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Arts and Culture : Development News

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The Brick rock venue coming to Warehouse District

A new concert venue called The Brick is preparing to open next month in downtown Minneapolis’s Warehouse District.

The band Jane’s Addiction created a buzz about the club when it announced its March 19 show would be held at The Brick, according to a City Pages story.

The club is going into the space that once housed Club 3 Degrees, a Christian, youth-oriented rock club that continues to host occasional shows elsewhere.   

The Brick's developer and owner, AEG Live, which is the live entertainment division of the Los Angeles-based AEG, is renovating the building that dates back to the early 1900s, according to its website.

The place will have a section for reserved and cabaret-style seating while its “multi-level floor plan allows for incredible sight lines,” according to the site. Also, the club will have a capacity of 2,000 people, along with a basement-level bar that will be able to accommodate a crowd of up to 400.

Although the venue's interior will be similar to the former club, it'll get a new paint job, carpeting, and signage, according to Joe Litvag, senior vice president of AEG Live.

"Obviously a big difference will be the 'vibe' of the space, which will be based on the staff we’re hiring and the artists performing on stage," he says via email. "The previous tenant really did a good job of building a first-class, flexible space, so much of the look will be the same."

"Our goal is to grow the 'live entertainment pie' in the Twin Cities," he says. "Another venue ideally means more shows in downtown Minneapolis, and more shows means more foot traffic for local businesses downtown."

In a blog posting from The Current, The Brick's general manager Jeff Kahr, adds that the club’s offerings will be diverse: “The venue itself will lend itself well to all types of touring artists, from rock, country and pop to R&B, jazz, comedy and more."

Source: Joe Litvag, Senior Vice President, AEG Live; Brick information; The Current  
Writer: Anna Pratt

Fulton Beer making progress on its taproom

Fulton Beer is adding a taproom to its brewery in downtown Minneapolis's Warehouse District. 

Ryan Petz, president and co-founder of Fulton Beer, explains that although the taproom will be similar to a bar, it'll be more of an extension of the brewery. 

For starters, its menu will be limited to the varieties of beer that are made on the premises. “It’s not a brewpub,” he says. “The purpose is to get people to try and buy locally-brewed beers.”   

Referencing the company’s humble beginnings in a garage in Southwest Minneapolis, the taproom will have an industrial, “garage-esque” look, he says.

The space will be characterized by sealed concrete floors, an exposed ceiling, vintage lighting, and a dark-stained oak bar with a concrete top. Shades of gray, black, white, and green will run throughout, which will also help set it apart from the building's production-related functions.

From the taproom, visitors will also get a view into the brewery. “That’s the fun thing. You get to see what’s going on in there,” he says.

It connects with a growing local food movement in which “A lot of people are really interested in being closer to food or beverages and where they come from," says Petz.

Although he couldn’t disclose an exact dollar amount, Petz says that the taproom's build-out ranges in the six figures. “We really transformed 40 percent of the building into a gathering space," he adds. 

The taproom is slated to open in March.

Source: Ryan Petz, president and co-founder, Fulton Beer
Writer: Anna Pratt

$174 million RiverFIRST proposal gets nod from Minneapolis park committee

RiverFIRST, a plan that would re-imagine a 5.5-mile stretch of the Mississippi riverfront in Minneapolis with new parks and trails, is entering into an early design phase.

The proposal, which will go before the full park board for approval in March, includes a riverfront trail system and a number of neighborhood-accessible parks that are being referred to as the Farview Park extension, Scherer Park District, North Side Wetlands Park, and Downtown Gateway Park, according to project spokesperson Janette Law.

(To see a description of each of these parks, go here.) 

The plan, which has a $174 million price tag, spaces out the projects over the next five years, with construction starting in 2013.

It also lays out a broader 20-year vision for the area along with a number of guiding principles, she says.

The planning committee is “asking for authorization of the completion of next steps,” which center mainly on the Scherer Park site and the 26th and 28th avenues North greenways, Law says. “The major news is that the park board is moving ahead on getting schematic designs."

