The Friends Lecture Series

Friends Lecture: Transforming Spaces for Artists and Communities

December 8th, 2022
11:00 a.m.
Pillsbury Auditorium

Across the United States, artist communities have revitalized and brought joy to towns, neighborhoods and cities. Since the 1980s, Minneapolis-based Artspace, America’s leading nonprofit real estate developer for the arts, has played an important role in promoting these transformations.

Artspace develops real estate in communities that want and need creative spaces – spaces that can also lead to fundamental social changes. With 56 projects in 35 cities, 22 states and 1 tribal nation, Artspace has given “brick and mortar” support to creative people of many disciplines. And by preserving and repurposing old buildings for sustainable, affordable live/work space for artists and arts organizations, Artspace supports culturally distinct communities and nurtures creative districts. Artspace also combines the tools of real estate with an understanding of the creative sector to provide technical assistance, feasibility and market research, and coaching services to assist arts and cultural organizations with unique space initiatives through their program initiatives and consulting services.

At the heart of this national organization’s “movement” are Kelley Lindquist, President and Tio Aiken, Vice President of Communications.

Since joining Artspace in 1987, Kelley Lindquist has grown this small non-profit organization to one of national significance. For over four decades he has advanced Artspace’s leadership to be deeply inclusive. With help from a team that currently includes 85 employees, he has expanded the organization’s reach to Native American and Native Hawaiian communities, Puerto Rican and Dominican communities in New York City, African American communities in Baltimore, Memphis and New Orleans, a Mexican American community in Texas and rural communities across Minnesota, Colorado, and other states. Of special note, he helped establish The Cowles Center for Dance & the Performing Arts in Minneapolis which showcases at least 50% BIPOC artists each season. Kelley’s innovative contributions have seen him honored with multiple awards and distinctions.

In concert with Mr. Lindquist is Tionenji (Tio) Aiken. She joined Artspace Projects in 2016 and has recently become the Vice President of communications. Using unique multi-format storytelling, she highlights Artspace’s diverse residential communities and partnerships nationally. Her background includes work with the Rafala Green Fellowship program, where she worked at the intersection of arts, real estate, and community development and trained the next generation of POCI leaders; this important effort was funded by the Ford Foundation. Tio is also a practicing poet, and a graduate of the University of Minnesota.

We look forward to sharing their story with you at this upcoming Friends lecture on December 8th at the Pillsbury auditorium at Mia at 11:00 a.m. Come early for coffee, treats, and conversation. See you there!

November lecture tickets are hot! Save the date for our December lecture

Mia’s special exhibition, Botticelli and Renaissance Florence: Masterworks from the Uffizi, is now underway! With all the interest and excitement about this show, the Friend’s November 10 lecture sold out quickly. It will feature Carl Strehlke, Curator emeritus at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Dr. Strehlke specializes in the Italian Renaissance and has written extensively on Botticelli, Fra Angelico, Masolino and Masaccio, and other Renaissance masters. In his lecture he will examine how the city of Florence, its art, literature, and people, shaped the art of Botticelli, and how Botticelli in turn created enduring imagery that shapes our view of Renaissance Florence. The lecture will be recorded and available to view at a later time.

For our December 8 lecture, we’re excited to welcome hometown innovators Kelly Lindquist and Tio Aiken. For over 35 years, Minneapolis-based Artspace Projects, Inc., has worked to bring life back to neglected properties nation-wide by transforming them into live/work spaces for low-income artists and their families. As president of Artspace, Kelley Lindquist has a passion for restoring national confidence in America’s creative communities. He works hand-in-hand with Vice President of Communications Tio Aiken to engage diverse residential communities in this mission.

Friends Members have early access to tickets on November 15, so plan to join us in December for what is sure to be an intriguing talk. Lectures start at 11:00 in the Pillsbury Auditorium, but plan to come anytime after 10:15 to enjoy coffee and light bites prior to taking your seat.

February Friends Lecture

February 10, 2022 11:00 am


Pillsbury Auditorium

Ticket Price: Free

Join us on February 10 at 11am when the Friends Lecture series welcomes Star Tribune theater critic Rohan Preston.

Please note: In accordance with the current City of Minneapolis mandate, Mia now requires all visitors ages 5 and older to show proof of full Covid-19 vaccination. Mia also requires all visitors to wear a mask.

