DeAnna and Roger Cummings, directors of Juxtaposition Arts, have been planning to demolish the organization’s building on West Broadway Avenue for over a decade. Things are moving more quickly than planned, however.
The mural-bedecked north Minneapolis property houses JXTA’s apprenticeship programs, where young people are trained in different artistic disciplines and earn wages while doing projects. The building has long been an arts landmark on West Broadway and Emerson, but for the past few years, there’s been an issue with bricks falling off the facade.
JXTA had done patch repairs a few times, but last spring the city began issuing citations. “There’s this new rule,” says DeAnna. “Once we get a safety citation with regard to our property, the fine increases with each additional citation.”
They had to act quickly. Fines started at $500, and they would spiral to upwards of $200,000 if the organization didn’t do something. “Even during the time spent researching what made the most sense, we were on a clock that was ticking,” she says.
When the organization met with contractors and engineers, they discovered that the problem went beyond just the bricks on the outside. “The facade failure was tied into the entire building structure,” says Roger. Fixing the facade would cost $500,000.
“We came to the conclusion that what would make the most sense would be to demolish the building while we put in a plan for the future of the building,” says DeAnna.
JXTA doesn’t have the cash on hand to build a new building right away, so instead they plan to create an art park/plaza. The young people in JXTA’s studios will help design it with pros in collaboration with the West Broadway Coalition and City of Skate, a skateboard park design firm. The new outdoor space will boast artistic benches, gathering areas, food trucks, and places to eat and perform. It will be partially complete in time for the FLOW Northside Arts Crawl in July, with its final completion set for next year.
“We didn’t want the fact that the building was going away to be a negative for the corridor,” says DeAnna. “A vacant lot is not sexy. Why not activate it?” says Roger.
The small adjacent building on Emerson, which holds the organization’s gallery, as well as the two-story building where the VALT program is hosted, will remain. Meanwhile, JXTA is leasing a space kitty corner to the property at Family’s Moving Forward as a temporary measure for at least the next two years.
Unfortunately, the organization will have to put their woodworking and metal fabrication shop on hold. “There are a few things we will have to do without and work around, the wood shop being one of them,” says Roger.
JXTA’s retail shop is going mobile. Currently, they have things for sale in the gallery, with plans to sell merchandise on a pop-up basis at festivals and events throughout the year.
In addition, JXTA continues to do work around the city. The group had a storefront window display as part of Hennepin Theatre Trust’s Made Here Program, and there’s an upcoming commission with the Vikings.