RiverFIRST may also help lay the groundwork for the city’s Above the Falls master plan, which includes a "rich mix of land uses," including recreation along the Mississippi's east and west banks above St. Anthony Falls, according to park information.

RiverFIRST originated as the winning proposal from the design team Tom Leader Studio and Kennedy & Violich Architecture (TLS/KVA) as a part of the international Minneapolis Riverfront Design Competition, which the park board and the Minneapolis Parks Foundation jointly held in late 2010.   

The proposal stood out for the way it speaks to such contemporary challenges as dealing with water, the “green economy,” community health, and mobility, according to a prepared statement about the project.

After the contest wrapped up, the effort became known as the Minneapolis Riverfront Development Initiative.

“It’s an exciting vision for the Upper Riverfront, with the potential to bring the same water amenities to North and Northeast that South currently enjoys,” says Law, adding, “that area is significant locally and nationally. It presents the prospect of creating the most new park land in the city since the parks were founded over 100 years ago.”   

Source: Janette Law, RiverFIRST spokesperson
Writer: Anna Pratt

The Mill creates space for 'makers' of all types to collaborate

The Mill is a kind of coworking space for "makers" in the industrial arts. 

It includes a woodworking and metal shop, classroom, laser cutting and three-dimensional printing equipment, and a gallery space in its Northeast Minneapolis building, according to its website.

Previously, the 6,000-square-foot warehouse space was occupied by the Land O’Lakes company and later, a company called Hillcrest Development, according to The Mill’s founder, Brian Boyle.

Most recently, the warehouse had been used to manufacture washers and dryers before it sat vacant for some time, he adds.

When Boyle started to build out The Mill, which officially opened on Jan. 21, the space had an open floor plan, “with no walls or phone. It was just a big box,” he says.

That being said, “It’s a great location with great light,” he says, adding, “One wall is all windows.”

Right now, Boyle is still in the process of dividing the space to accommodate different kinds of maker-related activities, including an area for large assembly projects. 

“Making” is a new term that literally describes making things, "something that has been going on forever," he says. Boyle, who took inspiration from similar places in San Francisco, wants to “add the capabilities that this equipment affords for whoever wants to do it.” 

In this setting, “Anyone who wants to fabricate something can collaborate with others.”

“One of the great benefits is the idea of shared resources,” he says. “It’s hard to justify the purchase of this equipment for individuals.” It’s also a way to train people to use the equipment safely and responsibly.

Further, with people who have different areas of expertise to turn to, “It expands people’s creativity and what they can do.”

Source: Brian Boyle, The Mill
Writer: Anna Pratt

Como Park neighborhood begins planning a community garden

In St. Paul’s Como Park neighborhood, some neighbors are putting their heads together to identify the ideal spot for a new community garden.

Como Park already has a number of community flower gardens, but over the past year, some residents have expressed interest in planting vegetables somewhere, too, according to Jessie Bronk, the administrator and coordinator for the District 10 Como Community Council.

Recently, the neighborhood group formed a planning committee to help nail down the details. The eight-member committee, which had its first meeting earlier this month, involves both renters and homeowners in the neighborhood. “All are avid gardeners,” she says, adding, “It’s helpful to have all of that experience.”  

Since it’s so early in the process, the project’s budget and scope, along with the garden's location, have yet to be determined. “We’re aiming for a space that can accommodate at least 15 plots,” she says.

At this point, the group has narrowed its list to seven possible locations, which it plans to look into over the next month. For starters, in the case of each piece of land, “We need to find out who owns the land and whether there’s a water source nearby,” she says. 

It's a lot of work, but community gardens have plenty of benefits.

“[They're] a great way to connect neighbors, build community and beautify the neighborhood,” Bronk says, adding that they can help reduce crime as well.

She also sees community gardening as a good opportunity to reach out to diverse groups in the neighborhood. “It’s a way to make our district stronger,” she says.

Additionally, community gardens encourage local food production, healthy eating, and physical fitness.  

The group hopes to begin gardening this spring. The fact that it's been such a mild winter has made it “fun to dream and plan for spring,” Bronk says.  

