Q& A with David Allen

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June 14, 2004 // UPDATED 2:04 pm - April 25, 2007
By: Garrett Robertson
Garrett Robertson

In the coming winters, light-rail transit stations will be packed with shivering commuters waiting for their trains. But not to worry, frozen travelers: David Allen, public art and design program manager for the Hiawatha Light Rail Project, has been working for the past three years to coordinate the art displayed at each station. Photos, audio and audiovisual kiosks will be available for commuters' listening and viewing pleasure, beginning on June 26 when LRT debuts.

What was the original motive behind artwork at the light-rail stations?

We want to make stations inviting, comfortable and familiar. We've worked to make each station distinct, and part of that is to reflect the immediate environment surrounding each station. The artists are being asked to create work that revolves around one of two themes under the title "Small Kindnesses, Weather Permitting." One theme is weather, something Minnesotans are preoccupied with; as well as pleasantness... Minnesota Nice, if you will.

What can people expect to see at the Downtown stations?

Stations Downtown will reflect the urban feeling there. The government station by City Hall is respectful of the historic nature of the beautiful building. That station will have some sculptures that will be installed the weeks of June 7 and June 14, as well as metal panels that revolve around the idea of democracy and government. At the Warehouse District station, we have historic photos that have been glazed onto tiles. And at the Downtown East station facing the plaza, adjacent to the station, are those giant brick patterns that were done by a Minneapolis artist.

Is most of the work done by Minnesota artists?

Roughly eight of the original 18 artists are from Minnesota and the rest are from all over the country.

What about the audiovisual art?

Those pieces will be located at 11 stations between the Nicollet station all the way out to Fort Snelling. We have engaged Minnesota artists, writers, videographers and poets to create short pieces that will be played through a series of interactive kiosks. The programming of each will run between 30 seconds and a minute-and-a-half.

How many audiovisual kiosks will there be?

Probably a dozen kiosks in Downtown; I think we've got close to 50 exhibits total.

Will certain kiosks play the same pieces continuously or randomly?

The way it is loaded is so that you'll hit a button or turn a crank on the kiosk and you'll get a different content or different piece every time you do that. They will be random. You could walk from one end of the station to the other and you could play one kiosk, then go to the other kiosk and see different things.