Wednesday, March 20, 2013


This is one of my favorite buildings in Minneapolis.  It's so ugly that it's beautiful.  Every time I look at this building, I wonder what is in this walled stucco mess.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


Lately I have been driving around in my car with a fistful of overhead transparency markers and stopping to trace buildings of interest.  It's kind of hard to deal with the condensation and the concave nature of the window, but I think it will be a fun activity to start conversations around historic buildings.

Thursday, March 14, 2013


Over the last month, I have been going to too many meetings and drinking too much coffee, but here's a list of "ah ha" moments that I have experienced lately. 

1. Candy Chang

Last week I was in Denver on vacation and happened to notice that Candy Chang was giving a talk at the RedLine, a contemporary art center. I have been a fan of her work since my first exposure to her "Before I Die" project on the side of the Fallout Art Space in Whittier. I was taken by her desire to create her own discipline/career path. Her background is in urban planning, graphic design, and architecture and she utilizes all of these skills in her artistic practice. Much like Chang, I have a variety of interests and skills. The projects that I am most interested in working on don't exactly fit in the design realm, but feel more comfortable in space that art provides. Whatever the label, in the end, I hope to make stuff that sparks a conversation and action around ideas that effect people.

2. Jan Jacobs

When I started the CreativeCitymaking project, I asked artists, city planners, and architects that I know for books to read. The list that was compiled would be a great skeleton for Urban Planning 101 class.  I have slowly be making my way through the list, but have resorted to playing audiobooks as I work.  Lately I have been listening to The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jan Jacobs via the Hennepin County Public Library's ebook system (a major "ah ha" moment in it's own regard). The book covers many topics in regards to urban planning, but Jacobs' thoughts on neighborhood and community based urban planning, safety on avenues, and the importance of a variety of buildings seem to speak directly to the project that I am working on as a part of CreativeCitymaking. A big portion of my project will occur on Central Avenue, a major commercial thoroughfare in Northeast Minneapolis.  The Avenue faces many of the challenges (issues of safety, dominance of cars) that Jacobs outlines in her book, but also possesses many of the strengths (diversity of buildings, street life). 

3. Trial and Error.

Making your sketches a reality is a process of trial and error. I am building a mobile tracing unit (see sketch above). The main idea is to crate a bike trailer out of an old door that can be propped up and trace buildings.   I bought a door the other day at Bauer Brothers. I brought it home and decided to give it a fresh coat of paint.  After applying a nice coat of white, I spent 4 hours taping down a stripe pattern and putting down a coat of orange paint. By this time I was about 6 hours into the project.  I waited for the paint to dry, pulled off the tape, and realized that I had used water based paint on a oil based coat.  No good. Total amateur mistake, but like most projects, this one is going to take twice the amount of time that I thought it would.

4. Holland Neighborhood Association & Edison High School

This point isn't necessarily an "ah ha" moment, but reinforces an "ah ha" moment.  Last summer I realized that I had been working as an arts educator in every neighborhood aside from my own for the last 15 years. The CreativeCitymaking project has gave me the opportunity to work with teenagers in my own community. Over past month I have got to know much more about the students that go to school in my neighborhood and the people that are doing the day to day work to make my community better.  Looking forward to continuing my partnerships with Edison High and the Holland Neighborhood Association.