The Illuminated Reef Collective's installation from Avenues: Made Here. Photos by Steven Lang, courtesy of the Hennepin Theatre Trust

Best Picks: June 14–27

What to do downtown after work

Avenue art

The latest season of Made Here, downtown’s guerilla window gallery series from the Hennepin Theatre Trust, is focused on avenues. I’ll give you one guess which street the organizers had in mind.

Now in its tenth season, Made Here is the largest storefront window art program in the country. This time around, the theme is giving the program’s window artists an opportunity to reflect on the road, which the City of Minneapolis expects to redesign and reconstruct in 2020. It’s work that Joan Vorderbruggen, the trust’s director of public art and placemaking, said will undoubtedly change the program.

Vorderbruggen describes an avenue as “a path to some place,” but also a place in and of itself. For Made Here artists and Vorderbruggen, Hennepin Avenue is a road, but also a gallery, a place of business and a home to their community.

“We face a re-imagination of an avenue that won’t happen again in some of our lifetimes. How important is it for artists to creatively express what that word means to them?” she said on a recent stroll down Hennepin Avenue. “I think that artists really want to be part of the reconstruction and part of the process. This avenue is incredibly valuable for so many reasons to so many people in such romantic ways.”

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The trust is acknowledging the big decade milestone by bringing back artists from each of the previous seasons of Made Here to take part in a unique expansion of the program. Rather than a round of the greatest hits, Vorderbruggen said this season is full of creatives who have made the biggest impacts on the program. Nearly a dozen previous artists will be a part of the Made Here Alumni Gallery at the PNC Encore Lounge inside the trust’s building at 9th & Hennepin.

“Each individual artist in this run has a really incredible Made Here story,” she said. “They were selected by the panel because they were artists who brought something to the project that made a positive change. Their work helped us with program development and how we would look to what was possible for the next run.”

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Sayge Carroll and Katrina Knutson, two artists featured in 2015’s “Intersections” season, are some of the first artists to bring a social justice message to Made Here. Their window installation inside the Renaissance Square building dove into a theme of Black Lives Matter.

“They did it in a way that was so beautiful and nuanced. It really set the tone for what was possible to broach really charged, tense subjects with creative installations. So that was a big breakthrough with Made Here,” Vorderbruggen said.

New this year is a project from FAIR School Downtown, which is wrapping the blank, rounded wall at 10th & Hennepin with student art pictured on large vinyl banners. It will serve as a gateway into the city’s theater district as the former National Camera Exchange building across the street, a popular Made Here venue, is redeveloped into office space and housing. Made Here work is concentrated along Hennepin and 5th and 10th streets.

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And, for the first time, Vorderbruggen, who launched Made Here five years ago, will put together her own installation with Minneapolis MADDADS, an organization that frequently engages at-risk and homeless youth at the trust’s events.

“It’s kind of fun to get my hands in the creative side of things,” she said.

Made Here provides a $750 stipend to each artist or team. Vorderbruggen said the program is gender balanced and 40 percent of its artists are people of color.

Avenues: Made Here will launch on Wednesday, June 20 with a pre-Twin Cities Pride celebration during the trust’s 5 to 10 on Hennepin event in the parking lot at 5th & Hennepin. The event will feature walking tours of this season’s installations, games, street performers and free refreshments. Avenues: Made Here run through Nov. 5.

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The beer next door

Deep down inside Northeast’s Miller Textile Building, once a complex of flour bag manufacturing, there’s a really old door.

What’s beyond that door isn’t important.

“(It’s) almost a dungeon-looking thing,” said Nate Larson, the head brewer of HeadFlyer Brewing Co.

Customers can’t seem to stop asking what’s beyond that door, so HeadFlyer Brewing, which opened last year on the ground floor of the building, decided to name its experimental beer series after it.

headflyer feature webEach Thursday HeadFlyer releases a new small-batch beer, whether it’s a new style of brew or an infusion of an existing beer. Larson said they’re planning to use cocktail bitters from Five Watt to infuse beers. Then, after several weeks, patrons can try them all at a flight night. Larson and the brewers at HeadFlyer are also getting into milkshake IPAs, which are brewed with lactose for a full-bodied brew. Larson is dreaming up orange-cream dreamsicle and blueberry milkshake IPAs.

But you’ll have to check out the events to see what’s being tapped. Larson said there’s “an element of surprise” to what beer they’ll release next. Once the beers are gone, they’re gone.

“People know they’re going to get something new and unexpected,” he said, “and we see what people are craving at any given time.”

Check out the Beyond the Door series at HeadFlyer Brewing, 861 E. Hennepin Ave., from 3 p.m.–10 p.m. on Thursdays.

Photos by Eric Best
Photos by Eric Best