Artist Andrew Moore: "You have to stay focused on real issues. You can't run away from the fact that all this stems from racism."

Work by Andrew Moore

Work by Andrew Moore

Andrew Moore believes that art is his calling. "It's a blessing from God," he says. The former Black Panthers member, who has also been a professional boxer, is probably best known for the political art he displayed outside his home on Bloomington Avenue in south Minneapolis. He lost his home of 20 years in August 2013, after the city had it condemned.

Moore's work is now featured in a new pop-up gallery presented by Hennepin Theatre Trust's Made Here project. He'll be speaking about his work tomorrow night at a film series program featuring a screening of Visions of Paradise.  

Moore started making art around 25 years ago, when he was working at the Minneapolis ReUse Center. Unhappy with what he felt were racial injustices within the organization, he began to create collages made from magazines to express his feelings. His problem with the organization was that the people in key management positions were all white. He protested outside of the ReUse Center, and was taken to court, but the judge ultimately sided with Moore, saying he had a right to protest at the Hi-Lake Shopping Center. 

While working at a later place of employment, Loaves and Fishes, Moore expanded beyond collages to create sculptural objects made with found items. At that organization, Moore worked as a staff member and bouncer. There, he would find things to use to create art, often in protest of that organization, again because of the lack of diversity in their employment. 

Over the years, Moore's work has gotten more political, taking on topics such as war, the Bush administration, and the judicial system. Moving beyond walking down the sidewalk with signs, he started to display his work in his yard. 

"I got complaints," Moore says. Neighbors would stop by and let him know that they didn't like certain pieces, particularly when he began creating work that explored violence. "For one of my first pieces, I built a hanging galley with black baby dolls. People got very offended. A couple people stopped by the house and said, 'You need to stop doing that.' I said, 'Don't you think this is actually happening?'"

In addition to showing his work in his yard, Moore exhibited at the now closed Art of This Gallery in 2005 and 2007. His work was also widely seen each year during the annual In the Heart of the Beast MayDay Parade, as Moore's house is located along the parade's route. 

Eventually, pressure from the city threatened the existence of Moore's yard sculpture park. After numerous complaints, his rental license was revoked about five years ago, and in August 2013, his house was condemned due to the number of repairs that were needed. Unable to afford the renovations, he sold the property to We Buy Ugly Houses. 

Joan Vorderbruggen, the cultural district arts coordinator for Hennepin Theatre Trust, along with other concerned artists and neighbors, helped Moore put his work in storage. He slept in his car for a week, and had to find places for his children to stay who had been living with him. 

Unfortunately, Moore says he's had difficulty finding stable housing since his home was condemned. He has been a landlord for 20 years, so he doesn't have rental references. However, he does currently have employment.

Moore says that Vorderbruggen contacted him a few months ago about the opportunity to show his work through the Made Here pop-up exhibit through. "She said people needed to see the work I do, and needed to hear about it," Moore says. With the objects that had been saved from last year, Moore pieced together a new installation about the struggle of racism that Moore experiences himself, and "that other people go through," he says. The work, made out of PCP pipes, patio doors, animal cages, tubing, dolls, and other miscellaneous objects, takes on police shootings, violence, and the "double standards inflicted on people that are poor," Moore says. 

At his talk on Wednesday, he'll talk about how "the system is not designed to encourage or uplift people of color," he says. "You have to stay focused on real issues. You can't run away from the fact that all this stems from racism." 


A conversation with Andrew Moore, followed by a screening of Visions of Paradise

7 p.m. Wednesday, December 17

319 First Ave. N., Minneapolis