“It’s the People” Public Art Project

Inspired by the people whose experiences and stories create the unique vibrancy of Hennepin Avenue, this major public art project captures the heart and soul of Minneapolis’ most famous street. It features nine large-scale portraits displayed on five buildings between 5th and 10th Streets in downtown Minneapolis. The portraits are created by renowned Minnesota artists and feature 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” joins existing murals and public art projects that make the Hennepin Theatre District a vibrant and welcoming place. The new artwork centers on five themes: workforce, transportation, LGBT+, theatre and youth.

This 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.”

The banners will hang at these locations:

Workforce by Jake Armour at 33 South 6th St (City Center)

“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

Transportation by Xavier Tavera at 710 Hennepin Ave (Pantages Theatre)

“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

LGBT+ by Nancy Musinguzi at 830 Hennepin Ave (The Saloon)

“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

Theatregoers by Maya Washington at 900 Hennepin Ave (Hennepin Theatre Trust)

“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

Youth by Wing Young Huie and the FAIR School students at 10 S 10th St (FAIR School)

“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