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Good to Great: Placemaker Gil Penalosa visits the Twin Cities

This week, internationally renowned placemaking expert Gil Penalosa is visiting the Twin Cities during the Saint Paul Riverfront Corporation’s Third Annual Placemaking Residency. The residency includes 16 events over 4 days with Penalosa to get residents and planners collaborating on how to bring the metro area from good to great in terms of its parks, transit, mobility and overall livability.

It’s not as simple as it may seem, said Penalosa, the esteemed former Commissioner of Parks, Sport and Recreation in Bogota, Colombia, at the Textile Center in Minneapolis on Monday during the opening event. “It’s much more difficult to go from good to great than bad to great,” he added.

As the executive director of Toronto’s 8-80 Cities, Penalosa’s idea is that if you create a city that’s good for an 8 year old and good for an 80 year old, you will create a successful city for everyone.

The Twin Cities is on the right track with multimodal transit infrastructure, improved green spaces and pedestrian friendly development getting special attention from planners and policymakers in recent years. But that doesn’t mean it’s time to sit idle, says Patrick Seeb, executive director of Saint Paul Riverfront Corporation.

“[Penalosa] will help push us to think more boldly about what the opportunities are in the Twin Cities,” he said.

Those opportunities might vary greatly across the city—from parts of the Cities that are rather advanced in thinking about pedestrian balance and mobility like downtown St. Paul, where an Open Streets event will be held with Penalosa on Thursday, to places like the South Loop in Bloomington where planners are trying to figure out how to better develop the area around the two major transit stops near the Mall of America.

Then there are places somewhere in between, such as Prospect Park. Here organizers are pushing a plan to transform the area north of University Avenue into a vibrant mixed-use center of pedestrian activity around the new Green Line station. Construction on Surly Brewing Company's new destination brewery is already underway there, providing a potential anchor for future development, said Dick Gilyard of Prospect Park 2020 while leading a walk with Penalosa on Monday.

Penalosa says there is a tendency for cities in the northern hemisphere to mistakenly plan their infrastructure around the couple harshest days in winter. “When we think this is the norm, we end up with a series of tubes above the city that sucks the life out of the city,” Penalosa said. “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing,” he added.

One of the key goals of the residency is to pull ordinary citizens into the planning process by giving them the tools, vision and lingo to be able to participate in meaningful ways, according to Seeb.

“People want to make a difference in their neighborhood, and the more they can help shape where they live, the more likely they are to stay there and reinvent and improve the neighborhood,” Seeb said.

With the help of Penalosa and an array of partner organizations, Seeb hopes the residency will empower people all over the Twin Cities to get involved in the planning and development of their communities.

Penalosa will be making appearances at places like Central High School in St. Paul to help students and community leaders explore how the school can better connect to its surrounding neighborhoods. He’ll stop by the University of Minnesota to promote biking and walking in the University district. He’ll also lead a walking tour of downtown Minneapolis and be the keynote speaker at the 20th Annual Great River Gathering Thursday evening.

 

First & First plans creative campus in St. Paul's Midway

The innovative developer that brought Minneapolis such imaginative properties as The Broadway, Aria and Icehouse Plaza is taking on its biggest project yet with its first venture into St. Paul. First & First is moving ahead with the redevelopment of a 5.5-acre, multi-structure property at 550 Vandalia Street in the Creative Enterprise Zone to be known as Vandalia Tower—a nod to the old water tower that will become a focal point of the property.

Founder and head visionary Peter Remes says he plans to transform the property into a dynamic campus housing an array of creative tenants from woodworkers to graphic designers, artists, architects and more. He says negotiations are also underway with potential craft brewers and restaurants. One of the defining features of the campus will be what Remes describes as a “secret garden” courtyard in the center of the complex.

“It’s a big campus, a big project by almost anyone’s standards,” says Remes, who grew up less than two miles from the site—a fact he says gives the project particular personal significance.

