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Picture from Icebox History.

"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 other workspaces.

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.

After some 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.

Bayby Icebox Picture

It was the Crystallized Phantoms exhibit that led Howard to go into business.

Soon 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 Day.

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.


Icebox Gallery had exhibited more than 106 shows
by the time it was twenty years old in 2008.



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 Minnesota.

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 Bob Dylan.

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.

Icebox was the first Minnesota gallery to record and archive most of it's past exhibits on this website.

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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 Street NE.

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.

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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. is the web presence of Icebox Quality Framing & Gallery.

The Icebox website is attractive, informative and easily navigated. currently archives most exhibits.
Currently 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.


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The future of Icebox is in the hands of everyone involved, including the owner, the employees, the interns,
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 framing customers.

Without the ongoing support of this special community,
Icebox could never have existed or lasted this many years.

Thank you for your continued interest and contributions.

I hope you enjoy the show.
 - Howard M. Christopherson