Lake Street Offers Art for All in This New Project

Artists Ryan Stopera & Ramses Alarcon Sanchez with their work outside the Jungle Theatre.

There’s no such thing as too much art in a community. The Lake Street Arts Council is now incorporating permanent and nonpermanent art onto Lake Street in a project titled Make on Lake. Communications and program coordinator Theresa Swaney says the Make on Lake project “is inspired and informed by a number of other Twin Cities public art projects.”

One of the biggest motivations for the project according to Swaney is to “utilize the creativity of local artists to build community and beautify our neighborhoods. We believe art is a force for good and can be used to build community among residents, business owners and visitors.”

To get the project up and running, the Lake Street Council, the Neighborhood Development Center and the Corcoran Neighborhood Organization submitted a joint grant for the project. Funding came through the McKnight Foundation, Twin Cities Local Initiatives Support Corporation  and the City of Minneapolis, making this large community dream a reality.

“[The Lake Street Council] always advocate[s] for the use of public art in infrastructure projects that occur in the corridor,” Swaney says. Lake Street’s installations will all be easily accessible to the public, with GoodSpace Murals, a “South Minneapolis team of artists,”  helping bring it all together.

Community and accessibility are themes that keep occurring in the Make on Lake project. “Public art, both installations and events, are an essential part of society,” Swaney says. “They humanize our built environment and give us space to celebrate our history, culture and moment in time.” There is even a large amount of collaboration between local artists and businesses, including artist Rock 9’s collaboration with businesses such as New Horizon Academy, Uppercuts Round 2 Barbershop and A & D Food Market LLC. The St. Paul group will work with the businesses to create lightbox installments of the business’s choice.

Swaney has high hopes for the project, especially in the way it’s executed. “Lake Street has always been a high traffic area,” says Swaney. “Make on Lake asks participants to stop and think about the street in a different way.” Although, she hopes audiences gain more than just that. “We hope [the project] brings you into new businesses, forces you to experience new places, allows you to interact with a diversity of people and explore your surroundings in a new way,” she says.
“In our highly digitalized and fast-paced world, projects like Make on Lake are important reminders that we must appreciate and care for the physical world around us,” Swaney says. Some of the pieces are installations, while others inspire community participation such as Jessica Bergman Tank’s Find Me, Hide Me project.

Tank’s project involved small medallions hidden along Lake Street between Hiawatha Avenue to Grand Avenue and inside local businesses. “When an individual finds one of the medallions," Swaney says, "they go to a website to indicate they have been found, can read about the image on the medallion and are supposed to hide them again.”