Artist cooperative, Electric Machete, works to forward Latinx artwork in St. Paul’s gentrifying West Side

“History books tell you that Aztecs and Mayans have disappeared, but we’re in front of you now.”

Xilam Balam, artist, screen printer, audio engineer, lyricist, producer, teaching artist and one of the five founding members of the Electric Machete Studios said this as he sat at a table along with myself and Reynaldo Lara, another of the Electric Machete artists. I’m visiting the Electric Machete Studio space on the West Side of St. Paul. They’ve just finished a screen printing workshop with high school students. Sketches of nude bodies cover the walls around us, remnants from their last “People of Color & Indigenous Peoples (POCI) Figure Drawing” class, an opportunity for exclusively POCI artists to draw in safe space…so that they have equal opportunities to draw from each other and learn from each other. Continue Reading

No Blues for Adelabu: A Mississippi Ride with Amoke Kubat

As part of the 2015 Mississippi River Revue, put on by the Mississippi River Fund, artist and community organizer Amoke Kubat gathered some friends onto a Saint Paul riverboat to share stories of African and African American river life.

Check out the sounds and sights of the two-hour trip up the Mississippi and Minnesota. The evening full of song and story ended with a pledge to protect Sweet Water. Continue Reading

Fiesta Cinco de Mayo!

The Lowrider car and bicycle show is justifiably, one of the highlights of the Cinco de Mayo West Side Saint Paul Fiesta. The fiesta draws crowds of people along the closed off blocks of Cesar Chavez Street, drinking out of fresh pineapples, browsing the vendor goods, and checking out the lines of Lowriders that showed up for the event. Not being a car person of any sort, I felt immediately out of my depth. Several of the car and bicycle owners kindly answered my surely very ignorant questions, patiently nodding when I asked what was clearly a no-brainer. While the Lowrider show brings out people to ogle over cars and bikes, the Cinco de Mayo Fiesta is also about celebrating one of the Twin Cities oldest Latino neighborhoods. Continue Reading

TC Weekend | Art in Bloom, Cinco de Mayo, MayDay, Festival of Nations & more!

We’ve endured puddles, potholes, puddles in potholes and chilly April showers — now it’s time for some May flowers!  This weekend’s forecast calls for a bit more sun (crossing fingers), perfect for getting out to Art in Bloom, the Summer Flower Show, and the many festivals in the Twin Cities. Details below:Art in Bloom, May 1-4 Take time to smell the roses and delight your eyes with timeless art at Minneapolis Institute of Arts’ 31st Annual Art in Bloom. On display will be 150 floral arrangements designed to reflect art from MIA’s permanent collection. Minneapolis Institute of Arts2400 Third Ave. S., Minneapolis, MNGeneral admission is free; price for ticketed events vary Go here for more info. Festival of Nations, May 1-4 Get a glimpse of the globe in one colorful setting at Festival of Nations, an annual festival presented by the Internatinal Institute of Minnesota. Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | You really don’t want to meet the Dicks at Dick’s Resort in the Mall of America

I’m not one to cry. Truth is, I rarely cry, but during a visit to Dick’s Resort in the Mall of America I was literally reduced to tears! The bartender was abusive, abrasive, and mean as HELL. I wasn’t sure why he was in a bad mood, but later found out that it is their “niche” to be mean as spitfire. Were they really trained to treat people like this, to the point of harassment? Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | East Side of St. Paul is ‘out of sight, out of mind’ until a serious incident happens

In recent weeks, a devastating incident occurred on the Eastside of St. Paul where several teens allegedly beat a passerby until he was unconscious. This is a circumstance that no person should have to endure. One of the notable pieces of information that has surfaced is the fact that the passerby was white and the teens were African American. Although some within the broader community argue that the attack was based on race, the reality is that in light of the circumstances under which the attack occurred, the victim could arguably have been any individual who was within the vicinity of the young people in question. Actually, a similar severe beating of an innocent Black man, Edwin Daniel, by five young Somali men occurred on the Eastside just a few years prior to this most recent incident.The factors that contribute to these types of horrific episodes, including shootings by young people against other young people, may revolve around underlying issues at the intersection of race and poverty that are pervasive on the East Side of St. Continue Reading

Transit planning on the West side provides a refreshingly positive model

Transit planning. If the phrase gave you a cold shiver as it called up memories you’d rather repress, we should talk. It’s been a real horror show here in St Paul as a parade of officials and hired engineers have stood in front of citizen committees and neighborhood gatherings telling us whatever they thought we wanted to hear and never (never!) listening. The decisions were always made long ago by people more interested in chasing pots of money, appropriate or not. Continue Reading

NEIGHBORHOOD NOTES | Photographer Shelly Campbell shows “Faces of the West Side” at Jerabek’s New Bohemian in St. Paul

Visitors to Jerabek’s New Bohemian cafe in St. Paul are used to seeing the friendly faces of their West Side neighbors—not just at the tables, but on the wall. Photographer Shelly Campbell presents a rotating showcase of her portraits in an ongoing exhibit called Faces of the West Side. Stop by Jerabek’s any time to see Campbell’s work; see studioat220.com for more information about this local artist. Continue Reading