The 205,000-square-foot property sits one block north of I-94 and two blocks south of University Avenue where the new Metro Transit Light Rail Green Line will start running June 14.  In many ways, the location speaks to another of First & First’s defining missions—to connect a place’s past, present and future; preserving it’s heritage while breaking transformational new ground.

The Midway area of St. Paul has a rich history as both an industrial center and transportation hub dating back to the end of the 19th century when James J. Hill imagined the area as a central connection point for the Great Northern Railway.

More recently, the Vandalia Tower property embodied the industrial past of the area as home to the King Koil Mattress factory. Remes plans to keep that history close to the surface as he reinvents the property as a modern mixed-use centerpiece to a neighborhood already gaining recognition as a center of creative activity and commerce.

“That’s when the magic occurs, in terms of being able to honor that past and let that history breathe, and yet infuse it with modern day amenities…and just really have this juxtaposition that occurs when you walk in that can be very thought provoking,” Remes says.

The main building is currently home to around 30 tenants including a growing community of woodworkers, artists, and other creative entrepreneurs. Some have worked out of the crumbling building for years, while others are newly recruited tenants.

Nordeast Makers moved into the building last fall. Hundreds of members use the large shared workspace—and its collection of top-of-the-line equipment—to tinker, build and create everything from art and furniture to innovative software and technologies.

Remes says these are the types of tenants he hopes to attract and cater to at Vandalia Tower. “What they bring to the table is that energy we hope to continue to build upon and to grow,” he says.

First & First hosted a meeting with current tenants last month, many of whom are worried the lofty development plans will increase rents that would price them out of their spaces. Remes says that while modest rent increases are likely, the goal is to keep as many of the creative tenants already there as possible.

“We want these people to prosper, we want them to do well, and that goes for the neighboring businesses, as well,” he said.

 

Carter Averbeck transforms old into renewed at Omforme

Omforme, a Norwegian word meaning "to transform,” is the name of a new shop at 24th and Lyndale in Minneapolis. Omforme also describes the ways in which its owner, Carter Averbeck, who is part Norwegian, gives furniture and other home goods a new lease on life. 

The shop offers a mix of vintage and modern pieces that reflect every era, as well as original furnishings from local designers. Some pieces are restored to their former glory, while others get a modern update, Averbeck explains.   

The shop evolved out of Averbeck’s other business, Trompe Decorative Finishes, through which Averbeck creates murals and decorative finishes for commercial and residential spaces. Often, when clients stopped by the studio, Averbeck says, they would remark on the unique furniture in the space--often pieces that Averbeck had reconditioned.

Before opening Omforme, Averbeck experimented with several pop-up shops. Those were successful, so he was able to secure a permanent home for Omforme.  

From the beginning, Averbeck wanted to be near Uptown, an area that has an artistic, hip edge to it, he says. 

Lyndale seemed like an ideal location. “Lyndale is moving so fast into what Uptown used to be,” with many new retail shops, restaurants, and apartments, he says. “I got lucky. It was the right space at the right time.”  

Previously, the 1,100-square-foot space had been a Gothic-style hair salon. Although the place needed a lot of attention, “the building has great bones,” Averbeck says.

Averbeck took his design cues from the vintage building. Old World details blend with crisp modern shades of white and charcoal gray, while the colorful pieces for sale lend ambiance. “It’s like a high-class manner house,” in Europe, “a timeless space,” he says. “People say it’s like walking out of Minneapolis, into some place else.”  
 

Source: Carter Averbeck, owner, Omforme 
Writer: Anna Pratt 








Spyhouse Coffee contributes to The Broadway redevelopment

Spyhouse Coffee expanded into Northeast Minneapolis this fall with a third location in The Broadway, a former warehouse at Central and Broadway redeveloped by Peter Remes of First and First

The warehouse building’s other tenants include 612 BrewSeventhsin (a creative agency), and the Steller Hair Co.

Christian Johnson, who owns the Spyhouse coffeehouses along with The Bad Waitress restaurant in South Minneapolis, scoped out plenty of other locations around town before settling on The Broadway, according to The Journal. At the time, the building was undergoing early renovation work, according to the story.

