Sunday, July 28, 2013

Mobile Tracing Unit at Open Streets Minneapolis: Central Ave. NE

On four different major Minneapolis streets, the Minneapolis Bike Coalition shuts down traffic for a day so that residents can gather, get some exercise, participate in spontaneous play activities, and get to know one another. For more info check out Open Streets. We went out to do some drawings ourselves and talk to people about the project. Central Avenue is lined with beautiful old buildings and it was inspiring to slow down and take the time to examine them, draw them and think about the many lives and communities that have existed and continue to thrive here.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Down on Skid Row

"In the 1950s, John Bacich, aka Johnny Rex, filmed what he saw happening on the streets outside his Washington Avenue bar. His film, SKIDROW, documents Minneapolis' Gateway District when it was twenty square blocks of bars, flophouses, pawn shops and missions. In 1958, the City of Minneapolis redeveloped the Gateway, demolishing over 180 businesses and evicting its 3,000 skid row residents."

(Taken from

This is an incredible account of what this part of Minneapolis was like at the time!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

MHS Day 2

For this class we had a presentation on researching historic properties at the Minnesota History Center’s Gale Library.  The majority of the time was spent digging through the archives in search of images and information to be used in the artworks that the students will create.

After the class, a handful of us walked across the street and checked out the boarded up Selby Street Car Tunnel.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Gateway

I have always been extremely interested in Gateway Park that existed where Hennepin, Nicollet, and Washington Avenues converged in the Gateway District. This park served as the center of Minneapolis until the Urban Renewal Act did away with it and many buildings in the area starting in 1958. It is a shame that we lost so many buildings in this area and even more shameful that we displaced a group of people because they were "undesirable." 

Here are some pictures of Gateway Park and the area in it's day:

Minnesota Historical Society Day 1

We started of the class looking at the drawings that the students created at Riverside Plaza.  For the majority of the students, it was the first time participating in a critique. With this in mind we set a couple parameters - stay positive, encourage others, and if there is criticism, make sure that it is put forth in the form of a question. Also, we spent time talking about the elements of art and we encouraged them to use this vocabulary when talking about eachothers' drawings


we spent time brainstorming the outcomes for the project. The solution that the group is really excited about is a portable exhibition consisting of collapsable kiosks and a cargo van that turns into a pop up gallery.

We also watched “The Lost Twin Cities,” a documentary on buildings that once stood in Minneapolis and Saint Paul.  

The students also had the opportunity to visit Open House: If These Walls Could Talk, an exhibition showing the history of the people that lived in one house in East Saint Paul over the lifespan of the building.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

En Plein Air

Much of the class has been spent wrapping our heads around the idea of historic preservation and what it means to the city, so today we spent time focusing on the other big part of our project - art! Today we walked up to the plaza level of Riverside Plaza and drew. It was great to be up there taking a look at the architecture and allowing the students some time to work on technical element of their drawing. We talked a little about Rapson's utopian vision and whether it actually works. One student, Kosar, lives in the complex, so it was fantastic to get her perspective on how people use the public space.

Monday, July 15, 2013

West Bank Walking Tour

Today Aleah gave us a fantastic historic tour of the West Bank. The tour focused on the West Bank as a neighborhood with a deep history of music and civil disobedience.  We started at the Brian Coyle Center then made our way to Cedar Avenue.

Here's a photo of Aleah in front of the Nomad Bar, a building that has been a gathering place for musicians for over a hundred years.

West Back School of Music, a long standing supporter of musicians in the neighborhood.

We talked about the development of Riverside Plaza, in particular the halting of the development by community organizers thorough organized protest. Aleah introduced the students to the concept of Urban Renewal and we talked at length about the residual effects of it's influence on the West Bank.