REVIEW: Colin Matthes: Instructional and Flood Resistant Work

One of the curses of contemporary art is that too many artists, and viewers believe that irony – the ironic gesture, the ironic moment, the ironic image or thing – is a doppelganger for ideas, content and technical skill. Worse yet, irony functions too often as a surrogate for meaning, even quality- those abstract notions where ideas, materials and skill merge to create a resolved work of art. In Colin Matthes: Instructional and Flood Resistant Work, the Milwaukee-based artist largely avoids these pitfalls by employing irony more as an existential platform from which to respond to today’s social climate, rather than as an endgame unto itself. More a comprehensive installation than a show of discrete works, Instructional takes as its starting point the notion that most of us act as if all is well with our world, and that we are immune to all of the global trauma. After all, our lifestyle is too sophisticated and too propped up by technology for us to need basic survival skills. Continue Reading

Phillips neighbors oppose new Water Yard site

People in the Phillips neighborhoods of Minneapolis are incensed about a new proposed water-maintenance site (or, a water yard) they say will add to the pollution of the area. Seeing little promise of new jobs from the new site, neighbors will be packing the Ways and Means committee meeting of the City Council on Monday to urge council members to vote no on allowing city staff to enter into negotiations over purchasing the property. “Phillips has been dumping grounds and forget-me-nots of polluters for several years now,” says Jose Luis Villasenor, the Executive Director of the local nonprofit Tamales y Bicicletas. He’s been a resident of East Phillips for 19-20 years. “We have been working with the community and local stakeholders about how to get rid of the polluters.”

The community group East Phillips Improvement Coalition (EPIC) had two realizations when it came to the site, Villasenor said. Continue Reading

Heated Debate Over Low-Level Crimes Continues in Minneapolis

Minneapolis repealed the long-standing lurking and spitting ordinances on a 12-1 vote, with only Northside Council President Barb Johnson voting against the repeal. But for Nekima Levy-Pounds, the newly elected head of the Minneapolis NAACP, Johnson’s comments during the Council debate point to troubling assumptions.

“People who were present found her comments to be offensive,” Levy-Pounds, a law professor at the University of St. Thomas, told me this week. “She inferred a couple of things that gave a racial aspect to some of the crime happening on the north side.”

As the ACLU report, entitled “Picking up The Pieces: A Minneapolis Case Study”, clearly shows, lurking and spitting are not the only crimes that unequally impact people of color.

Stay tuned. This conversation is just beginning. Continue Reading

Commission recommends Dinkytown for heritage preservation

While agreeing that Dinkytown should continue to grow and change, the Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission unanimously recommended on June 9 that most of the four-block business district be designated for historic preservation. The HPC decision came after hearing about two hours of testimony, some of it impassioned on both sides, but most of it in support of the plan to try to preserve the character of the small business district adjacent to the University of Minnesota in Southeast Minneapolis. About 20 people testified, raising first principles, such as the balance between free enterprise and urban planning and questions like what is history, what can be preserved, and what is Dinkytown. HPC’s action is a recommendation to the Minneapolis City Council, whose zoning and planning committee will take up the plan at 9:30 a.m. on June 25, and the full Council could vote on it at its July 10 meeting. If the HPC had rejected the plan, it would not have gone to the Council. Continue Reading

Award winning Coastal Seafoods draws customers from everywhere

It’s Thursday afternoon and the customers keep coming through the door of Coastal Seafoods in the Seward neighborhood of South Minneapolis, lining up in the tiny store to make their selections. “It’s our busiest day,” says assistant manager Hazel Lauer. “It’s whole fish and salmon discount day. We have a lot of customers from cultures that aren’t Minnesota Hot Dish. They like whole fish rather than just boneless filets.”

She holds up two large, spiny, black sea urchins, the most exotic thing in the store, she says. Continue Reading

Minnesota Senate Building nears halfway point

The Minnesota Senate Building, nearly half completed and almost closed in, should be open by the end of the year, according to the Senate’s project manager, Vic Thorstenson, on an exclusive tour that included the Daily Planet on Friday, May 22. “The Republicans got a lot of mileage – and maybe picked up a few seats – by attacking  this project,” Thorstenson said, “but they’re happy to be moving into updated offices.”

Thorstenson and Greg Huber, project manager for Mortenson Construction, led about a dozen Senate staffers and Sen. Sandy Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, on the tour of the controversial building site. Standing in a future hall in front of soon-to-be locker rooms, Thorstenson said, the locker rooms are for people who run, walk or bicycle to work or want to change for other reasons. “We have no work-out rooms or reflecting pools,” he said in response to charges from critics about the building’s original design and price tag. Continue Reading

First Open Streets Event of 2015 Kicks, Peddles, and Skates off Summer

The pavement of Lyndale Avenue was packed with bikes, skateboards, rollerblades, strollers, wheelchairs, and feet of all ages this Sunday during the first Open Streets Minneapolis event of the year. The Lyndale event also included activities along the avenue for people of all ages, including art projects, games, music stages featuring local artists, BMX and skateboard competitions, a bouncy house, and a pop-up theater. Continue Reading

Taking back the street: Lyndale Open Streets is car-free, movement-heavy

If it’s a summer weekend, there must be a street fair – a chance to buy crafts, eat from food trucks, and engage in the great warm-weather sport of people watching. Street fairs, as enjoyable as they are, are all pretty much the same, right?

Not according to Alex Tsatsoulis of the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition (MBC), which has put on the Open Streets Minneapolis events for the past five years. The 2015 season will feature eight of them, beginning on Sunday with Lyndale Open Streets. Lyndale is the largest and oldest of the Open Streets Minneapolis events, and is billed as a way for the community to experience “car-free fun.”

The inspiration for the Open Streets movement, which has spread across the U.S., is the ciclovias (literal translation: cycleways) which began in Bogota, Colombia, more than forty years ago. Every Sunday and major holidays, 75 miles of main thoroughfares are closed to motor vehicles so that they can be used by an estimated two million bicyclists, skaters, runners and walkers each week.

And like the ciclovias, Lyndale Open Streets participants will bike, skateboard, run, walk, and rollerskate; there will be dancing and yoga and exercise routines – in short, lots more movement than you’d expend in your car. “Most of the Open Streets draw about 5,000 people. Lyndale draws about 15,000,” Tsatsoulis said.

Lyndale Open Streets will span 20 blocks, from West 22nd to West 42nd, and will run from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. “Lyndale Open Streets brings people together to meet their neighbors,” said Larry Ludeman, co-president of the Lyn-Lake Business Association. “Besides people biking, it’s a great way for everyone to take back the street.” Continue Reading

Speaking truth to power: Parents, teachers and students rally against cuts to Saint Paul schools

On Monday, June 1st, an hour after word began to spread of movement in the K-12 education budget stalemate between Governor Dayton and Republican legislators, the St. Paul Federation of Teachers sponsored a rally protesting potential layoffs of teachers, educational assistants, counselors and other staff, some of whom have already received pink slips. Parents, students, teachers and an elementary school principal spoke truth to power: members of the St. Paul legislative delegation, who sat in the front row of the auditorium at St. Paul Central High School. In attendance were State Representatives Erin Murphy, Dave Pinto, Rena Moran, Carlos Mariani, John Lesch, Sheldon Johnson and State Senators Dick Cohen and Sandy Pappas. Members of the St. Paul delegation not in attendance were State Representatives Alice Hausman and Tim Mahoney and State Senators John Marty and Foung Hawj. Continue Reading