"How did you ever get the name Icebox?"
The first time the name Icebox was used was for
Icebox Studio. The name was inspired by an old refrigerator that
came with the space at 29 Glenwood Avenue in downtown Minneapolis. Howard Christopherson shared
the space and refrigerator with fellow artist Dan Havel, and
both artists adorned the old "Icebox" with a multitude of invitations, magazine
clippings and bizarre pictures. It became so adorned that the paper
was several inches thick, making it hard to recognize as a refrigerator.
The name Icebox Studio was invented some time around 1986.
Around that time, the old Century
Camera building that
housed Icebox Studio was vacated and torn down to make way for a
parking lot connected to the newly constructed Target Center. The
many artists with studios in the building were sent scrambling for
Howard and Dan discovered a dusty basement space
on Central Avenue in an area of N.E.Minneapolis they knew little
about. It was affordable and
unusual with a storefront doorway leading downstairs. It needed
a lot of clean-up and work. With the generous help of many friends
and after filling several dumpsters with dirt and debris, a studio
space began to emerge.
The original lower level space was nearly 3000 square
feet if you included the many closets, nooks and crannies.
walls were sheet-rocked, it was time to celebrate. Howard decided that
an exhibition would take place. Artist friends were assembled to create
what would become the first exhibit at the new location.The
title of the first show was Crystallized Phantoms,
which opened in January 1988. It was a show that explored
a variety of spiritual inspirations, in various media, created by eleven
participating artists. Christopherson suggested making a group collaboration
as a centerpiece for the show. Soon a mysterious and visually splendid
chessboard evolved as each artist made 3 chess pieces depicting a personal “phantom.” The
unique chessboard was amazing. It excited all of the participating
artists and the crowd that came to the show. Later that year the chessboard
was entered in the Minnesota State Fair as a group collaboration in
sculpture, and it was awarded First Place.
It was the Crystallized Phantoms
exhibit that led Howard to go into business.
after the show was taken down, Christopherson made his work-benches
that allowed him to make his quality picture frames. The official
retail beginning of business started on April 1st, 1988. Howard
always thought this date would allow him to explain a business
failure with a chuckle since it began officially on April Fools
Dan Havel eventually moved to Houston, TX. Howard now had the
ICEBOX space, but part of which remained sublet as a studio space
to Greg Ochs. Eventually the ever-evolving space would become
entirely ICEBOX Studio & Gallery, and later the name was
changed to ICEBOX Quality Framing & Gallery.
Gallery had exhibited more than 106 shows
by the time it was
twenty years old in 2008.
LINK HERE TO PAST GALLERY EXHIBITS
Many “Firsts” at Icebox Gallery:
Icebox has awarded solo and group shows for many artists over
the years. It has played an important role in providing early
career opportunities for many artists who have since gone on
to gain national and international reputations.
Icebox is the first fine art gallery to
be established in N.E. Minneapolis. Icebox is the first gallery
to receive a Que Award, awarded by the Mayor of Minneapolis
for Howard Christopherson’s
active role in establishing the very first Art-A-Whirl.
Crystallized Phantoms chessboard lead to the first group of
11 artists to receive Blue Ribbons for a single work of art in
the Minnesota State Fair.
The Erotic Edge 1 & 2 were the first
gallery group shows of erotic art in Minnesota.
The Darkside I-V were
the first haunted gallery exhibits of dark-themed artwork in
War and Peace exhibit
was the first group exhibit displaying artwork inspired by the
first gulf war, Desert Storm.
Love in 2001 is the first group exhibit dealing
with artist interpretations of love in Minnesota.
Young Bob, images by John Cohen, was the first
Minnesota gallery hosting of an exhibit devoted to native-son
Caught in the Act appears to be the first anywhere
exhibit devoted to photographic images of photographers photographed
in the act of making a photograph.
was the first Minnesota gallery to record and archive
most of it's past exhibits on this website.
In July of
2003 Icebox moved about one mile south of the original location to
the fourth floor of the Northrup King Building at 15th and Jackson
Beginning with a 1700 square foot space, Icebox became comfortable
in its new home. The gallery is well-lighted and custom designed
and built by Howard Christopherson. "Out of the Black and
Into the Blue" - a reversed lyric from Neil Young’s
song “Out of the Blue”, became the Icebox motto during
the move. Leaving the old space, black and cave-like, for a bright
fourth story "sky" gallery, the gallery walls are painted
in a combination of coastal blue and country cork with a white
ceiling. The building is safe, guarded 24 hours and well maintained.
People, Places & Dreams - Howard's darkroom is right next door.
During the summer of 2005 Icebox Gallery added a new gallery.
The gallery was 500 square feet and is located directly across the
hall from the original space. The “Box” Gallery, as
it was called became history winter of 2008 when the economy crashed. Icebox was forced to
give up the "Box Gallery" and continue to exhibit in the original space.
This huge red brick building was once the headquarters for the Northrup
King seed company. Now most of the building is leased to artists
and other creative businesses, making it the greatest concentration
of artists in the state of Minnesota. This area of NE Minneapolis
surrounding Icebox's building is designated by the city of Minneapolis
as the Fine Arts District.
We want to encourage you to come and see
hundreds of creative, hard-working artists making art in their studios
within this building. Twice a year all of the art studios in the Northrup
King Building open their doors to the public. Every May for "Art
- A - Whirl" the NE Minneapolis Studio & Gallery
Tour and again in November during "Art Attack" a
special Northrup King Building event.
Every Month, in the area now called the
Minneapolis Arts District, artists and galleries hold open houses
on the First Thursday evening from 5 until 9. This
is a good opportunity to leisurely sample the creativity this part
of Minneapolis has to offer.
Icebox Gallery has exhibited some of the most creative artists
and photographers in this part of the country.
In addition, Icebox
has exhibited outstanding artists from around the country and other
places in the world.
Icebox Quality Framing has earned a reputation for quality, creativity,
innovation and service since its humble beginnings.
Icebox has framed
pictures for Presidents, Governors, celebrities, corporate executives,
artists, individuals and museums.
Icebox developed its own line of
hand-finished hardwood frames that people love to collect.
Icebox added digital printing to better service it's customers in 2009.
the web presence of Icebox Quality Framing & Gallery.
The Icebox website
is attractive, informative and easily navigated. Iceboxminnesota.com
currently archives most exhibits.
iceboxminnesota.com is visited by
hundreds of new visitors from all
around the world each and every day.
In late 2009 Howard Christopherson took over the design and opperation of the website.
The future of Icebox is
in the hands of everyone involved, including the owner, the employees,
the casual visitors, the loyal customer, the creative
artists, the responding media, the local and web community.
Icebox has remained an independent sole proprietorship
fine art gallery
through many good and difficult periods since
it began in 1988.
It has existed this long because of the loyalty,
quality and energy of artists,
family, employees, art patrons and
Without the ongoing support of this special
Icebox could never have existed or lasted this many
Thank you for your continued interest and contributions.
I hope you enjoy the show.
- Howard M. Christopherson