After its last hurrah two weeks ago at the Saint Paul Art Crawl, the JAX art building, which has housed artists studios since 1977, will be mourned by the Lowertown community of artists on Friday with a full-on wake.
The idea is Rachel Wacker's. In January, when residents were given notice that they needed to be cleared out by May, “I just realized there was this sense of mourning,” she says. “JAX artists have been very active in the community.”
The last artist occupants were out on April 30, as the building was sold for redevelopment. Friday’s wake is a chance for neighbors and the people who created art and dance at JAX to grieve its passing with a procession filled with masks, props, and performances.
It’s a metaphoric and literal goodbye to a building, but also a way for artists in the area to gather together in a show of solidarity as the threat of gentrification and rising rents loom over the neighborhood.
One of the displaced tenants, Tara Weatherly, from Sendero Flamenco, has planned a short dance for the wake. “It felt like a betrayal,” she says when asked how she reacted when she found out that the building had been sold.
The historic warehouse once housed Michaud Wholesale Grocers and the Jane Garrott Candy Company. Some of its most recent tenants include Ballet Minnesota, Books for Africa, Sendero Flamenco, Songs of Hope, Practical Goods, the Lowertown Bike Shop, and the Show Gallery.
The JAX Memorial Wake coincides with Lowertown’s First Friday event, and will involve a theatrical funeral procession and ceremony. In true wake fashion, after the performance people will gather at Golden’s Deli in the Northwestern Building to share stories.
Wacker, along with her partner, Alex Kuno, are located in the 262 Building, which was also sold along with the JAX. It's staying an artist building for now.
IF YOU GO:
7-11 p.m. Friday
Meet at the Union Depot