Arts on Chicago

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The Arts on Chicago Initiative continues in 2014 with three unique arts activities: Peter Haakon Thompson’s Temporary Table Tennis Trailer, Esther Ouray’s In the Pursuit of Happiness, and video from David Luke’s Upstream Animated.

These Arts on Chicago 2014 projects will be on display at the 38th and Chicago BBQ and Music Festival on June 14.  This celebration is aligned with the 38th and Chicago Business Association’s 9th annual BBQ & Music Festival from 11am to 3pm on the 3700 block of Chicago Avenue. The event will include music from Joel Schaan & Friends, Bozza Jazz Band, Project 55407, and The Anchorman plus specialty food trucks, children’s activities and snow cones will be available as this busy intersection is closed for the day.

Funding for 2014 Arts on Chicago projects is provided, in part, by the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, as part of Blue Cross’ long-term commitment to tackling the four leading causes of heart disease and cancer: tobacco use, obesity, lack of physical activity and unhealthy eating.  Each of the projects combines art with active living in some fashion.

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Last month, our Co-Artistic Director Noël Raymond gave at talk at the National Innovation Summit for Arts & Culture on how Pillsbury House + Theatre is exploring how artists and artistic practice can infiltrate social service and neighborhood revitalization in a way that makes radical organizational restructuring easier, collaboration and collective impact successful, and neighborhoods better places to live (without displacing the people who live there):

Noël Raymond: Creative Practice + (Social Service and Neighborhood Revitalization) = Happy People from ArtsFwd on Vimeo.

Last Monday night I rode my bike to El Collegio Charter School.

It was time to show the world a little bit of Breaking Ice’s show about… what exactly? Gentrification? Changing neighborhoods? Revitalization? Development? Words get tricky in this context, so I leave you to choose your own.

The night was a beautiful one, warm and clear in late September and perhaps as a result our crowd was a light one. There were some friends and colleagues and some faces that were unfamiliar to me. There were men and women and children of various racial backgrounds watching the show this fine night.

As with just about any Breaking Ice performance, there was a structure in place that left room for mistakes to happen and discoveries to be made. An actor drops a line and another picks it up. The energy lags in one place then surges forward a moment later, riding the wave of a collective impulse to reach our audience, to connect with and communicate with them. We performed montages of misunderstanding, movement based sections about the challenge of the new in your neighborhood, and short scenes where family members disagree about how to be and move forward in this world. We end with a song, and then, thank you very much, we’re done.

But not really.

The best part of any Breaking Ice show is what comes after the show, or at least what the audience thinks is the show. After the semi-scripted portion of the event comes the talking. On Monday, Heidi Batz Rogers led our small band in a discussion about what they just saw, and this conversation was no different than most. Slow, halting at first and then the audience finds the topics that light their collective fire and they’re off to the races.

This group said things like, “I recognize everyone in this show,” and, ”Just when I thought I knew someone, they did something that surprised me,” and, ”That was just like my bus stop.” Did I mention we do a scene at a bus stop?

We strive with every show we do to hold a mirror up to the group we’re performing for so they can talk about what they see. That’s how Heidi always begins the talks: What did you see? It’s not always easy to see yourself, or the people you work with or live with or love dearly, onstage. Because we show people at their wisest, most generous, most thoughtless, most selfish, most human. Embracing the fullness of that humanity can be really challenging. Talking about the parts of yourself you don’t admire requires a special kind of bravery, and doing it with strangers means believing that people will listen to you and hear you and not write you off.

It ain’t easy.

Still, we all share. We all laugh at ourselves and we allow others to laugh with us. I hope you’ll join us if you can. We’ll be at Bancroft Elementary (1315 E. 38th St, Minneapolis) on October 7 at 7:00 pm, and Bethel Lutheran Church (4120 17th Ave S, Minneapolis) on October 14 at 7:00 pm. We’ll be there no matter the weather.

It’s a special room to be in. With you in it, things get just that much better.

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Pillsbury House + Theatre with its partners the Powderhorn Park Neighborhood Association, Professor Natasha Pestich, Upstream Arts, and with support from the Ward 8 Council Office of Elizabeth Glidden, was one of 47 organizations to receive funding from Artplace, a collaboration of twelve of the nation’s leading foundations, eight government agencies including the National Endowment for the Arts, and six financial institutions across the U.S. Arts on Chicago will implement TWENTY art projects in ONE YEAR to knit together existing creative assets in the Central, Powderhorn, Bancroft, Bryant communities along Chicago Avenue from 32nd Street to 42nd Street, using the process to build a framework for the ongoing support of a vibrant arts and cultural district.