Source: Jessie Bronk, administrator and coordinator, District 10 Como Community Council
Writer: Anna Pratt

An artistic solution to revitalizing Eat Street

Soon, a portion of the commercial corridor in Minneapolis’s Whittier neighborhood will become a temporary outdoor gallery space.

Original artwork from local artists will dress up a number of vacant storefront windows on Eat Street (Nicollet Avenue) in April, and will stay up for about six weeks.

It’s a creative way to showcase art and to advertise spaces that need to be leased, according to Joan Vorderbruggen, who is coordinating the project through the Whittier Business Association.

Vorderbruggen, who is a Whittier resident, says that local photographer Wing Young Huie, whose community-minded work has graced various storefronts in Minneapolis and St. Paul, inspired her.

After doing some digging, Vorderbruggen, who designs window displays for businesses professionally, stumbled upon similar programs in other cities across the country that had been successful. “The spaces have been leased a lot faster when they’ve participated in this,” she says.  

Seeing that, she approached the Whittier Business Association, which was supportive.

Right now, the Business Association is applying for grant money to help offset the pilot program's costs, but it'll mainly be a do-it-yourself-kind of thing, she says.

Separately, the Longfellow neighborhood has a similar project underway, which The Line covered here.

This week, the group is putting out a call for artists; artists who live, work, or go to school in the neighborhood can apply to submit work to the project. It can include paintings, sculpture, fashion, yarn bombing, and murals, or just about anything else that’s doable as a window display, she says.  

The neighborhood group will also be lining up a number of business and property owners who are willing to participate, with a goal of getting at least 6 to 10 storefronts in the mix.  

Besides giving artists a venue to show their work, it’s about revitalizing and beautifying the corridor. “It’s kind of a free staging service to property owners,” she says. “It brings foot traffic to the space.”   

When the exhibit opens up in April, the group will host walking tours of the storefront displays. “The hope is that you’ll be walking down Eat Street and there’ll be art everywhere,” Vorderbruggen says.  

Source: Joan Vorderbruggen, artist, Whittier
Writer: Anna Pratt

Indeed Brewing to go into rehabbed Solar Arts Building

Soon, a building in Minneapolis's Northeast Arts District that sat vacant for a year will become a hub for beer, art, and solar power.

It's been dubbed the Solar Arts Building, according to Nathan Berndt, a cofounder of Indeed Brewing Company, which will be its anchor tenant on the first floor.

In the past, the 1914 building had various uses, including housing a Sears Roebuck distribution center and more recently, an electrical transformer company, before it went through foreclosure stages, according to Indeed Brewing information.

Besides the brewery, artist-geared spaces, some of which have already been snatched up, will fill the building's remaining two floors.

It’s an ideal location for the new brewing company, which recently signed a lease for the space with building owner Duane Arens, Berndt says. “We’re involved in the community and we support being in a place for people to come together,” especially artists, he says. “We like being around creative people.”

Another dimension of the brewing company will be a public taproom, for which the design is still being developed.

A strong visual feature will be the building’s original wood columns, which lend a turn-of-the-last-century warehouse feel, he says.

Sustainability is also an important aspect of the building’s overall rehab. On the building’s rooftop a sizable solar array will be installed. It’s also getting new energy-efficient windows and mechanical systems, Berndt says.  

The effort to go green is something that’s important to the brewing company, as well, he adds.

“This sleepy dead-end adjacent to the Northstar Commuter Rail tracks will be a bustling intersection of art, craft beer, solar power, and urban revitalization,” the brewing company’s website states.

Indeed plans to open this summer.

Source: Nathan Berndt, cofounder, Indeed Brewing Company
Writer: Anna Pratt

After nearly 25 years, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden in need of an $8.5 million makeover

The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and nearby Cowles Conservatory, popular attractions at the Walker Art Center, are due for a facelift, according to Phillip Bahar, the museum’s chief of operations and administration.

It’s been almost 25 years since the sculpture garden was inaugurated, he says.

Back then, the garden, which is run by the museum on city parkland, was the “first major urban sculpture garden in America,” and it became a model for many others.  

The University of Minnesota’s Landscape Arboretum ran the conservatory in the beginning, and the Minnesota Department of Transportation constructed the colorful bridge that connects Loring Park and the sculpture garden.

