May 21, 2019

Portraits by renowned Minnesota artists featuring people who make the Hennepin Theatre District vibrant and unique will adorn buildings from 5th to 10th Streets

MINNEAPOLIS— Hennepin Theatre Trust today revealed nine works of art that will be featured in a new public art project titled, “It’s the People,” inspired by the people whose experiences and stories create the unique vibrancy of Hennepin Avenue. A sneak peek of the project, which aims to capture the heart and soul of Minneapolis’ most famous street, was unveiled during a VIP luncheon attended by civic leaders, artists, business owners and corporate sponsors.

“It’s the People” features fine art portraits on large-scale banners to be 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.”

The public is invited to enjoy a celebration and formal unveiling next month:

Thursday, June 13, 2019
5 – 7 p.m.
Hennepin Theatre Trust
900 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, 55403

“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.

The banners will hang at these locations:

“We partnered with artists who have expertise in portrait photography to capture and highlight the people who make Hennepin Avenue a really special place,” says Joan Vorderbruggen, Hennepin Theatre Trust’s director of placemaking and public art. “We know that adding a human element to urban environments and giving a face to a place brings communities together and creates a sense of pride. These artists are providing a new way to appreciate the historic and unique Hennepin Theatre District.”

One such artist, Xavier Tavera, is best known for his nuanced portraits of members of the Latinx community. His portrait of transit worker Joe Hester explores the transportation theme.

“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,” says Tavera. “Getting to a bus, you have to have contact with people. Getting into Hennepin Avenue, you have to have contact with people.”

The “theatregoers” theme features multi-generations of one family who attends shows together; “workforce” features a police officer and members of the Downtown Improvement District team; “LGBT+” features bartenders at the Saloon, one of the city’s oldest gay bar; and “youth” includes five banners, each showcasing multiple artworks created by high school students at FAIR School who were coached in the principles of visual storytelling by artist Wing Young Huie. Additionally, student art will be displayed and available for public viewing in the art gallery at 900 Hennepin.

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 Vorderbruggen. “I want everyone to come down to Hennepin Avenue, and I want everybody to celebrate and enjoy this work.”

“It’s the People” is presented by Hennepin Theatre Trust with support from UBS Wealth Management and Clear Channel Outdoor. More information available at HennepinTheatreTrust.org.

HENNEPIN THEATRE TRUST drives cultural and economic vitality in Minnesota through leadership of the dynamic Hennepin Theatre District in downtown Minneapolis and educational programming that reaches every area of the state. Its historic theatres — Orpheum, State and Pantages — and new event center at 900 Hennepin light up Hennepin Avenue with top-tier entertainment, including the best of Broadway and a wide variety of arts programming. Hennepin Theatre Trust is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. Learn more at HennepinTheatreTrust.org.