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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
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