Today, old barn wood salvaged from an Amish farm in Wisconsin, and the warehouse's original flooring and thick beams lend a rustic feel to the place.

A variety of antiques, including an old-fashioned roaster and custom-made furniture, add character to the space, as well.

Johnson plans to turn the Northeast shop into a roastery that will provide coffee to the other locations, according to The Journal.   
 
Chris Bubser, an architect and community activist who lives nearby in the Windom neighborhood, says the place makes a nice impression from the street. “I think the outside of the building looks great, and I'm glad someone saved and repurposed another cool old Northeast building,” he says. 

He’s fond of the big floor-to-ceiling windows, which provide views of the interior from the outside. 

The renovation respects the building’s original architecture, and “changes the whole dynamic of what was a pretty unappealing corner," Bubser says. "Those kinds of improvements may seem small, but the more developers make such improvements, the more momentum is built." 

Source: Chris Bubser, community resident 
Writer: Anna Pratt 







Betty Danger's Country Club to feature food and a Ferris wheel

Betty Danger’s Country Club, a Tex-Mex restaurant featuring dining while sitting on a Ferris wheel, a mini golf course, and a “pro shop,” is destined for Northeast Minneapolis. 

The restaurant plans to take over the former home of Psycho Suzi’s Motor Lounge, a retro drive-in at 2519 Marshall St. N.E., according to city materials about the project. The location has been empty since Psycho Suzi’s relocated nearby a couple of years ago.  

Leslie Bock, a.k.a. Psycho Suzi, owns both places, along with Donny Dirk’s Zombie Den in North Minneapolis. 

She described the personality behind Betty Danger’s in a letter to neighbors, according to the TC Daily Planet, which quotes her: “Betty is apple pie and sunshine, but sadly lives in a time warp with no sense of reality or logic. Poor Betty."   

The restaurant's most striking attraction, a 60-foot Ferris wheel, will offer views of the Mississippi River, the downtown skyline, and the Lowry Bridge.     
  
Last Monday, the city’s planning commission approved plans for the restaurant, which will also have a clubhouse, a covered terrace, an outdoor kitchen, and a full bar. The place aims to open by early next year.  City Council member Kevin Reich says of the neighborhood’s reaction, “The predominant tone I’m getting is that everyone’s looking for a win-win.” 

Parking is the main issue that has come up with the area’s neighborhood group. That said, it’s a solvable problem, Reich believes.  “The city’s not afraid of the novelty of it,” he says, and will be breaking it down into various regulatory items and other nuts-and-bolts issues. It helps that “the community is very engaged,” according to Reich.

Bock is known as someone who is “committed to being a good neighbor, who’s very creative, thinks out of the box, and brings landmarks to the area." In terms of finding the "wow factor," Reich says, “She’s done that in a big way."  


Source: Kevin Reich, City Council member 
Writer: Anna Pratt 











A photo contest connecting design principles and the life of the street

To flesh out its in-progress street design manual that’s part of a broader plan, St. Paul is holding a photo contest of “street elements" that can be found throughout the city.

The manual will provide "a clear framework for street design processes,” according to city information. Community members can help add to the manual with snapshots of “street elements,” which include sidewalks, benches, crosswalks, bike racks and lanes, boulevard trees, outdoor cafes, and more.

The contest, which has an Aug. 1 deadline, is open to anyone, from the amateur to the professional photographer, according to Anton Jerve, a city official who is leading the charge. Contest rules, along with a lengthy list of “street elements,” sample photos and image requirements can be found on the city’s website. Some people may even be able to use their smartphones, depending on how good their cameras are, he says.  

The contest is a creative way to get the public involved in the digital manual, which will see plenty of use from city planners, he says. “This is an opportunity for people to go out and take photos and help us customize the manual,” he says, adding, “It showcases the good things we’re already doing.”         

This will contribute to the city's Complete Streets Plan, which is all about street design that takes into consideration “the needs of all street users, of all ages and abilities,” city materials state. The manual will “talk about how we can bring the street elements all together to design a complete or balanced street,” Jerve says.            

