Women's Art Registry of Minnesota
The Board

History of WARM

by WARM mentor, Alis Olsen

WARM emerged on the tide of feminism in the early 1970's. Inspired by a workshop with Judy Chicago in 1973, WARM was created by a group of women artists who began meeting in each other�s homes to discuss the new ideas they had been exposed to. Until then they had not publicly questioned their exclusion from the art world. The artists discussed Linda Nochlin's article "Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists", showed slides, and sent a group to the first national conference of women artists in Michigan.

They came home with the idea to open a women�s gallery. The consensus was that it should be a collective, with all women sharing in the work and the expenses, and having equal opportunity to decide policies and to exhibit. WARM began semi-officially in the art department at St. Catherine�s College, as a drawer for slides of women�s work. After several shows in different locations, the group began looking for a gallery space. In the Spring of 1976, they found a suitable space and after much hard work renovating the former wholesale showroom they opened in April with their forty members present all carrying red roses. 1500 people attended the opening!

Alice Giannobile, "Lake Dream"

Alice Giannobile, former Protégée, "Lake Dream"

The gallery had two floors where members took turns showing their art, individually or in groups. It was run by a consciousness-raising circle of discussion, with everyone expressing their views. This was inspiring but also could be frustrating. The gallery became a huge success with very popular openings and visiting lecturers such as Alice Neal, Marsha Tucker, Harmony Hammond, Lucy Lippard, and Robin Morgan. They published the WARM Journal monthly, including reviews of current shows and profiles of members. The Mentor program was begun, pairing beginning artists with experienced women in a relationship that lasted for two years.

After ten years, WARM had developed a national reputation, paid staff, and the expertise to hold a national conference on women in the arts. The conference drew participants and presenters from all over the U.S. While it was extremely successful, WARM was left with financial problems which they were not able to overcome and in 1991 the gallery closed.

WARM continued to operate out of offices, first on University Avenue and then in the Women's Consortium Building, both in St. Paul. They maintained their successful Mentor Program, an annual member exhibition and the summer art work-shops run through the MAX program. When funding for the MAX program was cut by Governor Tim Pawlenty in 2002, WARM became an all-volunteer run organization.

WARM maintains its acclaimed Mentor Program and monthly Fresh Art meetings. Under the direction of an activist volunteer Board, WARM is expanding member programs for 2004 and beyond. New opportunities for members include small rotating member exhibitions at three new sites, monthly WARM Coffee Networking meetings, and Art Partners, a pairing of artists at the same stages of career development who will support each other in achieving individual goals. WARM member artists are an inspired group of creative women who have set their sights high!

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