said Stokowski is keenly interested in other people and their creativity.

“I think he’s so good at this,” Faucher said.

Artists like her are naturally introverted, she said, and Stokowski’s podcast lets them share their stories and think differently about their work.

Faucher said she loved listening to the other podcasts to learn more about the people in her building.

JoDee Schumer, a fiber and textile artist, said the podcast helps people in the building connect and support each other.

“It opens the door to different kinds of friendships,” Schumer said.

Nedra Granquist, a weaver, said she’d never heard of a podcast before Stokowski approached her.

Nevertheless, Granquist said she felt honored to be asked to record an episode and felt it was a chance to describe the history of her work.

“It was stuff I hadn’t thought of putting into words,” she said.

Granquist, who has lived in the A-Mill for the past 10 years, said the podcast also serves as a history for the people living within the historic building.

Michael Johnson, a community artist and painter, said this documentation is important because the A-Mill never housed people before the lofts opened.

Johnson said the podcast could serve as a reminder that artists lived in A-Mill, even if they all eventually leave.

“It brings this building to life,” he said

Stokowski said pursuing the podcast made him realize how similar people are.

“I do think essentially people are the same,” he said. “We [just] have different methods we go about doing what we do.”

Stokowski said while the podcast still has a small reach, he has received positive feedback from dedicated listeners in the community.“I’m enjoying what I’m doing,” he said. “I can’t be measured by other people.”