Murals Bridge Divides on Snelling Avenue, Saint Paul’s Busiest Street

[At right: Snelling Avenue sidewalks. Photo by Bill Lindeke.]Snelling Avenue is one of the busiest streets in Minnesota, but it’s also one of the most overlooked: narrow sidewalks, aging buildings, and the steady stream of traffic filled with drivers that never seem to notice the rich diversity of the neighborhood around them.This summer, the Midway Murals project, which one a coveted Knight Arts Grant last year, will try to change that. Jonathan Oppenheimer, who wrote the grant for the murals project, is trying to bring together neighbors, business owners, and skilled public artists to bridge both the physical barrier of Snelling’s high-speed traffic and the cultural barriers around different immigrant and non-immigrant communities. The project, which just reached its goal of raising $22,000 from the community,I met Oppenheimer at the Midway Murals official launch at the Turf Club last month, and recently asked him a few questions about goals of the innovative public art project. Snelling Avenue is undergoing a big construction project this summer that will widen the sidewalks and attempt to calm traffic north of University Avenue and around Interstate 94. Continue Reading

Unique art on the Green Line LRT platforms

I was always fascinated by a 2011 WCCO article regarding Art Along the Light Rail (Blue Line). I took an #mspwalkin St. Paul the other day, although it was raining so it wound up being a couple hours of getting lost in the skyway. Nonetheless, I took the newer Green Line to the Union Depot and back, and saw some really nice art at various LRT platforms. Continue Reading

Green art for the Green Line

As I walked along University Avenue from Western Avenue to Lexington Parkway during the Open Streets event a couple of weeks ago, I noticed that all the people and activities were centered around the Green Line station areas at Western, Dale, Victoria and Lexington, where there were local ethnic shops and restaurants, arts and crafts for sale, activities for children, and neighbors greeting one another. In contrast, the blocks between stations seemed incredibly long. Even though it was a beautiful day, there was very little to see along the way. There were no displays in store windows, no sidewalk cafes, no attractions to encourage people to walk from one station to the next. The Green Line trains passed by from time to time, the sidewalk was newly paved and lined with smallish trees that will someday provide shade and greenery, and there were a few colorful murals on the sides of buildings, but mostly it was pretty bleak and dull. Continue Reading

From classical to hip hop at FLOW Northside Arts Crawl

As FLOW Northside Arts Crawl gears up for its 9th year enlivening West Broadway on Friday, July 25th and Saturday, July 26th, it is difficult to describe with words what makes this event special. FLOW is more than a premier art event; it is a community celebration of the many facets that make North Minneapolis a truly unique and meaningful place to live, work, learn and create.Many of those that look forward to FLOW each year might describe FLOW as the best kept secret of the Twin Cities art festival world. While part of FLOW’s beauty comes from the convivial spirit of Northside artists showing and performing Northside art for other Northsiders, FLOW invites people everywhere to experience its stunning mix of emerging and professional artists and innovative public art installations. FLOW is a free event for all ages.During FLOW, West Broadway’s permanent art spaces open their doors with especially welcoming gusto. These include the MPLS Photo Center, Caldwell FIne Arts Gallery and Studio, the Lundstrum Center for Performing Arts, Juxtaposition Arts, and the Capri Theater. Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | Embedded: With the Mosaic Quilting Project in Minneapolis’s Kingfield neighborhood

I am not the craft-making type. I am a klutz, with an X-Acto blade scar on my thigh to prove it. I agreed, however, to be an embedded journalist–on hand to observe, not to participate–in a public art project in south Minneapolis called the Mosaic Quilting Project.Mosaics are made of little pieces of cut glass, arranged to make a picture. Glass is dangerous. Ancient people made arrowheads out of glass, and modern people hit each other with beer bottles.”We don’t eat at the tables where we’re gluing down the glass pieces,” one of the mosaic project coordinators, Mary Ann Schoenberger, told me. Continue Reading