Cultivating a community: FLOW Northside Arts Crawl

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On the corner of Broadway and Penn, hung against the wall of the building once home to Delisi’s Restaurant, hangs a piece by North Minneapolis artist Charles Caldwell titled Our Struggles. The work, which measures 20×40, was commissioned by the city and constructed in such a manner that it could be taken down and relocated. It features six African-American men working together to pull up a monumental structure, which has either been tipped over or is being constructed. Although the building has been abandoned for at least eight years, plans for a renovation are in the works, and Caldwell’s work will soon find a new home.

Caldwell will be among the 200+ visual artists exhibiting at the fourth annual FLOW: Northside Arts Crawl, held from 3-8 p.m. on Saturday, July 25. Caldwell has exhibited at the festival every year, and encourages those outside of North Minneapolis to take part in the event.

“It’s a great look inside North Minneapolis,” Caldwell says. “A lot of the people we’d like to see come here have a fear factor. The past four years have been an organization of peace. It’s been a nice experience for the people who participated, and a great opportunity to have people become a part of the positive experience.”

The art crawl sprawls along West Broadway Avenue from just before the intersection with Penn and all the way down to I-94. The event is put on by the Peace Foundation, and it’s sponsored by the Northside Arts Collective and the West Broadway Business and Area Coalition.

There are three main clusters of spaces in the crawl: at Penn, Emerson, and Lyndale Avenues, with stages set up at each, hosting a variety of hip-hop, dance, and drum performances, a hip hop worship series, and even a talent show. Broadway Liquor Outlet will be hosting beer tastings for a big stretch of the event, and Merwin’s will be offering wine tastings at the opposite end of the crawl. The Capri Theater will screen films and host a collaborative performance by spoken word artist Tish Jones and filmmaker Rachel Raimist. The Lundstrom Center for the Performing Arts will host workshops and a three-act play titled Raymond In Space. Tours of the original Minneapolis Public Library will be conducted, in addition to many other events.

Caldwell’s exhibit, in the parking lot of the Fourth Street Saloon, will be the final stop before art-crawlers hit I-94. The artist was among five selected this year by the McKnight Foundation to paint murals on business façades along West Broadway. Caldwell will begin the mural in a few weeks; it will have a jazz theme and will appear on the saloon façade facing the freeway. The artist will have a canvas version of the mural and other works on display at the crawl. Caldwell’s son Kenneth and daughter Charnaah, both artists, will collaborate on the mural. They will also exhibit their own work at FLOW.

As a resident of North Minneapolis for 38 years, Caldwell sees his neighborhood as being in desperate need of renovation and development. He says that the experience of helping out in that process, in addition to contributing to West Broadway’s flourishing arts community, has been a rewarding experience.

“It’s about the nurturing and cultivating the area, and that’s what I’m excited about,” says Caldwell. “I’m contributing to the cultivating and nurturing of the people in this community.”

Crystal Erickson (toffee_rox@hotmail.com) is a freelance writer and photographer, with preoccupations in hip-hop, art, and bicycle anarchy.

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