Announcing the winning ideas in the Knight Arts Challenge St. Paul – Knight Foundation

Announcing the winning ideas in the Knight Arts Challenge St. Paul

On my first visit to St. Paul, as I walked past riverboats on the Mississippi and the beautifully domed state capitol, I found a city filled with testaments to its past. In no place did I find that better exemplified than in the stone and wood of the James J Hill Library. Its 20th century stoicism, expressed in oil paintings and century old hardwood reading tables, represents the city’s rich history as the last city of the east.

It is not by accident that the library will host this year’s Knight Arts Challenge awards ceremony. The building is a perfect counterpoint to this year’s challenge’s winning ideas. We are proud to present these 27 ideas, of St. Paul for St. Paul. Just like the library describes the age in which it was created, these ideas are emblematic of the people and forces shaping St. Paul today.

Photo courtesy of Cedarside.

These ideas engage audiences in new ways, exposing St. Paulites to art in places they may not expect, from diverse voices they may not be familiar with, in ways that surprise and delight.

There are performances that mix boxing with dance, that present site-specific theatre at a baseball stadium, that reimagine the drudgery of clearing snow into a snow-blower ballet. Ideas that celebrate the communities that make up the modern St. Paul voices from East Africa, Latin America, East and South Asia, and the Middle East. Ideas that bring forth art in places that you normally wouldn’t expect, from garages in Frogtown to mobile art carts in Lowertown.

Photo courtesy of India Association of Minnesota.

If the JJ Hill Library represents where St. Paul has been, these winning ideas represent where it is going. I am honored to be a part of it.

These winning ideas mark the third year of the three-year challenge. We have been awed by all the ideas submitted, and will announce our plans for the arts program in early 2017. One thing won’t change though: we will continue to fund and be committed to helping the St. Paul arts scene develop even further.

Here are the winning ideas that inspired us this year: 

Project: Afoutayi eighth annual Haitian Dance, Music and Arts Festival
Applicant: Afoutayi Dance, Music and Arts Company
To celebrate and build understanding of Haitian culture through dance and drumming workshops, performances and community gatherings

Project: Light Up the Night Market!
Applicant: Asian Economic Development Association
To feature Asian-American artists at the Little Mekong Night Market with a gallery of original poster art reflecting Asian-American community life

Project: Wilder Gateway
Applicant: Brad Kaspari
To build a sculptural gateway for Wilder Playground that welcomes visitors and serves as a public art learning site for nearby City Academy High School

Project: Blessing the Boats
Applicant: Cedarside
To highlight the work of immigrant artists with Blessing the Boats, a cross-cultural celebration of East Africans and others new to the United States that will offer participatory theater, photography, film and other genres

Project: CLUES Fiesta Latina
Applicant: Comunidades Latinas Unidas en Servicio (CLUES)
To celebrate the diverse art and culture of Latinos in Minnesota through a festival of music, dance, murals, photography and folkloric traditions during Latino Heritage Month

Project: Frogtown Garage Concert Series
Applicant: Frogtown Neighborhood Association
To shine a spotlight on Frogtown’s diverse music scene and build community through a series of garage concerts that connect neighbors, artists and music lovers

Photo courtesy of Independent Filmmaker Project Minnesota.

Project: Empowering Asian Women Through Comedy
Applicant: Funny Asian Women…K (FAWK)
To host monthly comedy cabarets to talk about difficult issues Asian-American women encounter every day in Minnesota

Project: Stories That Unite
Applicant: Independent Filmmaker Project Minnesota
To illuminate the stories of East Africans by uniting youth from Skyline Tower and Gordon Parks High School to create short documentary films

Project: IndiaFest 2017
Applicant: India Association of Minnesota
To showcase the experience of India through a one-day festival of music, movement and mudras, ranging from classical traditions to today’s boot-stomping Bollywood

Project: Emerging Curators Fellowship
Applicant: Jehra Patrick
To establish and build the individual practices of emerging curators from diverse backgrounds through a yearlong research, professional development and presentation fellowship

Photo courtesy of Richard Chin of St. Paul Snowblower Ballet.

