No doubt about it—38th and Chicago in Minneapolis is getting more interesting by the minute. Already home to three über-cool institutions—the Chicago Avenue Fire Arts Center
, Blue Ox Coffee
, and the studio/gallery space
of local photo god Wing Young Huie—and the potential home of an innovative food co-op (see our coverage here
), the intersection is about to sprout, at least temporarily, an art-and-poetry initiative inspired by New York's fabled Saint Mark's Poetry Project
Joyface Poetry and Arts Collective (which, as a name, is much cooler than "Saint Mark's Poetry Project") was the brainchild of an artist, Paula Cisewski, and a poet, Jack Walsh, who were looking to create an informal, accessible space where the two disciplines could come together. They brought on a third conspirator, poet/musician/artist Patrick Werle, who happens to be a friend of mine. I gave him a call to get the backstory and the frontstory. (Joyface's pretty fabulous logo adorns this story.)
Patrick serves on the board for the co-op, and that's where he met the star-developer of 38th and Chicago, Mike Stebnitz. Stebnitz owns the building housing Blue Ox, Huie's gallery, the Covet
home design store, and a space that's been vacant for about three decades. Stebnitz offered Patrick and the rest of the Joyface crew the use of the empty space for a two-day pop-up gallery/reading/bookselling/music event this weekend—an event that will introduce Joyface to the neighborhood and, hopefully, give the organizers a sense of what to do next.
Raw but Ready
"It's a raw space," says Patrick, "but it's got real potential for what we want to be doing." (See the photo at left.) What they will be doing is a group reading and art exhibition on Saturday, which will feature some of the cities' most compelling artists and poets—including John Colburn, whose Spout
magazine and press are mainstays of our innovative poetry scene, and Paul Dickinson, who cofounded the late, fondly remembered, punk-meets-art Speedboat Gallery in Saint Paul. You can check out a partial (and growing) list of participants here
On Sunday, there's a potluck and community gathering where the Joyfacers will gauge attendees' response and harvest ideas on where the project might go next. "We haven't even discussed a permanent space yet," Patrick says, "and we'll be garnering ideas from people who have done similar things. Of course, having a permanent space would be phenomenal, but we're really taking this a step at a time."
Patrick adds that the whole neighborhood will be hopping on Saturday night—there's an evening event at the Fire Arts Center and Huie's gallery will be open, so there'll be artistic synergy aplenty in this ever-more-exciting corner of Minneapolis this weekend. I'll be there, and I'll tell you all about the fun I have.
Joyface Full Blast Bliss Reading and Art Show
December 1, 7-11 PM
December 2, 2-6 PM
3732 Chicago Avenue South, Mineapolis