In the last year, East Lake Street has seen a swell of ‘Open’ signs replace ‘For Lease’ signs in the windows of many of the once-abandoned buildings. Despite the growing number of bright spots, there are still some areas that remain dark. It’s in these spaces that writer and artist Andy Sturdevant sees a multitude of possibilities.
“Most of the buildings on the strip — built in the ’10s and ’20s — are pretty well-built, attractive, and easy to interact with from the sidewalk,” commented Sturdevant. “You can imagine walking into any of them and finding a small business. There’s such a great mix of old and new businesses in that neighborhood, from union halls to record stores to Chinese restaurants. I’d love to see even more filled in there, so that you can imagine strolling from the river to 36th with a canvas bag and finding everything you need in one strip. It’s very close to that now.”
Transforming a Parking Lot into a Cinema
He details his ideas for the empty spaces on East Lake Street in his latest book, Potluck Supper with Meeting to Follow. One of his ideas? Transforming a vacant car lot into a drive-in movie theater.
Thanks to a collaboration with artist Joan Vorderbruggen, Works Progress, and publisher Coffee House Press, we’ll get the chance to see his idea come to life. On Saturday (10/12), the parking lot behind Forage will be transformed into an outdoor cinema – complete with a 144′ screen and sound system. Parka will provide snacks, and drinks can be purchased from the bar and brought to the outdoor theater.
With the spirit of East Lake Street in mind, Vorderbruggen and Sturdevant have curated a selection of films for the screening. “Poetry in Motion,” a film created by Works Progress, that follows poet Dobby Gibson as he rides the Lake Street bus. And the title of Brad Zellar’s film “Admission to Gator Matinee Includes All-You-Can-Eat Buffet: Andy in Orlando, 2005″ says it all.
Bringing Streets to Life with Art
Vorderbruggen has considerable experience bringing streets to life using art. Her work transformed seven properties on Eat Street from vacant buildings to leased space, and she is now working on a similar project in Block E.
What’s her secret? “[Art] is beautiful. When I am moving along in the city I can imagine color and beauty where there is gray and brown and nothingness, it stimulates my imagination like nothing else,” said Vorderbruggen. She added, “There are awesome statistics that show how implementing art and culture into an urban area has boundless positive impacts for the community, traffic calming, street softening, graffiti prevention, the list goes on and on…. Everyone deserves to enjoy and be inspired by art, and putting it right there on the sidewalk is one of the best ways to do that.”
Creating Happenings in the Most Unlikely of Places
Whether it’s a sidewalk, vacant storefront, or parking lot, the two hope to demonstrate that art can happen anywhere. “With a little intention and activity, even a space as nondescript as a parking lot can be a place where things happen,” said Sturdevant. “I think Parka and Forage have made great use of the storefront space, and we’re just building on that.”
The East Lake Bike N’ Bus Cinema is a part of Andy Sturdevant’s Potluck Supper, a series of public projects designed to bring to life the essays from Sturdevant’s new book, “Potluck Supper with Meeting to Follow.”
East Lake Bike N’ Bus-In Cinema will happen Saturday, Oct. 12th at 7 p.m. at the parking lot behind Forage Modern Workshop, 4023 E. Lake Street, Minneapolis.
“Fall is a great time for outdoor activities,” commented Sturdevant. “It’s not oppressively hot and it’s a little darker out, which makes everything a little more intimate. Bring a friend, make a friend, snuggle up, and watch some movies about the greatest street in town.”
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