Archive for the ‘University Avenue Renassiance’ Category



October 21, 2012

Another growing “conflict” that should be able to become a win-win…the developing issue of preserving old commerce vs funding new commerce in the Central Corridor.

In today’s world, this does not have to be either/or. Again, there is room for a win-win here.

What there should NOT be room for is aaplying 20th century principles of destroying all in its wake – creating picture perfect “movie sets” that do not reflect the soul of the people.

The guiding principle should be to accommodate 21st century principles and projections in multi-cultural city making that reflects the people living in and using the space….NOT white 20th century “values”.

The world has changed; so should our metropolitan areas.



June 23, 2012

One of the things I missed so much when I was temporarily transplanted to Edina-land for five years was my frequent “drop-in” visits to the History Center on a Friday afternoon- by myself so I could go, see, interact, and reflect on the exhibit I was visiting in silence, with no conversation with or worry about whether a companion was reacting positively or negatively to the exhibit.

 Now that I have been back in the city for six months, it was time to re-institute the tradition, and off I went to view 1934: A New Deal for Artists.   

En route to the exhibit, I passed by “We The People” a visiting exhibit that closes July 4, so took a short  detour for  a quick peak….yes,  both the U.S. Constitution and the draft of Bill of Rights looked exactly like the pictures and I was about to leave without actually reading them when I overheard  a young boy in a school group explaining  in awe to his friend “these are the directions for making the United State”.    I needed to hear that I guess, to appreciate what I was seeing…so few sheets of paper for such a big country!

And then there they were – 56 paintings created under federal New Deal programs that employed artists during the Great Depression.  Some were fun; some were somber; and so many depicted an every- day scene…in the city; in the country; through-out the US – but many were noteworthy for the absence of any animals or people in them. Topics/Subjects included Immigration, Native Traditions, CCC projects, bleak Japanese American scenes from Seattle, street festivals that became vital social events to survive the stresses of the depression, Central Park depicting mothers with children at one end but avoiding “Hooverville” of the homeless at the other.  And as the description said, one was aware of an under-lying question “What do you do for a living” that remained an unanswered question.

And yet, amongst some of the bleakness were hope-filled images of the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Empire State Building, and the Cathedral of Learning- all demonstrating the Depresssion “could not stop Americans from accomplishing great things.”

I think amidst all the RESET ideas floating around in my head, there is a 21st century lesson in this exhibit…but I will have to wait for it to gel, I guess.

Driving home with a detour through University Grove, reinforced I was was right to re-instate this old Friday afternoon habit.  And I surely will be back several times over the summer to  visit the exhibit  THE US -DAKOTA WAR OF 1862 and I might just take in the SENIORS IN MIND: WOODY REFLECTED  100th birthday musical tribute to Woody – inspired by the paintings of 1934: A New Deal for Artists and presented by Pop Wagner, Tony Glover and Charlie Maguire.

And maybe I will break my rule and see if a friend or two would liketo join me on the trolley for the Food Crawl, Home Tour or one of the Pub Crawls- they look well worth it as well! 




May 7, 2010

Yesterday I read that this is the 10th anniversary of the opening of the OPEN BOOK on Washington Avenue in Minneapolis. As it invaded the area known for acres of tailgating parking lots and the old Liquor Depot, many of us in the Minneapolis Riverfront District applauded and supported their efforts – while the general public could not understand why in the world they picked that location. And what we had hoped for happened-it became a success story as the West Bank of our riverfront reinvented itself to what it has become today. Not only has Open Book which houses The Loft, Milkweed Editions and the Minnesota Center for Book Arts flourished despite the many doubters, we now have a whole new bustling neighborhood with Mill City Museum, Mill Ruins Park, The Guthrie Theatre, the MacPhail Center for Music, a myriad of new condominiums, restaurants, merchants, and the wonderful Mill City Farmers Market. The Historic Mill District has, as the Star Tribune indicated yesterday, become a destination.

As I ruminated about how fast this seemed to happen, and the small roles I played in the opening of Mill Ruins Park and the Guthrie Theatre plus oh so many meetings and groundbreakings as work progressed on various new project elements in the neighborhood, I thought back to a morning meeting this week with the owner of Dancers Studio and one of the construction partners, Beret Evenstad, the interior designer of the space itself. As I have focused on the site details, recommended vendors, and getting the word out to the event world, Beret, amidst the myriad of décor details, was able to step back, view the big picture and connected some very important dots in this project.

The new venue for Dancers Studio, opening June 1, sits on the corner of I-94 and Pascal, right at the Midway Shopping Center. As I have thought of the location in terms of easy access, the change in address so it can be more easily found, and curb appeal for the entrance, Beret connected the farsightedness of the McHenrys to lead the way, along with a new Super Target and the Central Corridor Light Rail project to what will become the Renaissance of University Avenue. She immediately zeroed in on the Public Art St. Paul $250,000 Wing Young Huie photo exhibit of a thriving ethically diverse fusion of people and neighborhoods that represents University Avenue today-before the renovation. Elements of this unique public exhibit launched May 1 which can be seen from 280 to the capital, clearly capture the area as a work in progress. Along with investments for the Central Corridor, the renovation will move forward–like the Historic Mill District, and the rebirth of a thriving Lake Street have done over the last decade-because of the foresight and vision of community leaders like the McHenrys who not only see the possibilities, but are willing to invest to get it done and make a difference in this area.

Beret recognized the exhibit as an interesting element for a mid-summer comunity open house at Dancers Studio and is now proceeding getting this broader story of Dancers Studio and the McHenrys told.

Another lesson learned. We as an industry need to be sure we broaden our view and look at each event we do in the context of the world in which it will happen. This project for me, just stepped up a notch, from an exciting launch of a new venue that helps fill a needed size niche in the event world, to a seed that will grow into something much bigger and long needed in our broader metro area. I am proud to be a small cog in this wheel –helping them where I can to make this happen!