The juxtaposing purple, green, and yellow on the exterior of the building immediately catch the eye as you look across the lot. Upon closer examination, the mural features images unique to the North Minneapolis community, such as a portrait of Prince, bike racks used for break-dancing, and a spoon holding the Heart of North Minneapolis, a unique twist on the iconic “Spoonbridge and Cherry” sculpture.
Situated in the true heart of North Minneapolis, the lot on the corner of West Broadway and Emerson was once in limbo. Juxtaposition Arts (JXTA), a youth art education program focused on design enterprise and local cultural development, needed to tear down an old, unstable building on the lot and make space for their new, art instruction labs. When the fundraising process for the new building was estimated to take three to four years, JXTA decided to prevent their newly empty lot from becoming obsolete. Their solution was to create a space for youth to celebrate art and culture. But it came with a little twist, a skate-able twist.
On June 15, JXTA’s main building will be joined by a new, skate-able art plaza for youth to celebrate art and culture. This versatile and wheels-friendly plaza features skateboard jumps, accompanied by an 840-foot mural by Bronx-based graffiti artists Tats Cru.
Juxtaposition recognized a need in North Minneapolis for a space focused on the community, specifically the youth. A skate-able plaza helps “activate the space,” as Roger Cummings, the chief cultural producer and co-founder of JXTA, says. It also provides a place for youth to gather and do what they enjoy—skateboarding.
“When you go to a plaza, it often has those pieces of metal so people can’t skate on the furniture,” Cummings says. “We wanted to flip that … and make those pieces of furniture skate-able.”
In conjunction with JXTA’s mantra, this space will allow youth, artists, and community members to unify through their own creativity, innovation, health, and culture. Even though this plaza is temporary, Cummings hopes that the project will grow the demand for more temporary, community focused plazas and eventually, more permanent skate-able parks.
As for the colorful mural, it was created during Tats Cru’s residency at Juxtaposition from April 26 to May 4. Designed based on input from the community, the mural nods to the unique and vivacious character of North Minneapolis. “We were looking at the creative economy that is North Minneapolis,” says Cummings.
The grand opening celebration of the skate-able plaza will be on Saturday, June 15, from 10 a.m. to noon with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 10:45 a.m. The Juxtaposition Contemporary Lab, located adjacent to the plaza, has open hours from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on June 15. Visitors are encouraged to stop by the current exhibit Live from New York by Tats Cru, meet youth artists, and peruse artwork for sale.
More About Juxtaposition
In addition to the skate-able art plaza, Juxtaposition offers free, year-round art programs for youth, hosts community events, and creates jobs for teens. Its programs include training, research and development, and five micro-enterprises. Among these micro-enterprises are a graphic and design firm, a textile and screen-printing business, an environmental design firm, and a contemporary and public art program. For more information about classes or to get involved, visit JXTA’s website.