Project: Hmong Murals on Fourth Street
Applicant: Minnesota Museum of American Art
To showcase how Hmong textile traditions have found resonance in contemporary forms and urban spaces through murals created by Australian artist Vanghoua Anthony Vue

Project: Safe at Home
Applicant: Mixed Blood Theatre
To celebrate the coexistence of arts, sports, politics and commerce through a site-specific theatrical extravaganza produced at the St. Paul Saints’ CHS Field

Project: Arab Film Fest: The St. Paul Edition
Applicant: Mizna
To counter anti-Arab and anti-Muslim perceptions through independent Arab cinema, brought to five St. Paul college campuses and their surrounding neighborhoods

Project: Space 369 (II)
Applicant: Nathanael Flink
To highlight local and regional artists at Space 369, an alternative, artist-run gallery in the Creative Enterprise Zone

Project: Hamline-Midway Historical Retrospective Murals
Applicant: Nick Mamayek and Wes Winship
To bring beauty and pride to the Hamline-Midway neighborhood through a historical retrospective of outdoor murals on a blighted building undergoing renovation

Project: St. Paul Snowblower Ballet
Applicant: Richard Chin
To transform the dreary toil of snow removal into joyful art with a ballet in which performers, equipped with snowblowers and shovels, stage a dance spectacle set to live music

Photo courtesy of VocalEssence.

Project: The Art of Boxing, the Sport of Ballet
Applicant: St. Paul Ballet
To bring together the worlds of boxing and ballet with a performance that features professionals from both disciplines in two acts, under one roof, with a live feed outdoors for the entire community.

Project: C/Art: Lowertown
Applicant: Springboard for the Arts
To bring more art to the growing street-level crowds in Lowertown through mobile art platforms that artists can borrow and operate as pop-up galleries and performance spaces.

Project: The Sex Show
Applicant: Sun Mee Chomet
To explore sexuality and stereotypes in the Asian-American community with a new play

Project: Taiko Tuesdays
Applicant: TaikoArts Midwest
To expand the impact and accessibility of taiko, the ensemble drumming rooted in Japanese traditions, with a monthly series of free pop-up concerts throughout St. Paul

TaikoArts Midwest. Photo courtesy of Rich Ryan.

Project: Musique et Masqueray
Applicant: The Rose Ensemble
To commemorate St. Paul’s connection with the French architect Emmanuel Masqueray through world-class concerts presented in two of the churches he designed, which will be accompanied by visual exhibits

Project: Celebrating Central High’s 150th Anniversary Through Photography
Applicant: Transforming Central
To celebrate the 150th anniversary of Minnesota’s oldest high school by having artist Chris Faust take photographs of Central High School’s community, which will be displayed alongside similar historic images for an outdoor art exhibit

Project: St. Paul Youth Poet Laureate
Applicant: TruArtSpeaks
To amplify the voices of young writers through a youth poet laureate program that publishes their work, invites them to participate in civic activities throughout the year and provides a platform for modeling leadership through critical thought, voice and performance

Photo courtesy of Twin Cities PBS.

Project: Our Space Is Spoken For
Applicant: Twin Cities Media Alliance
To explore how marginalized communities redefine and negotiate space with a storytelling project where spoken word poets, and performance and visual artists adapt residents’ essays and perform them in the spaces on which the stories are based

Project: ART Is
Applicant: Twin Cities PBS
To showcase the work of emerging artists by engaging exceptional St. Paul artists of color to curate work in the TPT Street Space

Photo courtesy of TruArtSpeaks.

Project: WITNESS 2017 – Underground Railroad
Applicant: VocalEssence
To illuminate St. Paul’s historic role as a sanctuary for the oppressed by raising up immigrant voices, past and present, through workshops and concerts

Project: Crocus Hill: A Ghost Story
Applicant: Zeitgeist
To engage audiences in the tale of a St. Paul Victorian mansion possessed by malevolent spirits through the talents of Zeitgeist composer/flutist Julie Johnson and writer Cheri Johnson