Part of what makes it helpful is that “People will take photos of places they like. It gets people out and about and thinking about the streets, and the relationship between what we’re calling something in the manual and how it’s functioning,” he says.  
 
Source: Anton Jerve, city of St. Paul
Writer: Anna Pratt


Thistle store brings vintage wares to Milton Square

Thistle, an occasional shop that offers repurposed vintage furniture and other home accessories, opened in the historical Milton Square in St. Paul in May.

The space has had a variety of uses through the years, according to shop owner Heather O’Malley.
She describes the place as a “nice complement to the quirky building,” which dates back to 1909. It has a European feeling, with old-fashioned steps that lead down to the store. People can “overlook it from the street and down into my doorway. People love to peek over,” she says.

Although O’Malley made some cosmetic changes to the 800-square-foot space, “My type of furniture, quirky repurposed things, fits in well with this,” she says. To flesh that out a little more, she took away layers to expose old pipes and radiators.  

O’Malley, who also has a set-design business, had always wanted to have a shop like this and she likes the neighborhood. As far as work goes, “I love to find things and change them up and make them into something else, give them a new life,” she says, adding, “I felt it was time for me to have a retail spot for it.”  

So, when this space opened up, “It was the perfect opportunity,” and it makes sense for the neighborhood, too, which is characterized by older homes, she says.

Since the shop is only open for a limited time over the course of a month, “It’s not like a typical gift shop. It’s constantly changing,” with different merchandise all the time. “People feel like they’re on a scavenger hunt to find something no one else has discovered yet.”  

The shop’s next sale dates go from July 11 to 14. (Check the website for further details.) “People get excited about seeing what comes next,” O'Malley says, adding, “There’s been some really interesting comments and good feedback so far.”
 

Source: Heather O’Malley, owner, Thistle
Writer: Anna Pratt



Students design stormwater drain stencils throughout St. Paul as a part of CityLabs project

Through a partnership with a group called CityLabs, which works with a nonprofit consortium called the Associated Colleges of the Twin Cities (ACTC) on various sustainability projects, a number of student designers will soon be making their mark on St. Paul streets.

The students, who come from Hamline University and Augsburg College, came up with a stencil design for stormwater drains throughout the city.

On Thursday, that design, and other pieces the students put together as a part of a larger campaign to create awareness around stormwater drains, will be unveiled in a special event at Hamline.

Jason Maher, a spokesperson from CityLabs, explains that the city is required to do a certain amount of education and outreach concerning stormwater drains. That’s where CityLabs and ACTC are able to have an impact: For the stencils, the city “proposed that to us in project form and then we match that with existing coursework,” he says.  

The idea is that the stenciled designs calls attention to the stormwater drains, which often end up conveying much more than runoff, he says.

Typically, the city works with the Friends of the Mississippi River (FMR) on these types of initiatives, and FMR will be coordinating the stenciling part of this project in the coming weeks. At Thursday’s event, people can sign up to help out with that, he says.   

The reason that this project came up has to with the fact that the current designs on the city’s stormwater drains are 20 years old, so the city “wanted a redesign of that campaign.”

Also as a part of this campaign, students designed eye-catching handles to flip over storm doors and coasters for area bars to use.

As the project progressed, the dynamic between the classes and the city was much like that of a graphic design firm and client, “with lots of feedback and give and take,” he says, adding, “Someone from the city works with the students to make sure the outcomes are there and they guide the work.”

Students started out with around seven design concepts, which they narrowed down to three and then one winning design. Along the way, the students came up with lots of “ideas that are super fresh and innovative,” he says.

Source: Jason Maher, spokesperson, CityLabs
Writer: Anna Pratt

Sunrise Cyclery plans $25,000 renovation at new location

Sunrise Cyclery bike shop in Southwest Minneapolis will be moving to a new location along the Midtown Greenway in the coming months.

The bike shop will take over a one-story warehouse space that has long served exclusively as storage, according to Sunrise owner Jamie McDonald.

