“It’s the People” Public Art Project 2019
Inspired by the people whose experiences and stories create the unique vibrancy of Hennepin Avenue, this major public art project captured the heart and soul of Minneapolis’ most famous street. It featured nine large-scale portraits displayed on five buildings between 5th and 10th Streets in downtown Minneapolis. The portraits were created by renowned Minnesota artists and featured the avenue’s regulars, from business owners to transit workers to theatregoers.
“We are excited about what this project brings to the Hennepin Theatre District, which is one of Minneapolis’ most historic and vibrant neighborhoods,” says Mark Nerenhausen, president and CEO of Hennepin Theatre Trust. “Public art projects like this help transform the places and spaces outside our historic theatres by creating an outdoor gallery for everyone to enjoy. Our goal is to provide downtown visitors with a wide variety of art and cultural projects and events so that they return time and time again.”
“It’s the People” joined existing murals and public art projects that make the Hennepin Theatre District a vibrant and welcoming place. The new artwork centered on five themes: workforce, transportation, LGBT+, theatre and youth.
This first installment of an ongoing project is just one way Hennepin Theatre Trust plans to add vitality to the Hennepin Theatre District during the Hennepin Avenue construction project happening during the next four years.
“We’ve made a promise to our stakeholders, partners and the businesses along Hennepin Avenue that we would lead visible, vibrant public art activities and other activations that are going to help us to get through the disruption of Hennepin reconstruction,” says Joan Vorderbruggen, Hennepin Theatre Trust’s director of placemaking and public art. “I want everyone to come down to Hennepin Avenue, and I want everybody to celebrate and enjoy this work.”
Participating artists in 2019’s installment included:
“At the end of the day, I want people to go, ‘Wow, this feels good. That’s the culture we want Hennepin to have, to feel that this is home, and this is safe and this is good.” – Jake Armour
“The Twin Cities is a place of mostly cars and buses and light rail as opposed to walking, and Hennepin Avenue gives you that opportunity to interact, to see who’s out there, to have that human interaction. Getting to a bus, you have to have contact with people. Getting into Hennepin Avenue, you have to have contact with people.” – Xavier Tavera
“I wanted to capture a portrait of folks from my community that doesn’t make them feel static or a stereotype, that queer and trans and gay and lesbian folks all look different, and we come from different generations, and we all build community differently.” – Nancy Musinguzi
“You see the lights, the action, the live entertainment, the restaurants, it’s all the ambience that creates this fabulous feeling. I know 20 years from now, they’re going to remember the theater, the feeling, the people, all of that together.” – Gloria Freeman
“I think if we, as a society, redefine what a stranger is, we would have more of a society. We live in a time when we are very polarized. One of the most human things you can do is to find something in common with someone you don’t know.” – Wing Young Huie
Thanks to our supporters, we are able to instill confidence and community connection in more than 6,000 students statewide through our arts education programs, elevate and financially support the creative works of local artists and provide meaningful arts and cultural experiences to the more than 600,000 people we bring to the Hennepin Theatre District annually. When you make a gift to Hennepin Theatre Trust, you are enabling cultural and economic vitality to flourish statewide. Please support the arts by giving a donation.