If you've spent time in downtown Minneapolis over the past few months, you may have noticed previously vacant storefronts with photos, paintings, puppets, or projections. These works of art are part of the Made Here initiative, which is headed up by Hennepin Theatre Trust, the Walker Art Center, the city of Minneapolis, and ArtPlace in partnership with the Downtown Cultural District, a City Council-sponsored initiative.
The initiative was formed "to make a more artful and pleasant pedestrian experience from the Walker to the river along First Avenue, Hennepin, and Nicollet Avenue," says Joan Vorderbruggen the Cultural District arts coordinator at Hennepin Theatre Trust.
We joined Vorderbruggen on a walking tour during the last weeks of Made Here's summer exhibit to find out more about the pocket galleries and installations we've been seeing all over the downtown area.
Made Here was created as a result of the 18-month study Plan-It Hennepin in which community members and artists were asked about their pedestrian experiences in the downtown area. "What we found from that study was that it was a very uneven experience," says Vorderbruggen. "One of the main reasons we could see that that was happening were that there were a lot of vacant commercial storefronts." That's where the art came in.
During Made Here's pilot program in September 2013, there were 27 visual displays of Minnesota-based creativity throughout the mostly vacant Block E.
While the summer run of Made Here exhibits comes to a close after the first week of October, that doesn't mean the local art displays are going to hibernate through the colder months.
"We just wrapped up our open call for 'brilliance,' which is our fall and winter run of Made Here," explains Vorderbruggen. "We're asking artists to utilize light in any creative way that they could consider, whether it be using reflective materials, or just interpreting that in the medium they use. We're going to be lighting up downtown for the winter months with some really beautiful exhibits."
Don't have time to go on an official walking tour? You can visit the exhibits on your own on a self-guided tour with help from the Made Here website.
Find out more about Made Here's summer exhibits and artists on our walking tour with Vorderbruggen:
Video production by Todd Wardrope for City Pages.
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