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Northern Spark 2019 Artists Announced

Radical Playground concept sketch courtesy the artists.

Meet me at the Radical Playground

Visitors to The Commons this summer are invited to heal through play at the Radical Playground, the winner of the 2019 Creative City Challenge. This multi-part installation by lead artists Candida Gonzalez and Mary Anne Quiroz is centered around whimsical interactive “alebrijes”: animal sculptures inspired by dream creatures from the Caribbean, Mexico, the Pacific Islands and the indigenous cultures of Minnesota.

The artists intend Radical Playground to invite indigenous communities and communities of color to a space where they feel free to gather, to play, to heal. “In this time of fight–protest, politics, policy change: deeply important and often draining–it is essential to us that we create an experience that claims space and time for the BIPOC communities in the Twin Cities.”

Radical Playground will debut on June 14, the first night of Northern Spark, and will remain on view on The Commons through August 2019 for a summer of everyday interaction and special programming.

Jesse Buckner, Heart and Soul Academy, at Northern Spark 2017 in Rondo. Photo by Caleb Timmerm

Announcing Northern Spark 2019 Artists

Northern is proud to announce the roster of installation artists for the ninth annual Northern Spark festival. Roughly 30 artist projects will illuminate public spaces and explore the theme We Are Here: Resilience, Renewal, and Regeneration through a myriad of vibrant and thought-provoking projects located in three neighborhoods — the American Indian Cultural Corridor in Minneapolis, The Commons in downtown Minneapolis, and the Rondo neighborhood in St. Paul.

In The Commons, grab a digital spray can and tag the Digital Graffiti Wall (presented by Walker Art Center), see the transformation and evolution of ancient Ethiopian string musical instruments (Yilma H Woldemedhen), and use your body in joyful protest by dancing in the streets (Don’t You Feel It Too?). Walking down Franklin Ave you’ll see a multimedia installation of animated Anishinaabe stories (Jonathan Thunder), power a moving cyclist sculpture by pedaling stationary bikes (Victor Yepez), and explore a re-imagined Franklin Library designed by and for the local Indigenous community (Marlena Myles with Hennepin County Library). In Rondo, experience a Visual Jazz Odyssey (Miko Simmons) and make solar peace poles that light up the community with regenerative solar energy (Illuminate and Regenerate Rondo Regiment).

View the full list of artists here. Full project descriptions and performing and video artists will be announced in April.

This year’s Northern Spark features two nights of art and connection with community—Friday, June 14 and Saturday, June 15 — starting at dusk (9:00 pm) and ending at 2 am.

Creative City Challenge Launch and Opening Ceremony, The Commons, Northern Spark 2017. Photo: Dusty Hoskovec.

Partner Spotlight: The Commons and Green Minneapolis

With the success of our partnership over the past two years, we are excited to continue staging challenging and exploratory, temporary art in downtown Minneapolis at The Commons this summer.

Thanks to the partnership and sponsorship of Green Minneapolis and our joint support and collaboration with the City of Minneapolis Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy program for the Creative City Challenge, Northern Spark returns to this urban park for the third time this summer. Opened in 2016, The Commons provides some much needed green space in the rapidly developing East Town neighborhood.

Northern Spark is far from the only event that takes place in The Commons. Green Minneapolis – the non-profit conservancy that works to keep the park safe, active and beautiful – has hosted over 150 free public events since the park’s opening, from poetry readings and ping pong tournaments to a weekly farmers market and outdoor film screenings. Keep an eye on The Commons website for posting of the full 2019 Summer Season, including programming by Creative City Challenge winner Radical Playground.

We are thoroughly grateful to the staff of Green Minneapolis and The Commons for working with us to ensure that Northern Spark artists achieve their visions.

Michael Murnane, Under Ice, 2012, Northern Spark. Photo: Patrick Kelley

Under Ice at Spring Howl

Dial your mind back to Northern Spark 2012. You’re walking down the middle of SE Main Street, weaving in between cyclists and people playing body pong in the street. You look up to see images of ice fishing lighting up the entire facade of the Pillsbury A-Mill. Wonder ensues!

Witness an indoor reprise of this iconic Northern Spark project at Spring Howl. This one-night-only version comes with a recorded sound score by Evan Murnane on cello. Get your tickets in advance and save!

Spring Howl for Northern Spark

Wednesday, March 20, 5:30 - 8 pm, at The Holden Room, Tickets $25 in advance $30 at the door.

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