Its move was prompted by the sale of its longtime home at Bryant and Lake. In many ways, it's an upgrade for the bike shop, which caters to local commuters and recreational riders, with new and used bike parts, he says.  

For starters, at its new digs, the bike shop will be able to spread out more, with 5,000 square feet as opposed to its existing 3,000, he says.

McDonald also has a vision for an open public area, where people can work on their own bikes with the shop’s tools.

In general, the bike shop will be able to offer more programming, and even dedicate some space to the Wellstone Bike Club, an organization it has partnered with through the years. The club helps youth start bicycling.

“The number of bikes we’ll be able to turn through here will be better, too,” he adds.

Sunrise will carry on the look and feel of a “friendly neighborhood bike shop.” To achieve that, it’ll take about $25,000 to build out the industrial building, he says. The project involves everything from installing utilities to getting a new door.

A new roof for the building, plus landscaping for the site, are also in the works. “To get an underused facility and bring it back to some function is a good thing,” he says.   

All in all, the new location will be convenient for bicyclists on the trail. Plus, “More eyes on the Greenway can’t hurt,” McDonald adds. He expects the bike shop to have a positive impact on the area, just as it has at its old location.

“It gives people a meeting place other than the local coffee shop, to do something healthy, fun, and safe,” he says. “They can come and meet with a bunch of other like-minded people and ride their bikes.”  

The bike shop tentatively plans to get its new location up and running in mid-November.

 Source: Jamie McDonald, owner, Sunrise Cyclery
Writer: Anna Pratt

Mead Hall Games & Comics to add color to basement space in Loring Park

Mead Hall Games & Comics, whose name is a nod to the European mead-drinking and feasting halls of centuries ago, is bringing new life to a basement-level space in Loring Park.

The shop will offer comic books with a special emphasis on local, independent work, along with music records, games and more, according to owner Ian Anderson.

It falls under the umbrella of The Afternoon Company, which Anderson started a decade ago.

Mead Hall will occupy about 400 square feet of a 1,200-square-foot space that it shares with Afternoon Printing, which also belongs to the parent company.

This was an area of the shop that the printing company didn’t need. As such, “We decided to make it spectacular,” he says, adding, “That’s what evolved into the comic book store.”

In the past, the space housed an Italian restaurant, but it’s long been vacant. “It was in rough shape, but we put a lot of work into it,” he says, adding that it gets plenty of natural light.  
 
He and his partner Alex Bowes did the renovation work themselves, including the woodwork, plumbing, and electrical systems. “It’s been a great learning experience,” he says. “The space really needed some love. We’re really proud of it.”   

Reflecting the heritage of its originators, it has a Nordic feel to it. “We’re trying to bring in a lot of design from the classic Nordic vibe we all know and love,” he says.  

Much of the wood in the place has been reclaimed from an old school gymnasium that was in a flood. Although some pieces were ruined, “We cleaned it piece by piece,” he says, adding, “We were able to pull out the Dream Team pieces.”  

By contrast, the print shop area, which is behind the comic store, has a more modern, industrial aesthetic, with plenty of metal.

“We hope we can embrace the nerds of the neighborhood,” and vice versa. “I think it’s an awesome spot to be in. We’re excited.”

The shop is slated to open later this month, or as soon as the proper licensing comes through, Anderson says.


Source: Ian Anderson, The Afternoon Company
Writer: Anna Pratt




Envision Minnesota hosts placemaking forum

An upcoming forum from Envision Minnesota, a sustainable land use nonprofit organization, will highlight cutting-edge public art initiatives underway in St. Paul.

The event, called, "Spotlight on Saint Paul: A Creative Placemaking Forum," is happening on Sept. 18 at the Wilder Foundation in St. Paul.

For example, the city has an artist-in-residence program, something that Public Art Saint Paul funds, according to Jill Mazullo, communications director for Envision Minnesota.

Through the program, an artist, in this case, Marcus Young, works alongside city officials. One project he's leading brings poetry to city sidewalks. (See The Line story here.)