A Life of Imagination: How an Immigrant Kid Found His Passion — and Freedom — in the Arts

Photo credit: Thomas John Wallace

Star Tribune theater critic Rohan Preston grew up with parents, both Jamaican immigrants, who were so fearful of 1970s and ‘80s New York, they forbade their children to just go “hang out.” Their fear was that their children would literally be eaten up by the concrete jungle. But the youngsters could go to the Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza, to various museums, and to live performances of music and theater, including Broadway. Preston overindulged, becoming a glutton for cultural knowledge and experience not just for aesthetic reasons but because paintings and books, music, opera and dance literally meant freedom, as his teenage mind perceived it. That experiential education gave him a foundation that he polished at Yale, where he studied English and critical theory, devising his own path to becoming both an appreciator and an arbiter of arts and culture.

Preston was born in Jamaica and grew up in Brooklyn, New York, where he attended an arts magnet high school. His fascination with the theater began in the 10th grade when he began writing plays and poetry. In college, in addition to his coursework, Preston wrote for a variety of student publications, which enabled him to develop a marketable skill. Following graduation, he and a friend moved to Chicago in the hope of launching careers as playwrights, but it was writing theater reviews that kept him afloat.  Freelance writing for the Chicago Tribune and as a stringer for The New York Times eventually led to full-time employment at the Tribune. He was recruited by the Minneapolis Star Tribune in 1998 to be the paper’s theater critic and has remained in the Twin Cities ever since.

Over his decades as a theater critic, Rohan Preston has interviewed a raft of luminary artists, including playwrights Arthur Miller, August Wilson, Edward Albee and Tony Kushner. He has the unique distinction of being an Emmy Award-winning critic, having led a Star Tribune team that won the coveted award for a documentary on the historic 2008 elections. Preston has twice served on the Pulitzer jury for drama. In addition to his journalistic pursuits, Preston continues to compose poetry, write plays and take photographs, and loves to till the soil at home with his wife, poet Angela Shannon, and, when they visit, their two adult daughters.

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October Friends Lecture 

October 14, 2021 11:00 am



Ticket Price: Free

Join us on October 14 at 11am for a virtual discussion provided by the Friends of Mia with special guest speakers, husband and wife duo Aaron Spangler and Amy Thielen.

The term power couple applies aptly to Amy Thielen and Aaron Spangler. Individually, Thielen is an award winning food writer, chef and television cook, Spangler a celebrated visual artist focusing on print and sculpture. Together they find common ground in Amy’s extensive garden and at the cabin Aaron built himself in rural Park Rapids, Minnesota.

Amy’s love of cooking began in Park Rapids and her chef’s resume bursts with flavor. Not only does she have experience working with many renowned chefs, she also brought her Northern Minnesota roots to the Food Network as the host of Heartland Table. Her first cookbook published in 2013, New Midwestern Table, won the James Beard Book Award for American Cooking. Her follow up memoir Give a Girl a Knife earned raves from publications like The Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal. She continues to write and edit for numerous food publications and general interest media others like Oprah Magazine, People, and The Boston Globe and is a contributing editor to Saveur Magazine.

Aaron Spangler

While Thielen is well versed in culinary art practices, Spangler caters to an art of his own. Revered by many, he has received grants and fellowships from the McKnight Foundation, the Minnesota State Arts Board, and the Jerome Foundation. Since 1998 his work has been the subject of many national and international exhibitions, including solo shows in galleries in New York and Berlin, and group exhibitions at the Van Abbermuseum, the Netherlands, SECCA Museum in North Carolina, The Walker Art Center, and Takashi Murakami, among others.  Many Mia visitors are familiar with Spangler’s large bas-relief Songbird.  (pictured)

Spangler’s large woodcut prints made in collaboration with master printer Cole Rodgers and Highpoint Editions staff can be seen in the upcoming exhibition, The Contemporary Print: 20 Years at Highpoint Editions, on view October 9, 2021 – January 9, 2022.

Together this couple provides no shortage of inspiration and these speakers may just leave you hungry for more.

Connect with Amy: @amyrosethielen on Instagram and Twitter.  Amy’s memoir, Give a Girl a Knife, is currently available through Mia’s online store. You can purchase a copy by clicking here.

