People of Hennepin Avenue take center stage

The “Blue Lady” and Jason Vandenboom in front of a “It’s The People” photo

The people of Hennepin Avenue took center stage as Hennepin Theatre Trust launched its newest public art project, “It’s the People.”

The project is inspired by the people whose experiences and stories create the unique vibrancy of Hennepin Avenue. It features large-scale portraits created by renowned Minnesota artists and students from the FAIR School.

Minnesota Senator Bobby Joe Champion

Minnesota Sen. Bobby Joe Champion spoke at a launch party for the project, saying that it contributes to the transformation of Hennepin Avenue.

“Through public art, like the project we are here to celebrate today, exceptional entertainment and events, you are ushering us into the next 100 years,” says Champion about the Trust and stakeholders who help make these projects possible. “Here is to the people of Hennepin Avenue and next 100 years of the Hennepin Theatre District!”

The artwork centers on five themes — workforce, transportation, LGBT+, theatre and youth — and features the avenue’s regulars.

Kim Bradley, Clear Channel regional president, noted that the location makes the art project even more impactful.

“The three Hennepin Theatre Trust theatres are less than a block from each other, and they are so integral to the community,” she says. “Supporting the arts, education and cultural diversity is one of our core tenets, and we’re proud to stand in partnership with Hennepin Theatre Trust and UBS to support ‘It’s the People.’”

Stephen Glynn, UBS Managing Director and Market Head of the Minnesota-Northern Plains Market, shared that UBS is honored to be a presenting sponsor of “It’s the People.” UBS has one of the largest corporate art collections in the world and has been a lead partner of Art Basel for more than 25 years.

“We believe ‘It’s the People’ will further solidify the Hennepin Theatre Trust as the gateway to downtown Minneapolis,” says Glynn. “We are really excited about our partnership with both the Hennepin Theatre Trust and our fellow corporate partner Clear Channel Outdoor.”

Photographer Jake Armour created the piece on workforce, and loved seeing it alongside work from other notable artists.

“It brought together the bigger concepts of the whole campaign and solidified the intention of the project,” says Armour.

His photo can be seen on the City Center building on 6th Street and Hennepin Avenue. It features Minneapolis police officer Krystal Scott and Downtown Improvement District (DID) team members Jason Vandenboom and Joseph Desenclos, who frequently work together in their roles protecting and serving the people of Minneapolis.

z’Amya performing at launch event

Compassion and connection are strong sthemes of the project, and were celebrated through music by zAmya Theater troupe members, who performed the songs “Streetify” and “Three Hots and a Cot” at the launch party. zAmya director Maren Ward says the troupe is happy to celebrate the “It’s the People” project.

“It shows the theme of making Hennepin Avenue inclusive and including all the voices and faces,” says Ward. “We share that mission of uplifting and connecting. It accomplishes its mission of equalizing.”

Sen. Champion echoed that thought, saying the project “puts humans at the center of the narrative. We come from different places, but we are united.”

“It’s the People” joins Hennepin Theatre Trust’s existing murals and public art projects to help transform the places and spaces that make the Hennepin Theatre District a vibrant, welcoming and safe place. It is just part of the Trust’s plans to add vitality to the Hennepin Theatre District during the Hennepin Avenue improvement project happening during the next four years.

Special thanks to sponsors UBS Wealth Management and Clear Channel Outdoor, whose support makes this work possible.

You can see “It’s the People” on buildings from 5th to 10th streets along Hennepin Avenue, as well as at the gallery at the Hennepin Theatre Trust Event Center at 900 Hennepin Avenue.

Find locations and read about the people featured in the project.