Main Street

Wing Young Huie's Lake Street portfolio.

It wasn't too long after moving to Minneapolis 16 years ago that I discovered Lake Street. I'd always been fascinated by inner-city neighborhoods, having grown up in the Central Hillside, the closest thing Duluth has to an urban core. I was just starting to explore street photography, and my initial forays around Chicago and Lake produced good results. Shortly after that, I moved to St. Paul and my interests were drawn elsewhere.

In the spring of 1996, after spending two years photographing the Frogtown neighborhood in St. Paul and another year putting together an outdoor exhibit and a book from that work, I started looking for another place to explore. By then I was somewhat familiar with Lake Street, or at least the parts of it where I shopped and ate, which was mostly in Uptown and LynLake. I had rarely gone back to Chicago and Lake.

When I did, I discovered that Lake Street displays an incredible array of disparate realities--from The Gap to Kaplan Brothers to M.R.'s Hip Hop Shop, from Lunds to the Supermercado de Las Americas to V.F. Oriental Foods (which, although there is nothing outside to indicate it, houses an excellent Hmong noodle shop), from Uhuru Books to Uncle Hugo's Science Fiction to Ingebretsen Scandinavian Gifts, from trendy enclave to war zone, from Old World to modern world to Third World. In short, it seems that jammed into that six-mile stretch is the gamut of the evolving American urban experience.

Wing Young Huie

Last November I moved into the Powderhorn neighborhood, just off of Lake and 15th Avenue. With the assistance of a Bush Foundation Artist's Fellowship I have been photographing and interviewing people in the various neighborhoods connected by Lake Street. Here are some of the results. I plan to keep photographing and intend to have an outdoor exhibit on Lake Street in 1999.

-- Wing Young Huie

Editor's Note: Selections from Huie's Lake Street project will be on display at the Hennepin County Government Center October 7 to November 21, and at Minneapolis's Thomas Barry Fine Arts gallery starting October 18.

[[Photo 3

Hmong New Life Victory Assembly of God]]

Basically we're trying to focus on the Hmong people, trying to recruit them so that they know who Jesus is and what he's doing for our people. The service is all in Hmong. Most of the people who worship here are the older ones. Right now we have about 35 families.

The Bible says if you don't praise the Lord, then the rocks and the mountains will praise the Lord. That is why we are so emotional when we pray. Some people are touched and are healed. We like to shout it out loud. We move around. We believe in speaking in tongues as a way of staying in the presence of God. We believe in faith healing. We've seen a lot of miracles.

[[Photo 4

Ingebretsen Scandinavian Gifts]]

This was my first time doing this. My older sister has done it for years and I though it was neat that I got to do it. It was scary at first because I felt funny dressed up like that. But after you've been in it for a while you don't think that you have it on.

Everybody at school thinks I look Swedish. We were making a float about Sweden and people kept coming up to me and saying, "You look so Swedish." And I just said, "Yeah. I'm Swedish." I think people think that all Swedes have blond hair and they dress up in costumes. People think I have an accent like a Swedish person. I don't think so at all.

[[Photo 5

Quinceañera]]

I was born in Mexico. I have been here 12 years. In our culture when you turn 15 you have a quinceañera celebration. It is when a young girl comes into womanhood. It makes me feel elegant and proud. It's been a dream for me.

The quinceañera is expensive. But the cost is shared by all my godparents. I have a godparent for the cake, one for the DJ, one for the dress, one for the bouquet. There is a godparent for almost everything that is part of the celebration.

Even though I am still dependent on my mom I now feel more dependent on myself. It's a step to move on and not play with dolls anymore. It's part of the custom to be given a dressed-up doll. It signifies that this will be my last doll, the last toy that I will receive. Now if I am to receive a gift it should be a gift for a woman, not a child. This also gives me the green light to date and have boyfriends. Now I can go out and enjoy myself with my friends. I have more freedom.

But the most important part of the whole quinceañera is the coming together of all my family, relatives, and friends in church to have Mass together. Then afterwards we have a celebration where we dance and eat.

[[Photo 6

Calhoun Square]]

I'm the oldest woman in the state to give birth. I was 53 when he was born. Everybody thinks it's a grandchild. So I'll be in my 70s when I'm going to high-school graduation.

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