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#ArtConnectsUs June 2020

Hennepin Theatre Trust partnered with Clear Channel Outdoor to produce ten works of original artwork by Minnesota-based artists to be featured on digital billboards across the region with messages of hope and gratitude to those who are working on the front lines during the stay-at-home period of the COVID-19 pandemic. Eleven artists from diverse backgrounds were selected from the Trust’s broad network of visual artists who participated in the Made Here storefront initiative, a public art project that spanned five years activating vacant commercial storefronts with artistic displays in the Hennepin Theatre District.

The billboards launched on April 15 and the first round of artworks run through May 31 on boards that span the Twin Cities metro area. Thanks to the generous support from the Minneapolis Foundation’s OneMPLS Pandemic Response Grant, Hennepin Theatre Trust and Clear Channel Outdoor are thrilled to extend the “Art Connects Us” billboard initiative through the summer. Funding will support commissions to 30 Minnesota-based artists from diverse communities who have been impacted by COVID-19. Each month will feature 10 new original designs beginning in June and lasting through August. June’s 10 designs are set to premier on Monday, June 1.

“We are proud to support our local arts community with stipends, a platform for expression and to connect with our community through the messages the artists are sharing,” said Joan Vorderbruggen, director of Hennepin Theatre Trust District Engagement. “We have talented applicants bringing a variety of perspectives and life experiences. Every one of them is eager to create something meaningful for the community in this way.”

The imagery is bright and highly graphic, representing our diversity. It includes the message “All Minnesotans Are Essential.” I hope it will brighten spirits and encourage any who might see it. I’m proud to play a small part in the large challenge we all face.

From Daniel Brevick: I’m an artist, photographer, peacemaker. I apply the arts to affect positive change in myself and hope to motivate others. Art can tell stories, and a well-told story brings awareness. Sometimes change. Commercial art is about communication. Fine art moves free from practical considerations, allowing personal exploration and expression. Combining them creates a unique voice. To learn more about Daniel Brevick, visit www.Black.Studio.

The work shows how the momentary experience of stillness opens us to feel connected to all ages of the world.

Daniel Reiva has a MA in Theatre and Learning Technology. As an artist, he devises theater workshops and creates digital art. Currently, he has two digital media works on display in the North Hennepin Community College virtual art exhibit. To learn more about Daniel P. Reiva, visit his website: vimeo.com/showcase/6827716.

An image about growth and renewal in springtime in Minnesota after a long winter. This collage is made with cut paper and fragments of my photographs of the urban prairie in my neighborhood. This site-specific digital collage features plants that adapt and thrive in the sometimes challenging urban landscape of the Twin Cities.

Regan Golden depicts ecological change in the American landscape using drawing materials and altered photographs. Golden’s images and cut-paper installations have been exhibited in solo and group shows both nationally and internationally. Golden is also a writer who focuses on how landscapes are seen and experienced, including the recent publication “Seeing Plants: Vision and Botany in Contemporary Art” through MnArtists. To learn more about Regan Golden, follow her on Instagram at @regangoldenmc and visit her website: regangolden.com/home.

Heather C. Lou has been creating a series of block and digital art prints capturing the need of healing and connection during distancing/isolation periods of the COVID-19 pandemic. This piece calls for viewers to use public health practices of staying distanced and wearing personal protective gear to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 to members of our community. Just because we’re masked or six feet apart doesn’t mean we’re not connected socially, spiritually, psychologically, emotionally, or psychically – it just means that our times together must be creative, innovative, and with radical hope and love at the core.

/hclou (she/her/hers) is an angry gemini earth dragon, multiracial, Asian, queer, cisgender, disabled, depressed, and anxious womxn of color artist based in St. Paul, Minnesota. To learn more about Heather C. Lou, visit www.HCLouArt.com or follow her on Instagram at @hclou or Patreon: www.patreon.com/hclouart.

I wanted to make a digital artwork piece that would bring hope to others in quarantine. My art is of a young girl looking out the window meditating to the sunshine before she starts her day. I want this to inspire others to see the positive light in their lives.

From Jayda Joy Mc: I am a young, African American, 13-year-old artist. I love to paint and draw and develop cartoon characters. I still love to sketch by hand, but I am starting to explore more digital art. I hope to publish a diverse cartoon series in the future. To learn more about Jayda Joy Mc, follow her on YouTube: www.youtube.com/channel/UCjhntFEU1c4FsZiryxyvq7Q.

This design communicates a “Gloves On” analogy. Boxers wear gloves in the ring, but, in this case, healthcare and other essential workers wear gloves, while they fight, on our behalf, to keep us all safe and healthy, and provide us with the necessary supplies for living. Gloved hands make a heart, demonstrating the love, respect, and appreciation we have for all essential workers. The design was done digitally, but relies on hand-rendered lettering, amplifying the human aspect of the situation.

From Jane Nicolo: I am a multidisciplinary artist and designer. The common thread in all of my work is the creation of a visual message. My artwork is rooted in realism, but often deconstructed into abstracted and conceptual aesthetics. My unique perspective stems from my early background in design and illustration, which permeates both the fine art and handcrafted designs that I create. To learn more about Jane Nicolo, follow her on Facebook at @artistjanenicolo and Instagram at @artist.jane.nicolo.

Seems like the most at risk are young and elder of those among the population. The “bridge” from child to elder is what I will address. Art is focused to those ages and I am from the native populations, I focus on that.

Steven Premo is a reservation and inner city raised, self-taught, artist/designer. Graphic design, illustrator, fine artist, muralist, fabric design. Father, husband and strong indigenous advocate.

I’ve been really drawn to pandemic lawn displays. How people post signs telling loved ones happy birthday, congrats on a baby, thanks to workers, even lawn flamingos or colorful pinwheels — it all feels human, loving and good to me. The artwork I’ve created merges my love of geometric shapes and pattern, with all of the Minnesota lawn love that is possible.

Emily Victory is an artist obsessed with pattern and color. Emily has degrees in both math and art, and loves combining the two. After living in Florida for a few years, she now lives and works out of her home studio in Watertown, MN. To learn more about Emily Victory, visit www.EmVictoryStudio.com or follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @EmVictoryStudio.

My work encourages viewers to reflect on the environment and social justice while engaging the individual to reflect about their own privilege and how they might affect change.

Gregory Wilkins is a mixed media artist residing in Mankato, Minnesota. To learn more about Gregory Wilkins, visit www.MNArtists.org/gregory-t-wilkins.

The LGBTQIA+ community, as a strong and active group, is showing so much love for Minnesota. During this pandemic, this community contributes themselves in so many ways, like holding virtual events to make people happy at home and having financial support for LGBTQIA+ people during this low-income period. In the artwork, the Minnesota map is surrounded by the rainbow waves which represent the power and love of the LGBTQIA+ community. We have to thank those who belong to the LGBTQIA+ community because they make Minnesota such a colorful place full of hope.

Alejandro (Junyao) Zhang is a Chinese interdisciplinary artist. He creates artworks that explore the visibility of queer identity by reenvisioning gallery space as a dance club. Now Zhang is pursuing an MFA in Visual Studies at Minneapolis College of Art and Design, studying interdisciplinary with performance and mixed media focus. To learn more about Alejandro (Junyao) Zhang, visit www.JunyaoZhang.com or follow him on Instagram at @alejandro_zhang.