“It was an amazing example of what can happen when the community comes together around one idea,” Bahar says.

Since then, over 8 million people from all over the world have visited the sculpture garden, which is also the most tagged photo subject on the photo-sharing site, flickr, he says. “It carries the message of Minnesota and the arts.”

However, over the years the garden’s soil has become so compacted that water doesn’t drain properly anymore. It needs to be refreshed to “loosen up the topsoil.” Granite pavers that have settled into the land also need to be reset. “Those are some of the things that are hit the hardest by water,” he says.

A new drainage system that’s been designed for the garden would capture rainwater to irrigate the land, a process that's especially useful for the famous Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture, which has a water feature.

Beyond that, the conservatory’s mechanical systems have become outdated, and its greenhouse use is also nearing an end. The conservatory will probably be turned into an exhibition space of some sort, he explains.

Altogether, it’s an $8.5 million project, which the state legislature is considering in its current bonding bill. To be clear, he says, the park board is making the funding request. As such, “None of this money goes to the art. It goes to infrastructure and landscape,” the sculpture garden’s “hard parts.”

Depending on how the legislative session goes, work on the garden could begin as soon as the fall.  

“We have this beloved state asset,” Bahar says, and, just like any other major infrastructure project, the garden needs work to “replenish it to its glory when it was new.”

Source: Phillip Bahar, chief of operations and administration, Walker Art Center
Writer: Anna Pratt

Historic Uptown Theatre to undergo extensive renovation

The historic Uptown Theatre, a well-known fixture in Minneapolis’s Uptown area, closed on Jan. 31 for renovations.

Its operator, Landmark Theatres, which is based in Los Angeles, plans to reopen the place this spring, according to a prepared statement from the company.

The 900-seat theater is a destination for foreign, art and cult films, including the long-running "Rocky Horror Picture Show."
As a part of the renovation, Landmark plans to turn the concession stand into a full bar, according to a prepared statement from the company. The theater will also get a giant new screen, luxury seats, and a digital projector. Its distinctive neon sign will remain intact, and  and so will its balcony, which is one of the few of its era in use locally.

The existing Uptown Theatre was constructed in 1939 after the 1913 building on the site burned down. Originally it was known as the Lagoon Theater.

It’s defined by a classic Streamline Moderne style employed by its designers, architecture firm Liebenberg and Kaplan, which also did the Suburban World Theatre down the street, according to the Star Tribune.

The Uptown Theater last underwent a major remodeling in the late 1960s, the Star Tribune story states.   

Alicia Garatoni, who works at Keller Williams Realty and serves as the vice president of the Uptown Association, welcomes the changes. “I’m thrilled, both as someone who loves independent and foreign films and has a business in the Uptown area.”  

“It’s in keeping with the forward movement of Uptown,” including the remodel of Calhoun Square and a number of other area renovations and development projects. “I’m glad it’s getting attention and will drive traffic into the Uptown area.”  

She says it’ll help the area be a well-rounded destination center. “So much is going on in Uptown,” she says. “There’s a lot of reasons to come to Uptown and this is just one more.”  

“I love [the theater] because it has an old-time feeling to it. It’s so charming,” she adds.   

Source: Alicia Garatoni, realtor, Keller Williams and vice president, Uptown Association  
Writer: Anna Pratt

New Butcher & the Boar restaurant mural livens up 12th and Hennepin

A vibrant mural at 12th Street and Hennepin Avenue South uniquely calls attention to the coming Butcher and the Boar restaurant while also sprucing up a previously nondescript corner.

Local artist Adam Turner, whose work also adorns Creative Lighting in St. Paul and the Surly Brewery in Minneapolis, says, "All the work the company is doing is really upping the beauty of that area. That building was kind of rundown. It’s bringing new life to it.” 

The 20-foot by 20-foot mural, which could be enlarged later, pictures a blond-haired woman who is poised with a vintage-looking bicycle. A silhouette of the Minneapolis skyline is behind her while oversized stalks of wheat frames the figure.

It's characterized by fall colors.

