Drive down West Broadway from Washington avenue and you’ll undoubtedly notice abandoned businesses, half empty strip malls and a couple of fast food joints. The drive between North Emerson and North Penn is an entirely different story. Right beside the hair and nail salon on the corner of Emerson and West Broadway is a mural created by Juxtaposition Arts. Their small storefront building next door is a hub of art making activity that boasts textile design, painting and printmaking classes for youth living on the Northside. They have entirely transformed the whole block into a creative hive for Northsiders to be proud of and enjoy. So, it’s fitting that the 6th Annual FLOW arts festival should begin here.
The festival was created to celebrate the creative energy that exists on the Northside. This year’s FLOW was all about recognizing thousands of volunteers that helped with the clean-up and recovery efforts after the May 22nd tornado.
“FLOW is a wonderful time to celebrate arts, culture and people coming together. This year is especially special because of the tornado. This is about recognizing the volunteers who helped with the clean up and who remain committed to the Northside,” says State Representative Bobby Jo Champion (58B)
On Penn Ave North, city and state leaders like Champion recognized community members, some of whom grew up “over north” with a drum and dance number, poetry, salsa dancing at the Capri Theater and a large group photo taken by 365 Photography. Expert chainsaw artists were there to carve trees downed by the tornado. Their efforts were auctioned off and the proceeds will go to help the victims.
“This is an art crawl, but it’s also a time when people who wouldn’t normally come into the neighborhood come into the neighborhood to see what our assets are,” says Juxtaposition Arts director Roger Cummings. Those assets include the great diversity and high concentration of youth in North Minneapolis.
While clean up and recovery efforts are far from over, FLOW was a chance for Northsiders to remember what makes their community special and what they have to celebrate when the last pieces of debris are finally hauled away.