The 20 Projects that make up Arts on Chicago:

Jenny Schmid, Drew Anderson & Andrea Steudel

Eye Site harnesses the ample network of privately owned motion sensor lighting around the Chicago Avenue corridor to charge glow-in-the dark images for an immersive nighttime tour through the area. This project makes clever use of the infrastructure of motion sensor lights that would not normally inspire art.

Masa Kawahara

Kawahara will work with community artists and adult volunteers to create the Chicago Avenue Stilting Club, a youth stilting and performance group. Thirty sets of stilts will be maintained by the club and made available to the community through training and stilt walking certification.

Dylan Fresco

What Grows Here? is a 60-minute storytelling performance/guided walking tour along Chicago Ave between 32nd-38th streets. Dylan Fresco and Michelle Barnes will lead the audience while sharing stories gathered from people who live, work, and go to school here. Stories will also be posted in the neighborhood and archived online.


StevenBe and the StevenBe Creative Community Foundation are proposing a “living” installation beginning at our location at 3448 Chicago and emanating outward through the corridor. This installation “lives” by evolving with new fiber art additions, yarn graffiti, community activity within our art garden, arts and crafts education, and the spread of creative projects along the corridor in line with our Foundation’s philosophy of giving back through the fiber arts.

Patricia Anderson

The Collage Collaborative will exhibit collages created by children in the community centers along the corridor. The images will be informed by conversations with adults and seniors about Chicago Avenue’s community. The artwork would be displayed at community centers, as postcards distributed at corridor businesses, and on the artist’s website.

Peter Haakon Thompson

The Mobile Sign Shop will function as a mobile, municipal sign shop designed to create hand-made name signs for the neighborhood with the goal of increasing residents’ connection to each other while giving people who travel on Chicago a sense of who lives here, adding residents names to our community spaces.

City Food Studio

A sculptural façade encapsulating the front of 3722 Chicago, using salvaged metal to create a cityscape echoing the art-deco silhouette of the adjacent strip of artist galleries, building an identity for the CityFoodStudio rental kitchen housed in the building, and reinforcing the developing urban/art vibe of the Chicago Avenue corridor. Built into the façade will be a set of “windows” in which local artists will be invited to develop and show their work.

Upstream Arts

Expanding the the Little Free Library project into the Chicago Avenue Corridor will provide free art and children’s books to pedestrians and neighbors along the 10 block stretch.

Powderhorn Park Neighborhood Association

PPNA will host a Paint the Pavement events at locations and times to be determined.

Breaking Ice

Breaking Ice is a 16 year old program of Pillsbury House Theatre that uses improvisation and ensemble-based theatre to confront the difficult communication issues that arise from cultural friction. Breaking Ice will customize a performance with input from the neighborhood on the relevant issues of gentrification around Powderhorn, Central, Bryant and Bancroft. What are the opportunities to neighborhood change? What are the fears? How do we work together for positive change that benefits everyone?

Stephanie Rogers

An urban nature walk that examines the ecology of Chicago Avenue. At least 30 signs combining images and descriptive text will be installed in public spaces, creating serendipitous encounters. Photography will focus on a macro view, encouraging a closer look at our surroundings.

Wing Young Huie

Photographing the cultural diversity along the corridor using concepts to connect neighbors who don’t know each other well or at all, and traditional documentary techniques, accompanied with explanatory text based on interviews with those photographed. One hundred photos will be exhibited inside ten businesses, with separate openings at each venue.

Natasha Pestich

A travelling gallery, the “PHAT mobile” (Pillsbury House and Theatre mobile), that will travel through Powderhorn, Bancroft, Bryant and Central neighborhoods, showcasing the work of resident youth primarily, and offering arts-based workshops and public events.

Loretta Day + TAWU Artist Group

TAWU Artist Group will transform the bus stops between 32nd and 42nd into “Art Stops.” Every trash receptacle and bench will become a work of art. The "Art Stops” will blend into the Chicago Corridor by reflecting the area’s cultural diversity as well as complimenting surrounding businesses.

