Workforce by Jake Armour
Location: 33 South 6th St (City Center)
Subjects: Joseph Desenclos, Downtown Improvement District, Krystal Scott, Minneapolis Police Officer, Jason Vandenboom, Downtown Improvement District
When you ask the people who work on Hennepin Avenue, they will tell you the street is different every day.
“You get to see different people from different ethnicities coming from different cultural backgrounds,” says Minneapolis police officer Krystal Scott. “It’s a melting pot of all cultures and their attempt to get along and exist within the same area with each other.”
Scott, along with Downtown Improvement District (DID) team members Joseph Desenclos and Jason Vandenboom, are featured on the workforce-themed portrait by renowned photographer Jake Armour, part of Hennepin Theatre Trust’s “It’s the People” public art project.
“I immediately was drawn to the concepts of the people that are making Hennepin Avenue a safe place and cultivative place for the city with all the creativity going on down there, the dance community, the theater,” says Armour.
Armour’s photo is featured on one of nine large-scale banners displayed on buildings between 5th and 10th streets in downtown Minneapolis. The portraits feature the avenue’s regulars, from business owners to transit workers to theatregoers, people Desenclos gets to know through his job with DID. He recalls working with one man who would often sleep on a bench outside. Desenclos was able to work with staff at Minneapolis Police Department and Hennepin Healthcare, as well as nearby business owners, to help track the man’s needs and connect him with resources to provide him more stability and shelter.
“Now I still see him, and he occasionally sits on that bench,” says Desenclos, “but he tells me ‘I’m on my way home.’ And I think that is the beauty of Hennepin Avenue. That’s the compassion and soul of our city.”
Vandenboom says the payoff of his work with DID is immeasurable.
“So many people thank us for what we do, you couldn’t count how many,” he says. “There’s that intangible aspect of just the presence of the ambassadors on the street that’s priceless.”
He proudly talks about bringing his 11-year-old daughter and nine-year-old son downtown, and hopes they have great memories of a childhood on Hennepin Avenue.
“Take in some good shows. Have some good food. Enjoy life.”
Armour echoes the sentiment, saying he hopes “It’s the People” will add to a feeling of welcome.
“At the end of the day, I want people to go, ‘Wow, this feels good,’” says Armour. “That’s the culture we want Hennepin to have, to feel that this is home, and this is safe and this is good.”