The month of October was an important one for the latest addition to Duluth’s Historic Arts & Theater (HART) District, Joseph Nease Gallery, located at 23 West First Street. With a ribbon cutting on Wednesday the 18th, a private opening on Friday the 20th, and a well-attended public opening on Saturday the 21st, Joseph Nease unveiled his new show space for contemporary art. The inaugural exhibition, “Three States,” received a warm welcome both from the media and the burgeoning arts community the Gallery now joins.

Entitled “Sweep,” the Gallery’s second exhibition will open this February in two phases, with a private opening on February 9 and a public opening the following day. Whereas “Three States” features three artists who work in varying mediums, the upcoming exhibition will be a regional and national survey of nearly 20 contemporary painters. Installations will present new or recent

artwork by all of the painters currently represented by the Gallery, as well as other invited painters. Running the gamut from classical realism to hard-edged abstraction, the paintings displayed in “Sweep” will address the subjects of beauty, ethnicity, justice, history, spiritualism, landscape, and formalism. 

Mayor Emily Larson performed the ribbon cutting ceremony with the support of Duluth’s Greater Downtown Council and the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce. Attendees included Duluth Poet Laureate Sheila Packa, Publishers Weekly’s Midwest Correspondent Claire Kirch, Karen Anderson of The Playlist, and more local media representatives. 

“Art is more important than ever,” Mayor Larson stated at the ribbon cutting, “a beautiful mosaic that tells our stories” (Pioneer Productions, “Three States Reveals Aim of the New Joseph Nease Gallery,” October 19, 2017). Mayor Larson also commended the Neases’ (Joe and his wife, artist Karen Nease) decision to locate in downtown Duluth, asserting that the gallery’s presence will have a catalyzing impact on the district as a whole.

The private opening was attended by key members of the local arts scene, including Ken Bloom, Director of the University of Minnesota-Duluth’s Tweed Museum of Art, and David Salmela, renowned architect and Fellow, AIA. Also in attendance were artists now represented by Joseph Nease Gallery, including Iowa-based Matthew Kluber and Duluth-based Kathy McTavish, both of whom presented artwork as part of “Three States.” 

In featuring the work of multiple artists hailing from different Midwestern locales, “Three States” sets a precedent that future exhibitions will follow. In particular, the Gallery will facilitate an artistic exchange between the Twin Ports and Kansas City, where Joseph Nease, a civil engineer by profession, and his wife Karen, previously ran a contemporary art gallery from 1998 to 2003.

“I am excited to see a bridge to a new ‘sister city,’ Kansas City, through the gallery,” said McTavish. “Joe has a strong and distinctive curator’s voice. His gallery will add another facet to the area’s art scene.”

Appreciable media coverage of the Gallery’s opening was enthusiastic overall, especially in response to one of Nease’s missions to support the local creative community.

“Great artists need a great place to show their work,” stated Joseph Nease, as quoted by Business North (“Joseph Nease Gallery - Contemporary Art in the HART District,” Sept 14, 2017).

This support will take form, in part, through a planned outdoor “Minnesota Art Wall”, and through the actual sale of featured artwork. “Three States” will remain on display until January 6, 2018.

For further information please contact Joseph Nease Gallery Development Manager Jim Goodman by email at or by phone at 218.260.0483.