Rhonda Silence

Talking art and history with Nita Anderson as Eight Broadway gallery closes

The Eight Broadway Gallery in downtown Grand Marais has been a fixture in the local art scene for 30 years, serving as an incubator of sorts for local artists. Co-owners Nita Anderson and Sandra Hyne are closing the gallery and considering new adventures.

Before the sturdy Eight Broadway door closed for the last time, WTIP’s Rhonda Silence stopped by to visit with co-owner Nita Anderson.

Nita shared some history of her hardworking family—her father, Ed Anderson, a commercial fisherman, and her mother, Lil Murphy Anderson, a woman who had her own businesses, baking and sewing, and more. Those entrepreneur enterprises included keeping baked goods safe from local wildlife.

Nita graduated from Cook County High School in 1961 and went off to college but she says, “I’m not a college person.”

She found a career in working with young people on the streets, in the inner city of Minneapolis. It was rewarding and she is still in touch with many of those people who she describes as her foster kids. But in her mid-30s, Nita realized it was not something she could do forever. It was then that she began experimenting as an artist.

She says she was a “total failure” in her first art class. But, the desire—the calling—to pursue art continued and she taught herself how to paint. And that calling to art led her to the idea of purchasing the Eight Broadway building—a former commercial laundry and clothing store. At a class reunion, she pitched the idea as a joke. Her classmate, Sandra Hyne, decided to join the adventure and the two women wrote a proposal for the building owner, Vi Wonser. They offered—and Vi accepted—a $500 down payment.

Still somewhat amazed that Vi took them up on the offer, Nita explains that was the start of the gallery which has been an incubator for probably more than 100 artists through the years. All of them like family to Nita.

WTIP’s Rhonda Silence visited with Nita to learn more about her ties to the community, her art, and the future. Here’s their conversation.