Bringing the Arts to Saint Paul.

East Side Arts Council's mission is to collaborate with our community and artists to celebrate and experience the arts.

We offer free and accessible arts programming for all on the East Side

Currently On View:

Transitions: Payne Avenue, Portrait of a Community

On display through January 2019

By Stephan Kistler

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Gallery Hours 9am-3pm Monday through Friday

977 Payne Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55130

In addition to the main exhibit at East Side Arts Council, there are smaller collections of photographs featured in a number of businesses up and down Payne Avenue. We encourage you to take a walking tour of the work and experience all that Payne Avenue has to offer, including the award winning businesses Caydence Records and Coffee, our neighbor Tongue in Cheek, and Morelli's Market. Be sure to also check out East Side gems Cook, Brunson's Pub, East Side Pizzeria, Bymore Tacqueria, Eastside Thai, and the newly opened Cookie Cart!

“Black and white provides an additional level of abstraction that requires a focus on other things — the story, the composition, the light. It kind of maximizes that, while taking away the distraction of color.”

Read the full article HERE

The setting is Payne Avenue in St. Paul, a neighborhood that had once been a thriving commercial center and community within a larger city, and still retains that sense of ‘Main Street’ in a smaller town. Immigrants from Sweden and Italy had established the neighborhood. Today, a rich mix of ethnic groups, and more recent immigrants, favor Payne Avenue as their home, work place, and commerce destination. The Avenue has endured a number of economic setbacks due to major plant closings nearby and, on the surface, shows many signs of its challenges. However, there is also a distinct sense of energy bringing about change and revival. It was that promise of imminent transformation that motivated St. Paul photographer Stephan Kistler to go out with his camera, starting out in the middle of this past winter, to probe a bit deeper.

Stephan's movement along Payne Avenue stirred up a broad range of individuals who were open to sharing a bit of their story – and a fleeting glimpse into their minds and hearts. Stories of individuals who are seeing their traditional trade swept up by modern times and trends; up-and-coming entrepreneurs who are establishing new businesses and creating new opportunities; employees who are working in jobs old and new; patrons of the many dining, shopping, service and entertainment opportunities; residents and visitors who are walking out on the avenue; community leaders who are committed to enable and create more prosperity; and young people imagining a better future, and pushing for change.

The faces and scenes assemble into a portrait of a community, providing unique insights into the social fabric of the Payne Avenue neighborhood. The many transitions are written into the photographs and their stories of its people, businesses and buildings. The contemporary images are straight up, honest and probing, with a caring and compassionate intention: to inspire viewers to become agents and enablers of positive transitions. 


About the Artist:

Stephan F. Kistler is a photographer who lives in St. Paul. His goal in photography is to create a visceral, personal point of view that helps others see their surroundings, neighbors, and themselves in a new and enriched way – and, where possible, challenges the viewer to gain a fresh perspective on key issues and challenges that our society and environment faces. He currently focuses on street and environmental portraits of individuals and communities in urban settings, looking to tell stories about these people and their neighborhoods that might go untold or forgotten without the unique connection and moment that a camera lens can create and capture.

Stephan has had a life-long interest in the visual arts, especially photography and architecture. He was an avid photographer during his teen and college years in his native Switzerland but pursued a career in science and engineering that pushed his creative endeavors in other directions, and left only limited amounts of time for serious artistic aspirations. Stephan recently retired from 3M, where he last served as a Technical Director, managing a research laboratory focused on innovation and new product incubation. He is still working as a consultant and mentor to innovators and entrepreneurs but he now has the freedom to reinvigorate his passion for photography.

Stephan does not have any formal education in photography or the arts. However, in recent years, he was able to draw guidance, insights and challenges for a new trajectory of learning and discovery from a number of outstanding and most generous photographers who are conducting workshops at the Santa Fe School of Photography, the Minneapolis Photo Center, and Madeline Island School of the Arts.


Student work from Miriam Stoner’s after school visual arts class

Student work from Miriam Stoner’s after school visual arts class

Student work from Senior visual arts class taught by Tamina Muhammad

Student work from Senior visual arts class taught by Tamina Muhammad

East Side Arts Council  by Diane Michele May

East Side Arts Council by Diane Michele May

          AFTER SCHOOL Arts                  CREATIVE CONNECTIONS                 Our Payne Ave Gallery

                                                             for Seniors 55+                        

All East Side Arts Council programming is held at sites that comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. If you have specific accessibility requests, please contact us at 651-774-5422.



This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.