"It's a unique public-private partnership," she says.

Also, a city ordinance calls for artists to be members of planning teams related to development, while one percent of capital building budgets are to go to public art, she explains.  

Separately, through a partnership with Springboard for the Arts and Twin Cities Local Initiatives Support Corporation (TC LISC, a sponsor of The Line), Irrigate Arts sets in motion short-term artist-led projects about “humanizing the Central Corridor Light Rail Transit construction.”

“I’m struck by the insight of the Irrigate project,” she says. “I’m glad the corridor is becoming more connected, but this placemaking initiative is all about the full of the community.”

The programs bring together the “whimsy of art and bricks and mortar of construction,” she says.

The event’s speakers include Regina Flanagan from Public Art Saint Paul and Jun-Li Wang of Springboard for the Arts. They’ll talk about the city’s ongoing public art programs and offer how-tos for replicating them elsewhere. “Hopefully people go away with good ideas to take back to their own communities.”

Envision Minnesota’s new executive director, Lee Helgen, who helped author the city arts ordinance when he was a City Council member, will moderate the discussion.  

Source: Jill Mazullo, communications director, Envision Minnesota
Writer: Anna Pratt

The Nightingale restaurant to revamp burned-down grocery space on Lyndale

A former grocery store on 25th and Lyndale Avenue in Minneapolis, which was damaged in a fire last year, is being transformed to make way for a new restaurant called the Nightingale.

The Nightingale, which plans to offer a full late-night menu, will be defined by a classic design with a modern twist, according to the Southwest Journal.

Exposed brick walls, hardwood floors, and a mix of half-moon and single booths will characterize the 75-seat dining room and bar, according to the story. Neighborhood residents Carrie McCabe-Johnston and her husband, Jasha Johnston, co-own the place.

The couple is going for something that’s “a bit more upscale than what the corner is currently offering,” McCabe-Johnston told the Southwest Journal, adding, “this is what we wished was in our neighborhood."

Local designer Rachel Kate, who recently competed on HGTV’s “Design Star” show, is leading the overhauling of the space. Kate, who’s long known the couple, says, “We’ve been talking about doing a restaurant for as long as I can remember."

The place has been completely gutted, which revealed the exposed brick walls behind the old drywall, Kate says. While a lot of things had to go, “The exposed brick is staying,” she says. “It was a fantastic find."

The restaurant will be sophisticated yet friendly, she says. Its ambiance should attract nocturnal types. “It’ll have a dark nighttime feel,” she says.

A lot of metals, woods and brick will set the tone for the place, which has an open floor plan for the most part, she says. “The hard materials and the lighting will drive the design.” 

“There are some cool features in there,” she says, adding that it’s rewarding to bring new life to the space.

The trio aims to open the restaurant this fall.

Source: Rachel Kate, designer
Writer: Anna Pratt

Union Depot renovation includes $1.25 million for public art

Josh Collins, the public art administrator for the historic Union Depot in St. Paul, which is undergoing a $243 million renovation project, often fields the question, 'Why does such an iconic building need public art?' 

About $1.25 million of the depot's construction costs will go to that end, according to information from the Ramsey County Regional Authority (RCRRA).

For Collins, it comes down to making the building more accessible. “It’s a way we can engage travelers and customers and anyone who comes through," he says, adding, "It makes it special."  

Recently the Railroad Authority announced the results of a call for artists for four commissioned projects.

Projects may teach about the building’s history or be simply aesthetically-pleasing or interactive. “We hope it’ll blend with the existing architecture and make it a place that people have civic pride in,” he says.  

The Railroad Authority chose the artists from a pool of 156 applicants from across the country, including the internationally known to the emerging artist.

For starters, local artists Amy Baur and Brian Boldon of Plain Sight Art Studio in Minneapolis will fill the carriageway with a 170-foot mural made out of tile on glass. The mural will be comprised of multi-layered digital images that speak to the depot’s history, he explains.