Chicago Avenue Fire Arts Center

A mural installation for the highly visible north wall of the building on 38th and Chicago. The mural design combines elements of the building’s movie theater history with an homage to the fiery work being produced at CAFAC and incorporates sculptural metal pieces and LED elements, fabricated by youth from the Hennepin County Home School.

Eric Rieger (HOTTEA) & Forrest Wozniak

This project includes a mural and sculptural elements about “Universal Pleasantry.” It will speak of our human condition to fill the void within our lives and how artwork can be a tool to convey messages like this.

Molly Van Avery

At the heart of this project is the act of people writing and receiving poetry. The poetry will not be written in isolation but will instead be born out of and inspired by the street it will be written on: Chicago Avenue (through use of the “poetry mobile” a writing desk on wheels that will be a piece of art in and of itself.).

Kelly Brazil

Welding 5 separate bicycle racks along proposed corridor incorporating themes or flavors of each location and completed in partnership with youth from the Trans Youth Support Network (at 34th and Chicago).

Powderhorn Park Neighborhood Association

PPNA will wrap 6 utility boxes along the Chicago Avenue corridor with collaged photographs from the Powderhorn365 photography project ( Images will be voted on and selected by residents and community members.

Pillsbury House + Theatre

An exterior public gathering space at the corner of 35th and Chicago that transforms a drab area into a vibrant public square. The vision for this project was developed by the PH&T staff and community stakeholders through the Pillsbury House and Theatre Cultural Community Hub Institute sessions.
What is a Placemaking art project? ¿Que es un proyecto de Desarrollo de Arte Comunitario?
Will Arts on Chicago develop and maintain a comprehensive online resource for all things placemaking? ¿Va ya Artes Por Chicago desarrollar y mantener un recurso en la red comprensivo para todos los artes de desarrollo?
What does the “institute” process involve for artists? ¿Qué significa el “Instituto” proceso de participación para los artistas?
Does my project have to happen on Chicago Avenue specifically? ¿Mi proyecto va a tener que pasar por la Avenida Chicago específicamente?
What if my work samples are not “placemaking” work samples? Does this hinder my chance at getting awarded a project? ¿Qué pasa si mis muestras de trabajo no son “Desarrollo de Arte Comunitario” muestras de trabajo? ¿Esto impide mi oportunidad de conseguir que mi proyecto sea ayudado?
What is the panel’s decision process and who does the panel represent? ¿Qué es el proceso de la decisión del panel y quien representa el panel?
Is it better if I apply as an individual or as a collaborative team? ¿Es mejor si se aplica de forma individual o en equipo colaborativo?
How many “permanent” verses “temporary” projects does AOC want to see? ¿Cuántas “permanentes” versos “temporales” proyectos quedara AOC ver?
What is the hard end date for completion of projects? ¿Cuál es la final fecha para los proyectos realizados?
Can you submit more than one project to Arts on Chicago?¿Se puede presentar más de un proyecto para Artes Por Chicago?
If my proposal is not accepted in the first round of applications, can I contact the leadership team for advice on how to improve my application to submit for the second round in November? ¿Si mi propuesta no es aceptada en la primera ronda de solicitudes, puedo contactar al equipo de liderazgo para obtener consejos sobre cómo mejorar mi solicitud a presentar para la segunda ronda en noviembre?
If I live or work in one of the 4 target neighborhoods, but want to collaborate with Minneapolis artists who live outside the geographic parameters outlined in your eligibility requirements, is that possible? ¿Si vivo o trabajo en uno de los 4 vecindarios específicos, pero me gustaría colaborar con artistas de Minneapolis que viven fura de los parámetros geográficos descritos en sus requisitos de elegibilidad, será posible?
If my studio is housed in one of the neighborhoods eligible to apply to Arts on Chicago, but I live and work elsewhere in the city, can I still apply? Si mi estudio está ubicado en uno de los vecindarios que pueden solicitar a Artes Por Chicago, pero vivo y trabajo en otras partes de la cuidad, ¿puedo solicitar todavía?
  If you don't see your answer here, feel free to contactArts on Chicago Community Liaison Mike Hoyt.
Photos on Chicago Avenue from 32nd to 42nd. Where do you find inspiration?