Cynthia Frost for TC Daily Planet
August 24, 2011
A community gathering will take place at the Seward Market August 28, this time celebrating community rather than marking tragedy. A year and a half ago, on a cold January night, Seward neighbors gathered together outside this market to show solidarity with and compassion for the families of three Somali Americans who were tragically gunned down by teens in what was reported as a robbery gone bad. In the following weeks posters proclaiming "Seward Stands Together" sprouted up in neighborhood businesses to show continuing support and to take a stand against violence. [Video, slideshow below.]
The Unveiling Event takes place this Sunday, August 28, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. at Seward Market, 2431 E. Franklin Ave in Minneapolis. “We wanted to create that ambience on a more permanent basis,” said Elizabeth Greenbaum, Executive Director of ArtiCulture, an organization based in Seward that does art education and community art projects. They brought together a team of young people from the neighborhood to create the mural.
Local photographers Jennifer Larson and Mohamud Mumin led the team of young photographers who would create images of their community to mount along the east wall of the Market. The project was particularly meaningful to Mumin, as he saw that the local teens involved in creating art were the flip side of the teens whose lives had gone terribly wrong. “The kids that were responsible [for the crime] were the same age as the kids I was instructing” for this art project, said Mumin. “Sometimes it's just a fine line that determines what road their life takes them.”
Mumin said the project was also meaningful to him because he had a chance to interact with the families of the slain, including Seward Market owner Faysal Warfa. “That put a face to the tragedy, and brought it to another dimension.” As the group met with Warfa and other relatives to flesh out the concept and the design, Mumin acted as a go-between and facilitated understanding across cultures and generations. “The families did not want it to become a shrine, Mumin said, and there were religious and cultural concerns about displaying photographs of the faces of people. At the same time, “it was all about community.”
“The group of kids were very happy to respect the wishes of the families, and were really very respectful,” said Mumin. At the same time, they struggled with the assignment.
“How can we express community,” asked photographer Issac Mutcherson, "without showing the faces of people?" In workshops they discussed elements that make up community and went out to photograph those elements.
Mutcherson continued to struggle. He said the other photographers were bringing back great pictures, but he wasn’t getting it. “I just took a walk through the community, and didn’t think about it so much,” he said. And then it happened. He started seeing community. “Wow, I haven’t captured any of this,” he said. “I wasn’t seeing.”
One look at the mural shows just how much Mutcherson and the other photographers did see, and how community can be expressed in many ways. The mural consists of five panels of photographic collages mounted on the east wall of the building. Volunteers painted a backdrop for the panels on three community painting days this summer.
Once the photographs were selected, volunteer TJ Besaw assembled digital collages for 5 panels, each measuring four by eight feet. The collages were printed on aluminum plastic composite panels by Big Print.
Many businesses supported the effort. Cameras were donated by West Photo and Lake St. Target, and equipment was loaned by Talmud Torah School of St Paul and Network Medics, Inc. Welna II Hardware offered hardware, Valspar donated paint, and ArcStone assembled a video. Others pitched in to feed the volunteer photographers and artists, including Milio’s, Tracy’s, Seward Cafe, Seward Pizza Luce, Shabelle’s Grocery & Restaurant, Bethany Lutheran Church and Sister's Camelot.
The project was funded by grants from COMPAS and the City of Minneapolis Great Streets Program. Seward Market also contributed funding.
The photographers and artists will be on hand to sign the mural. The photographers/painting artists are Grace Scribner-O'Pray, Dylan Portoghese, Mary Metehnek, Cayla Roberts, Isaac Mutcherson, Adam Ahmed, Omar Ahmed, and Emma Gardner; and painting artist Delia Ihinger. The project was coordinated by Deb Ervin of ArtiCulture.
For a sneak peek, view the teaser video made by Nick Longtin and Dan Sundquist of ArcStone, below: Video
Hayley Nelson for The Bridge
September 1, 2008
Just a week after its move to Franklin Avenue, ArtiCulture’s new location is a work in progress. Entering the space is reminiscent of walking in on a theater rehearsal. The floor is black like a stage; props and art supplies are in every line of vision. In the corner, two little girls about 5 years old take a break from their art class to practice ballet twirls, while Copa, the nonprofit’s border collie mascot, plays the role of hostess.
In truth, the classroom looks just like an art class for children should: with plenty of paint splatters, safety scissors, paints, markers, crayons, supplies and just-finished artwork — even a stuffed pheasant. At the time of The Bridge’s interview with Executive Director of ArtiCulture, Elizabeth Greenbaum, the kids were embarking on a supervised expedition to a nearby park.
It might make sense that the organization gives off a playful vibe, for although ArtiCulture’s focus is on the visual arts, its mission of educating, enriching and nurturing anyone from ages 1 to 101 comes in many forms, according to Greenbaum. Now that they have a bigger space that is more accessible to patrons in the Seward neighborhood, the organization intends to expand those horizons even further.
Greenbaum noted that plans were in the works for years to move from its old Longfellow location, but it was only when Seward Redesign found what seemed to be an ideal location — the newly remodeled "Frankly 27th" building between 26th and 27th avenues on East Franklin Avenue — that ArtiCulture found its new home. "[Seward Redesign] literally came over and said, ‘we have the space for you,’" Greenbaum said. "And they were right."
Double the size of the old location, Greenbaum has high hopes for the new site, citing a new retail store and increased studio space as just two ways ArtiCulture and the public can expect to benefit from the move.
The increased space could also improve ArtiCulture’s many outreach programs, including an African weaving program for Somali women, funded through a grant from the Seward Neighborhood Group, and an alliance with Partnership Resources Inc. which has designed an art program for developmentally disabled adults.
"We’ll be able to hold exhibits of work from these programs right here in our building," said Greenbaum, "which will allow us to play a larger role in [the programs]."
General classes will be expanded to include a combined painting and life-drawing class for adults, complete with live models. On the agenda for fall is "ArtSlam," a teen program combining poetry and the visual arts, as well as what is known as “Fun Art Fridays,” an after school program for kids that may serve as an alternative to daycare.
The children’s class in session during The Bridge interview was "Patterns in Nature," in which young kids discover ways artists are inspired by nature and the outdoors. That would explain not only the trip to the park but perhaps the stuffed pheasant prop.
Indeed, while play is important to ArtiCulture’s philosophy, the organization considers its role as primarily educational, said Greenbaum. The group’s mission is to spread art as a means of enhancing skills in multiple areas of life. "In terms of a curriculum," she said, "we provide students with a theme and the tools they need. Then, within that realm, we hope to promote an open-ended approach to creative thinking." This method largely entails outlining the relationships between visual art, math and science, Greenbaum explained, as well as poetry and literary arts.
While the move is still fresh and there is much yet to do, Greenbaum seems more than satisfied at the moment with the new location and its benefits. For now, the organization is focused on getting settled in time for a grand opening celebration on Sept. 27 — part of a larger "Frankly 27th" open house — which will include a fundraiser and the organization’s first annual "clothesline sale," featuring affordable works by local artists. As for the future of ArtiCulture, Greenbaum puts it best when she describes the educational philosophy of the group:
"It’s not about the final picture, but the process."