On the whole, the image speaks to the clientele the restaurant is planning to attract along with the area’s bike and beer culture, he says. "The mural is about the vibe [the restaurateurs] want to have."

As if to demonstrate that, a woman who resembled the figure in the mural, who had a similar bike, posed in front of the scene one night for a photo.  

The mural came together over the summer and fall months.

During that time, the parking lot that the mural faces was being redone, so he worked in the mud. Nevertheless, he’s enjoyed being in the elements.

Already attracted a lot of comments from passersby who spotted him working. “Hopefully a lot of people will see it and like it.”   

He hopes it paves the way for other businesses to do more work like this and “not be afraid to come up with a proposal that’s a little fun and expressive of its views.”

Source: Adam Turman, mural artist, Butcher and the Boar
Writer: Anna Pratt

Photographer Wing Young Huie explores intersections in four neighborhoods

Local photographer Wing Young Huie, who is well known for his public art installations that explore everyday life in the city, is trying to line up funding for a new project, called, “We Are the Other."

It centers on strangers who cross paths within the four-neighborhood area surrounding his gallery, The Third Place, at 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis. He also lives in the neighborhood.

“The Other” refers to people who “know each other slightly, but for whatever reason or perceived difference there is a barrier in getting to know them well,” he states in project materials.

“We Are the Other” builds on “The University Avenue Project,” which also forged connections between near-strangers, he says.

As a part of the recent project, which turned the St. Paul avenue into a six-mile public gallery, Huie used a series of questions to prompt conversations between residents.

He asked students in a school, for example, to go outside of their social circle, and to pose questions to one another such as, "What's your favorite word?" or "How do you think others see you?"

He documented them in black-and-white photos that feature their chalkboard scribbles. 

Similarly, for his current project,Huie is bringing random people together, either on the street or at a business or a community organization, with the chalkboard.

The photographer will also host related workshops to encourage others to do the same.  

Eventually, the project, which will incorporate photos from the workshops, will take the form of a “mobile community art center,” changing locations every week or so.

Altogether, it advances the idea behind The Third Place, which is also a sociological term that describes informal places where people congregate outside of home and work.

“Making connections, getting outside of our bubble, is where the idea of 'The Other' came from,” he says.

“In the times we live in, everyone wants to be connected but it’s so difficult to be connected. This is an era that’s made face-to-face interaction difficult.”

Source: Wing Young Huie
Writer: Anna Pratt

Dominium Development surveys the arts community to help shape live/work spaces

To gauge  interest in a couple of its redevelopment projects, Plymouth-based Dominium Development and Acquisition hosted a community meeting on Jan. 9 at the Mill City Museum in Minneapolis.

Dominium plans to convert two historic sites--the old Jacob Schmidt Brewery in St. Paul and Pillsbury ‘A’ Mill in Minneapolis--into artist live/work spaces. (See The Line’s stories here and here.)

With the help of PLACE, a nonprofit agency that specializes in this kind of housing, Dominium has created an online survey to get additional input.

The survey asks people to weigh in on everything from possible rent prices to amenities, to help shape the common spaces and individual units in both developments.

Owen Metz, a senior development associate at Dominium, says that the company wants to “assess the market, to see what interest there is from the arts community,” adding, “We want to find out what their motivations are for living there.”

Dominium is hoping to hear from 10,000 area artists. “We’ll use the feedback to guide and drive some of the decisions moving forward, as we design units and common spaces,” which will allow for flexibility in the design, he says.

He adds that the company is reaching out to artists working in many different media.  

Depending on the survey’s results, a photography studio, for example, could be incorporated into one or both of the housing projects.  

Whatever the reaction is, “We’ll take it to heart and try to accommodate it as much as we can,” he says.

Source: Owen Metz, senior development associate, Dominium Development
Writer: Anna Pratt

New map makes navigating the skyways easier

Last winter, when Matt Forrester worked in downtown Minneapolis, he often took the skyways to get around, but, at first it was challenging to find his way.

Forrester, who then worked at Thrivent Financial, frequently used the indoor walkways to get to the Minneapolis Convention Center. It took about five tries to master his route.

“It’s a terribly confusing system if you’re not there day-to-day, or if you’re not in your own office," he says.

