In the late 1970’s and early 80’s the Lowertown district of St. Paul had become a neighborhood of empty parking lots and abandoned warehouses quickly falling into disrepair. The affordability of the warehouse spaces attracted artists, and Lowertown quickly became the center of the St. Paul art scene. In 1977, a contingent of Lowertown artists founded the St. Paul Art Collective with the mission of protecting spaces for artists to create and increase the awareness of the crucial role that artist play in the greater cultural life of the Twin Cities.
The founding artists of the St. Paul Art Collective had their first group exhibition at the Union Depot. In the decade and a half that followed, the artists of the collective continued to hold loosely organized group events in and around downtown St. Paul. From 1981 to 1985, the collective also ran a critically acclaimed fine art gallery in Lowertown called the Wall St Gallery.