Posted by: Ann Treacy | December 28, 2012

Broadband boosts rural arts in Minnesota

brian frink artThanks to John Schultz for the heads up on this fun story on the power of social media in removing barriers for rural art. The City Pages recently featured their 2012 Artists of the Year – including Brian Frink in Mankato. They made special mention of his use of online marketing to reach new audiences…

A couple of years ago, Frink had an epiphany: With the advent of social media, artists don’t need to strike out for the coasts or big Midwestern metropolitan areas for cultural exposure anymore. By connecting with the larger art world and each other online, artists can now make a name for themselves, cross-pollinate ideas, and even garner critical attention if they have enough talent and hustle, and a bit of web savvy. And with a fast internet connection, artists can do so from any home base they choose. Serious-minded, country-mouse contemporary artists just needed a virtual watering hole, a place to network with one another and share ideas, he figured. So he created RACA (pronounced rawk-a), a Facebook group with the cheeky aim of “making nowhere into somewhere.”

Artists flocked to the group, and it quickly took off as a place for members to share artwork and common cause, in time becoming a real community in digital space, bringing together far-flung but like-minded artists across the country. Spurred by the enthusiastic groundswell of interest in the Facebook group (888 artist members strong at last count), Frink set up an eclectic offline exhibition last winter in the Arts Center of St. Peter, with enough accomplished talent on view to upend even the snootiest urbane preconceptions equating “rural artist” with farm kitsch. Then, over the summer, with the assistance of writer and Twin Cities-to-Mankato transplant Stephanie Wilbur Ash, Frink launched a flagship website for Rural America Contemporary Artists and a sharp, biannual art magazine, RACAonline, which just put out its inaugural issue last month. With entrepreneurial vision and follow-through, Frink is helping to realize the potential and untapped esprit de corps among artists who happen to work off of the usually urban art grid.


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