Drive down West Broadway from Washington avenue and you’ll undoubtedly notice abandoned businesses, half empty strip malls and a couple of fast food joints. The drive between North Emerson and North Penn is an entirely different story. Right beside the hair and nail salon on the corner of Emerson and West Broadway is a mural created by Juxtaposition Arts. Their small storefront building next door is a hub of art making activity that boasts textile design, painting and printmaking classes for youth living on the Northside. They have entirely transformed the whole block into a creative hive for Northsiders to be proud of and enjoy. So, it’s fitting that the 6th Annual FLOW arts festival should begin here.
The festival was created to celebrate the creative energy that exists on the Northside. This year’s FLOW was all about recognizing thousands of volunteers that helped with the clean-up and recovery efforts after the May 22nd tornado.
“FLOW is a wonderful time to celebrate arts, culture and people coming together. This year is especially special because of the tornado. This is about recognizing the volunteers who helped with the clean up and who remain committed to the Northside,” says State Representative Bobby Jo Champion (58B)
On Penn Ave North, city and state leaders like Champion recognized community members, some of whom grew up “over north” with a drum and dance number, poetry, salsa dancing at the Capri Theater and a large group photo taken by 365 Photography. Expert chainsaw artists were there to carve trees downed by the tornado. Their efforts were auctioned off and the proceeds will go to help the victims.
“This is an art crawl, but it’s also a time when people who wouldn’t normally come into the neighborhood come into the neighborhood to see what our assets are,” says Juxtaposition Arts director Roger Cummings. Those assets include the great diversity and high concentration of youth in North Minneapolis.
While clean up and recovery efforts are far from over, FLOW was a chance for Northsiders to remember what makes their community special and what they have to celebrate when the last pieces of debris are finally hauled away.
Sondra Samuels “Welcome to the wonderful, wonderful, incredible, Northside! Yeah! “
Rep. Bobby Jo Champion “Flow is just a wonderful time to celebrate arts and culture and community and people coming together. And this year is, is especially special because of the tornado and for us also to celebrate the volunteers, those who helped to bring North Minneapolis back to where it is right now today and also celebrate those who are going to remain committed for the future.”
Sondra Samuels “May 22nd changed our community. And in every disaster like the tornado, there is a seed of grace. And that seed of grace was six thousand volunteers that came to this community. That include community members and community organizations that stepped up and said ‘the Northside is our beloved city and we are here because it makes a difference to us what happens.”
Trish Jones “This entire poem is made up of Northside Community members voices and perspectives on how they feel about living in this community, pre, during, and post the tornado.”
“Glass breaking and hearts shaking, this is a moment of black rage. The sky has gone bright blue with an eerie grey.
“I live in a time of tragedy, of soldiers, of participation.
“Transitional, spiritual awareness. The new truth!”
Rep. Bobby Jo Champion: “And it’s a unique opportunity to think about a new vision for North Minneapolis. What were some of the things that were missing before that we can put in place right now? And how can we continue this spirit of cooperation and collaboration in order to make our desired outcomes a reality.
“And so it’s pretty exciting for businesses to be working together, non-profits to be working together, governmental agencies to work together and for all of us to gather around a common vision. So we’re looking for sustainability and for that vision to produce positivity.
(Chain saws buzzing)
“And this is Forecast Public Art. These guys are carving that were downed during the tornado in North Minneapolis. And they’re going to be auctioning them off to raise money for the West Broadway Business Area Coalition. We’re happy to be a part of this.
Roger Cummings “FLOW I think is an art crawl, but it’s also bringing people who wouldn’t traditionally come into the neighborhood, into the neighborhood to show what the assets that we have and we can produce and provide as compared to what people see on TV or read in the paper that is like negative.
“And so it’s a mix of people here which is super. More youth. More youth than any other place in the state. We have more people of color here in this condensed area than any other place.
(In front of mural) “He is holding up the youth, in that youth have a lot of good ideas and not… and a lot of non-traditional ideas, and a lot of risk-taking ideas. And that’s what we need to be able to change the community in a better way.”
“We are here to love each other and work together.”
“So skip the guns and bring the real tools out.”
“Peace. Power. Presence. Beauty. Northside!”
Rep. Bobby Jo Champion “And I’m excited about the future. I’m excited about the fact that this unfortunate natural disaster showed us that we can work together: strangers helping strangers, neighbors helping neighbors, and just all of us working together for the common good of each person and just demonstrating our humanity. So the past, the present and the future I think is really bright.”