That's where his cartography skills came in handy. Around the same time, he and his business partner, Kate Chanba, started a map-making company, Carticulate.

The existing skyway map, which the city has been using for a long time, is “really bad. There are a few things wrong,” for starters, and it’s difficult for those who are color-blind to read.

Forrester and Chanba put together an alternative skyway map to address those issues. When they published it online, it led to a huge spike on their website, he says.  

Subway maps like Harry Beck’s 1933 London Underground inspired them.

Their map shows multiple ways to get from point A to point B. Each building acts as a subway “stop” with seven different “lines,” which are color-coded.

They eliminated the background geography, such as cross streets, which helped simplify things. “Most people aren’t leaving the skyways,” he says.

Their goal is to get the map into the skyways, with some corresponding signage. “It definitely trumps any other map that’s out there,” he says, since other maps don’t clearly show connecting routes that go through multiple buildings. 

The challenge is that there’s no one entity governing the skyways.

Even though the pair moved their company to New York this month, they're staying the course. “We’d love to help out the area and benefit the city. We want to do what we can to make it better.”

Source: Matt Forrester, Carticulate
Writer: Anna Pratt

Following $500,000 build-out, George and the Dragon pub to open in Southwest Minneapolis

A new brewpub that takes its cues from old England,  George and the Dragon, is coming to Southwest Minneapolis. 

Fred Navarro, who co-owns the business with his wife, Stacy, says that the first hurdle was to get neighborhood approval. From there, the pair got to work on the financial side of things. “That’s been the long part of the process,” he says.

George and the Dragon will have about 1,850 square feet in a newly-constructed building that replaces  one that burned down a couple of years ago. It's a one-story structure with a brick facade and a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood feel, he says.

The retail shop Patina will join the pub in the building, along with a to-be-announced tenant.

George and the Dragon is starting from scratch, in terms of the build-out and equipment, he says.

Navarro and his wife worked closely with architect John Abbott to recreate the feel of a traditional English bar or “public house,” one that “feels like it’s been there a long time.”

“Ultimately a public house is a place for the community and for neighbors to gather,” he says. “That was kind of a driving factor for what we wanted the design to look like.” 

The Atwater-based company TimeWorn is creating a wood-paneled interior in the pub, using reclaimed wood. In the basement will be a kitchen, offices and storage, and cooler space.

Altogether, the project totals nearly $500,000, Navarro says. The couple hope to open the pub by April 1.

Source: Fred Navarro, co-owner, George and the Dragon
Writer: Anna Pratt

Seven and Sixty Productions crowdsources film project about Minnesota winters

Mary McGreevy and Susan Bernstein, the filmmakers behind Seven and Sixty Productions, briefly documented the pluses of Twin Cities living in a short film that went viral last year, called “Why We’re Here.”

This year, the pair is building on that idea with a new film in progress that will pay homage to Minnesota winters. They were inspired in part by filmmaker Andrew Clancy’s movie titled “A Year in New York,” according to McGreevy.

“Winter is such a defining theme for us,” McGreevy says via email, adding, “We love it. We hate it. We get through it. We celebrate it. We’re both interested in the idea that we’re surrounded by beauty in our everyday lives,” a fact which, she says, often goes unnoticed.

They like the idea of putting together “small pieces of art that reach out and grab hold of people.”

They’re asking for three-to-four-minute video submissions that speak to the winter theme. Submissions are due on Feb. 13.

Skiers, ice fishing, texting with gloves on, and the iconic Winter Carnival are some examples of the kinds of things that people could shoot, the submission guidelines explain. “We're looking for work that captures the emotion and beauty of people, nature, and our surroundings in the context of winter,” the guidelines state.

The filmmakers will stitch together the most compelling images and set the whole thing to the music of a local artist. They want to “develop a collective picture of how we see it, feel about it, and live through it, to show ourselves, and to show others who don’t live here,” the guidelines say.  

Metro Magazine is sponsoring the project.

The pair is also working on a Web series that profiles colorful, quirky local personalities.

Source: Mary McGreevy, filmmaker, Seven and Sixty Productions
Writer: Anna Pratt
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