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Dessa – In Her Own Words

September 9, 2021 11:00 am



Ticket Price: Free

2021-2022 Friends Kick-Off Lecture, Thursday Sept. 9, 11:00 a.m. CST via Zoom

Dessa is a rapper, singer, writer and member of the Minneapolis-based hip-hop collective Doomtree. Dessa has been on the Billboard charts and has performed with the Minnesota Orchestra, VocalEssence (a premier choral music organization) and contributed to the #1 album, The Hamilton Mixtape. Showcasing her creative chops, she released during the first half of 2021 a series of singles called IDES on the 15th of each month. About the fifth installation, “Talking Business,” Dessa said, “I wanted to make a song that unfolded like a little film where the plot was revealed in a series of objects and still images…To try to build a story in a flash of snapshots, I wrote a song without using any verbs.” 

Yes, Dessa is an inventive musician–and she is also a consummate communicator about a wide range of topics including art, science and entrepreneurship. 

Her wit and candor are revealed in keynote speeches, NPR broadcasts, and a podcast that she hosts entitled “Deeply Human.” She’s written articles for the New York Times and National Geographic Traveler and published a memoir in essays, My Own Devices in 2018. During the pandemic year, Dessa released a clever lyric video about Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. 

She’s even given a TED Talk about the brains of people in love and how she worked with a neuroscientist to get out of love.

In short, Dessa is hard to define but infinitely interesting!

You don’t want to miss this exclusive virtual event. Friends members have access to presale tickets starting on August 16 and tickets are limited.

To reserve your free tickets and receive the Zoom link, go to or call 612-870-3000.


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The February lecture features Whitney curator Marcela Guerrero

February 21, 2021 11:00 am



Ticket Price: Free

“Latinx Art: An American Artistic Force”

Marcela Guerrero

Join us as we welcome Marcela Guerrero, Assistant Curator at the Whitney Museum in New York, as she presents Latinx Art: An American Artistic Force. Dr. Guerrero was born and raised in Puerto Rico. She received her BA from the University of Puerto Rico and holds a Ph.D. in Art History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Her passion for major movements in Latin American art, including the muralists and artists such as “Los Tres Grandes,” Diego Rivera, Alfaro Siqueiros, and José Clemente Orozco led her to help organize the exhibition: Vida Americana: Mexican Muralists Remake American Art, 1925-1945, now on display at the Whitney Museum. 

The exhibition, demonstrating the cross-cultural exchange that came to influence artists of the period, including Thomas Hart Benton, Philip Guston, and Jackson Pollock, makes a case for the idea of a pan-American art (bridging North and South American cultures). 

Guerrero also worked previously as a Curatorial Fellow at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, where she assisted in a ground-breaking 2017 exhibition called Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960-1985. highlighting Latin American and Latinx art in Los Angeles and elsewhere in Southern California. 

With an awareness of systemic inequalities, Guerrero has stated, “It is not so much a mark that I would like to leave in the art world.  I would be happy to just push the art world, at least in the U.S., to be more of a reflection of the people who are right outside the steps of our institutions.” 

Like the rest of us, Dr. Guerrero is not traveling in this time of pandemic.  But what a wonderful opportunity we have to get a taste of the remarkable Latin American art she brings to us virtually on February 11th.  You won’t want to miss it.

Reserve your tickets online, or by calling 612-870-3000.

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Friends Lecture Series: Father Columba Stewart

November 12, 2020 11:00 am



Ticket Price: Free

Learn about the preservation work of ancient manuscripts around the world at risk of being destroyed by war, disaster, looting and neglect. 

Please join us for a fascinating lecture by Father Columba Stewart, Benedictine monk and Executive Director of the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library (HMML) at St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota. Fr. Steward will talk about his team’s work digitally preserving ancient manuscripts of diverse world cultures and religions at risk of being destroyed by war, disaster, looting, and neglect. 

Since its founding in 1965, HMML has worked with libraries in more than 20 countries to photograph historic manuscripts in dozens of languages. Some of the original manuscripts were later destroyed, stolen, lost, or moved for safekeeping. The library now holds the largest on-line collection of manuscripts in the world and makes them available on vHMML Reading Room, an on-line environment for manuscript studies.

Upon becoming Executive Director of HMML in 2003, Father Columba embarked upon extensive travels throughout the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and India to establish working relationships with communities possessing manuscript collections dating from the early medieval period to modern times. Since then, HMML has digitized manuscripts from some of the world’s most dangerous and inaccessible places. Father Columba and his team accomplish this by working with local leaders to photograph manuscripts, “to ensure that their deposits of wisdom, their libraries of handwritten texts, the voices of their past, can join the global conversations of the digital era.”  

Tickets are available October 15 for Friends members and October 17 for the general public. Please visit or call 612-870-3000 to reserve.