Philadelphia artist Ray King will create an elegant suspended sculpture for the Great Hall Atrium while Tim Prentice of West Cornwall, Conn., will craft a suspended kinetic sculpture in the new Kellogg Entry, according to rail information.

King typically “uses lightweight metals to form individual elements that when linked together glide on gentle air currents,” he says. “It reflects light in unpredictable ways.”  

Steve Dietz, from the Twin Cities-based Northern Lights.mn will lead an interactive multimedia project that could involve using a cell phone or an app. “Hopefully it’ll give people a playful experience with the building," he says. 

All in all, the public art will be a draw on its own, he says.

Source: Josh Collins, Union Depot public art program administrator
Writer: Anna Pratt



Temporary writing room fills vacant storefront

An empty storefront space on University Avenue in St. Paul, along the coming Central Corridor Light Rail Transit line, will soon be transformed into a contemplative writing room, temporarily.

The installation, from artist Rebecca Krinke, is part of a collaborative project with the Starling Project and the St. Anthony Pop-Up Shop, which has filled the storefront with all kinds of creative activities this summer.

Krinke’s writing room, titled “What Needs to Be Said,” will occupy the space from August 15 to 19.

She’s trying to provide a public yet private forum for what often goes unsaid, she explains.

Krinke invites visitors to jot down whatever is on their minds, which they can display or hide away in the room. At the end of the run, the writings will be burned.     

In some ways, the room is a retreat from the daily grind. It has a smoky cedar smell, while the doors are made out of charred wood, crumpled paper, and Mylar.

This lends “an atmospheric feeling to the room--of secrets, pain, joy,” and more, she says.  
   
Although the room has a see-through quality, outside observers can only see the movement of shadow and light, while “inside has a very different feeling.”

The idea is that speaking up can be cathartic, especially in person--and in a meditative spot--as opposed to online, via blogs or message boards. “This is more random, physical, and visceral,” she says.

Beyond that, Krinke hopes that the project helps draw people to the area, which is known for its creative community.

“I want to show and support the potential for used storefronts in the area,” she says, adding that it demonstrates what artists can do to help revitalize spaces and cities.

University of Minnesota graduate students Michael Richardson and Emily Lowery are assisting Krinke with the installation, especially by exploring the possibilities for an audio component in a future installation, she adds.

Source: Rebecca Krinke, artist
Writer: Anna Pratt



Wayfinding art bikes inspire people to explore the neighborhood on foot or bike

To motivate people to get out of their cars and to explore the area surrounding the Central Corridor by bike or on foot, the St. Anthony Park neighborhood in St. Paul is getting nearly a dozen "wayfinding bikes."

As a part of the project, the artfully decorated bikes/public art pieces will be strategically placed here and there, with signage that conveys travel times and distances to certain local destinations, according to council materials.

The St. Anthony Park Community Council (SAPCC) set the project in motion, which local artist and environmental designer Carrie Christensen took on. Her focus is on sparking “awareness of place and to create more ecologically, socially, and economically functional spaces,” according to council materials.

Irrigate Arts helped make it possible with $1,000 in funding for the collaborative project.

SAPCC, which held a bike painting party in mid-July, is hosting another one today from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. at Hampden Park.

Amy Sparks, who leads the council, says that besides promoting more physical activity, the place-making project helps to mark the neighborhood’s in-progress Creative Enterprise Zone. “This also meets some of our goals in terms of increasing foot traffic and bringing vibrancy to the zone,” which is about cultivating creativity in the area, she says.

She's impressed with how Christensen took the concept and made it her own. Each of the bikes, which were donated, is getting a makeover.

One bike looks like it could be from the 1930s or 40s, with fin-like lines that resemble an old Cadillac car, she says.

Bikes will be adorned according to various themes, creating a mermaid, garden, rainbow and yarn bombing, among others. 

Also, the bikes will be chained to a signpost, so they’ll be fixed in place. Each of the bikes will be on view through Nov. 1, to avoid snowplows, she says.


Source: Amy Sparks, St. Anthony Park Community Council
Writer: Anna Pratt
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