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

How the ‘creative economy’ is killing culture on Lake Street

On Nov. 2,  a multiracial group of people gathered at Plaza Centenario on the corner of 12th Avenue and Lake Street in Minneapolis. Organized by the Immigrant Movement for Justice, Por Raza and Morena Minnesota, an ofrenda for Day of the Dead was built to honor family members and community leaders throughout the world who passed away due to injustice. The plaza was established by the tireless efforts of local community groups Cuernavaca-Cuernavaca-Axochiapan-Morelos (CCAM), Club Morelos (CM) and Latino artists. Towering above pedestrians stands a bronze statue of Mexican revolutionary leader Emiliano Zapata created by German Michel Leal, an artist from Morelos, Mexico, a sister city of Minneapolis. Continue Reading

#AGreatCityRises and the toll of gentrification on Northeast Minneapolis

I stopped at the corner trying desperately to remember the potholes and broken concrete I knew as a child. I creeped the car – like I would have back in the day – down the now perfectly manicured road with its “vintage” appeal, missing the cracked and crumbling concrete. My family came to Minneapolis after being forced out of St. Cloud by folks who thought that two blind people could not be adequate parents. For as long as I can remember, 216 Fifth Ave. Continue Reading

Still praying, still protesting

Char Madigan will be praying for peace during the RNC this year, a continuation of a career of prayer and protest that goes back more than thirty years. On July 4, 1976 in the Phillips neighborhood, near Portland and Franklin, Char Madigan started her peace activism. Out of her own apartment along with Rita Steinhagen and Laura Geyer, two other sisters of St. Joseph’s of Carondelet, she gave her personal phone number to the police and Chrysalis, a battered women’s shelter, to help anyone in need in her neighborhood … people on the run, new in town, etc. Hope CommunityThis brief history is taken from Hope Community’s Web site.Hope Community began as a place for people to gather in community. Continue Reading