Save the date for March lecture

March 12, 2020 11:00 am


Pillsbury Auditorium

Ticket Price: Free

Save the date for Lisa Michaux and “Mary Cassatt, Berthe Morisot, and Marie Bracquemond and the Impressionist Exhibitions.”

Revolutionary opportunities, the French Salon, and slanderous art critics—oh my!

Life as an artist was a challenge for women in late 19th-century France. Banned from studying at the prestigious École des Beaux-Arts until 1897, women had to find other means of artistic instruction. Rigid social conventions made it impossible for respectable women like Cassatt or Morisot to meet with male artists at a café to discuss art and ideas. They had to be resourceful in making their voices heard and choosing subject matter that was modern, but also available to them. This lecture will examine the women of the Impressionist exhibitions and allow us to gain a greater understanding of the social and historical factors at play at the end of the 19th century in France.

Lisa Michaux was a curator in Mia’s Prints and Drawings department from 1990 to 2010 and is now a private art consultant and dealer. She divides her time between Paris and Minnesota and loves all things French, despite her inability to master the language. Join us in welcoming her back to Mia!

Reserve your ticket through the link below or by calling 612.870.6323.

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The Friends Welcome Artist Tiffany Chung

January 9, 2020 11:00 am


Pillsbury Auditorium

Ticket Price: Free

Tiffany Chung will speak on  “Remapping Histories: Wars, Embattled Sites, and Forced Migration” at the January Friends Lecture.

Through her poetic writing, Tiffany Chung’s lecture performance will examine the intersection of her artistic practice and academic discourse, which spans across many disciplines and mediums. Chung will delve into her research materials and process behind her cartographic and multi-media installation work that unpack the legacies of the Vietnam War, other Cold War conflicts, recent geopolitical upheavals worldwide, and the resulting migrations from the global south. Interweaving ordinary people’s memories with official accounts and international policies, her work foregrounds voices of those being displaced and creates interventions into the spatial and political narratives produced through statecraft.

An internationally active artist, Chung has participated in more than 100 exhibitions and biennials on five continents. “Tiffany Chung: Vietnam, Past is Prologue,” her first major solo museum exhibition in the United States, ran March 15–September 2, 2019, at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in conjunction with “Artists Respond: American Art and the Vietnam War, 1965-1975.”

Reserve your ticket today by following the link below or by calling 612.870.6323.

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February Mark and Mary Goff Fiterman Lecture Announced

February 13, 2020 11:00 am


Pillsbury Auditorium

Ticket Price: Free

Naima J. Keith to discuss curating and the museum of the future

Naima Keith Mia

Naima J. Keith, the new Vice President of Education and Public Programs at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) will be presenting “Deep Dives into Curatorial and Educational Approaches” at our February lecture

In her previous role as Deputy Director and Chief Curator of the California African American Museum (CAAM), Keith was instrumental in transforming the institution into a vibrant art center and reflection of Los Angeles cultural life. During her three year tenure she doubled guest visits by engaging new and diverse audiences. She also served as associate curator at the Studio Museum in Harlem from 2011-16.

At LACMA, Keith and her team are evaluating ways to better serve a wider population of children and families. She is especially determined to make art museums a more welcoming place for people of color, women, and working moms. LACMA director Michael Govan says, “She takes risks and has a unique ability to consider ideas from multiple perspectives. Her resourcefulness in engaging diverse and evolving communities with art is crucial not only to LACMA, but to moving the entire field forward.”

Considered a Los Angeles art luminary, Keith is a proud native and grew up surrounded by art—both her parents are collectors—but she was not immediately smitten. Her memories of museums are typical of lots of people. “My mom basically dragging me and my sister along,” she says. She initially studied economics in college but eventually discovered her creative passion and went on to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Art History from Spelman College, followed by a Masters in Contemporary Art at UCLA.

Her historical survey, Charles Gaines: Gridwork 1974–1989 (2014), traveled to the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles spring 2015 and was nominated in 2014 for a “Best Monographic Museum Show in New York” award by the International Association of Art Critics (AICA-USA). In 2017, Naima Keith received the 13th David C. Driskell prize to honor her contributions to the field of African American art and art history.

Keith is also co-curating Prospect.5, New Orleans’ Contemporary Arts Triennial, opening in fall 2020. Originating as an experiment to welcome the contemporary art world to New Orleans, this Prospect.5 cycle celebrates the organization’s 10th anniversary and the 15th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

Reserve your ticket today by following the link below or by calling 612.870.6323.

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