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One thing that’s struck me, writing on the St. Paul beat for Knight Arts, is that “Twin” Cities or no, there really is something quite distinct about the arts and cultural scenes on the Capitol City side of the Mississippi River. Consider the visual arts: While we have a handful of notable independent exhibition spaces, the art scene in St. Paul is dominated by university-run galleries. And these college-based spaces tend to emphasize regional artists and often operate under express community- and education-oriented missions, all of which gives a distinct, locally-rooted sort of flavor to the exhibitions you see around here through the season.

Craig Goodworth, “Liminal,” a site-specific, multimedia installation presented in the University Ave. pop-up gallery by Bethel University as part of the CAGC Fall Art Tour this year. Photo courtesy of Bethel University

This weekend’s College Art Gallery Collaborative’s Twin Cities Fall Art Tour is a perfect excuse to explore some of our city’s university-based art spaces in one fell swoop. Most of St. Paul’s college galleries are presenting work for the tour: Macalester College, College of Visual Arts, Hamline University, Bethel University, Northwestern College, Concordia College, Saint Catherine University. A couple of Minneapolis-based colleges are accounted for as well, including the University of Minnesota’s Katherine E. Nash Gallery, Minneapolis College of Art and Design and Augsburg College.

Art-hoppers are welcome to make the circuit on their own (via city trails on a Nice Ride bike, if you like). Or, this year they’re offering festival-goers free, guided bus tours through participating galleries. The bus tours look intriguing – music, food, meet-and-greet events with artists and curators. The bus tours are billed as family-friendly affairs, but the online schedule lists it as a four-hour trip, so I think I’ll leave the little ones at home.

The pop-up gallery will also feature a performance by Kjellgen Alkire, a professor of art & design at the St. Paul’s Northwestern College, titled “CityWork.” Alkire, who makes art about religiosity, rural life and belief, will be activating artworks with an alter ego: The Reverend Roughstock. Photo courtesy of Northwestern College

Of special note is the pop-up gallery slated for University Avenue, featuring a group show co-presented by Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Bethel University, and Northwestern College. The works on view will include a site-specific installation reflecting on the intersections of body, spirit and place by interdisciplinary artist Craig Goodworth, satirical performance art on religiosity in contemporary political, rural life by artist and educator Kjellgen Alkire, and film shorts by award-winning animator Tom Schroeder.

The College Art Gallery Collaborative’s ninth annual Fall Art Tour will take place this Saturday, October 6 from 1-5 p.m. The Pop-Up Art Gallery, co-presented by Bethel University, Northwestern College and Minneapolis College of Art and Design, will be located at 1955 University Ave., St. Paul on Saturday, October 6 for the duration of the CAGC Fall Art Tour. Find out more about the guided bus tours and routes (it’s free, but recommended that you reserve a spot), a full schedule of shows, maps and detailed information about the participating galleries online: https://sites.google.com/a/actc-mn.org/actc/cagc/tour.

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