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Archive | April, 2017

Can Can Wonderland 2

Can Can Wonderland filled with art, ideas, and innovation

Posted on 10 April 2017 by Calvin

By JAN WILLMS
Can Can Wonderland at 755 Prior Ave. is a connector between the past and the future. That is how Jennifer Pennington, co-founder and CEO of the arts-based entertainment center that features mini golf and so much more, describes it. “A lot of mini golf courses use technology and are motion activated, and we have that, but we also have the old-time pinball machines,” she noted. “It’s nostalgia, but innovation. It’s cool.”

Photo left: Mini golf players enjoy a whimsical course created by local artists at the new Can Can Wonderland, 755 Prior Ave. (Photo by Jan Willms)

The center’s other founders are Chris Pennington, Christi Atkinson and Rob Clapp. They first started toying with the idea of the unique amusement center in 2008 but did not start pursuing it until 2010. Can Can Wonderland has been open about three months.

“The concept started in a few different ways,” Pennington explained. “One was just wanting to get more people involved with arts and making arts more fun and accessible. We had been involved in some other projects that had raised funds for the arts and private art galleries. Then the recession hit. Galleries were able to stay open because of those programs.”

She said that realization challenged them to want to create art that was self-funded. “Now there’s talk about maybe the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) closing, so we wanted to try and figure something out. Arts funding has always been difficult and hard to come by.”

Photo right: A balloon creature points the way to Wonderland. (Photo by Jan Willms)

Pennington said one of the greatest challenges in getting Can Can Wonderland off the ground was securing all the funding that was needed. “A place like this has never been done before, and it’s a new concept. We had to get people confident in what we are doing and take a risk on us,” she explained.

It took about seven to eight months from the beginning of construction on Can Can Wonderland until the operation opened. It occupies 20,000 square feet of the 450,000 square foot building that was American Can factory in St. Paul. “The building had been vacant for five years,” Pennington said.

She said that for the mini golf course, they asked artists for submissions of ideas to design a course they had always wanted to play on. “We had proposals from as far away as Australia,” she said, “but we ended up selecting local artists.” She said a prospective artist was given two options. “You could submit a design idea, and we would hire fabricators to construct it, or you could submit a design that you could build yourself. But you had to tell us you had the skills to do that,” Pennington stated. She said the resulting course is a mix of both types of proposals.

As far as other forms of entertainment, the World’s Most Dangerous Polka Band performs every Friday night. The group has been together for over 40 years and served as the house band for Nye’s Polonaise Room before it closed.

“We also have a 15-year-old DJ who is playing,” she said. “We have senior performers, too, and on Thursday nights a variety show with a house band and MC and different acts.”

Photo left: A bank of old-fashioned pinball machines provide entertainment for all ages. (Photo by Jan Willms)

Those acts have included circus performers, artists, jugglers, ballet dancers, tap dancers and tuba players. “We have also had cloggers perform,” Pennington said. “And every Friday we have Tappy Hour, with free tap dance lessons with shoes provided.”

“We try to have something for everyone, no matter what your age or background,” she noted.
Can Can Wonderland offers concession foods at this time, with plans for getting a grill, fryer and hood, and expanding to a bigger restaurant.

Craft cocktails are also offered. “We want to be creative on our drinks,” Pennington explained. “So we contracted with an organization called Bittercube, out of Milwaukee. They offer these creative, delicious cocktails, making their own bitters. They’ve worked in a lot of local restaurants in the Twin Cities and some new hotels in the warehouse district. You can get an Old Fashioned with an ice cube that is like a colored golf ball. It is really pretty and tastes great.”

There is a space called the Boardwalk within the Can Can Wonderland’s premises, with different activities. There may be musicians who play for tips, face painting henna painting, or caricaturists. “Some artists want to do installations,” Pennington said. “We have a small wall for fine arts that will rotate every four months. We are getting some submissions for that now. So we are pretty open to whatever people want to do. We want to be here for emerging artists and established artists.”

Photo left: All kinds of creations, including this cyclone, provide challenges at the mini golf course at Can Can Wonderland. (Photo by Jan Willms)

The organization’s website reads: “We are proud to be the first arts-based public benefit corporation in Minnesota. Our social purpose is to be an economic engine for the arts.”

Pennington said the most challenging part once the doors opened is that crowds have been bigger than expected. “We have to scramble a lot to get enough employees and get staffing levels where they need to be,” she commented.

She said she has been most pleased with the diversity of the people who come. Some have told her they drove a thousand miles to see the place. “I don’t know how they heard about us, but that’s very nice,” she said. She also noted that some of the former workers from the can factory have visited, people who worked in the location 40 years ago.

“We want to be a great community gathering place, where people do have a good time,” Pennington said. “I think that’s important. We have a lot of serious issues we have to come together to solve, and if we’re not having fun together, I don’t know how we can come together to make serious decisions. We just want Can Can Wonderland to be a fun place where people can come and have fun and feel safe and be delighted and discover new things.”

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Tool Library 8

Tool Library opens in Midway with excitement and fanfare

Posted on 10 April 2017 by Calvin

All photos by JAN WILLMS
(Click on images to see them larger in a separate window)
Home remodeling enthusiasts, weekend carpenters, wood crafters and do-it-yourself repairers all had an opportunity to explore the new St. Paul Tool Library at its March grand opening. For an annual membership fee of $55, neighborhood residents can visit the Tool Library, 755 Prior Ave. N., and borrow from a catalog of 25,000 home improvement tools for up to a week at a time.

The grand opening featured free food, free beer, music, games for the kids and a chance for everyone to get a close look at the many tools available. Members can also get a 20% discount on monthly classes in woodworking, sewing, home improvement, and crafts.

Many of those attending expressed that they were very excited a business like this with tools that can be borrowed was now open in the old American Can factory right in the Midway.

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Vandalia Glass 76

Vandalia Glass Works is all fired up

Posted on 10 April 2017 by Calvin

A simple paper weight becomes a work of art. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

By MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN
The Vandalia Glass Works is a public, state-of-the-art glassblowing facility located in the Vandalia Tower, 550 Vandalia Ave. The spacious second-floor studio offers space for teaching glassblowing, is available for rent to more than a dozen glass artists working on their craft, and houses an inspired art gallery of glass items for sale by resident artists.

Bryce Borkhuis, one of two studio managers at the glassworks, said, “We’ve been in this space since last April, and the requests for lessons keep pouring in. We offer two crash courses: our beginning students make a paperweight, and our intermediate students make a short drinking glass.”

Photo left: Bryce Borkhuis, studio manager, shaped molten glass with a hot pad made from newspaper pages. Glass artists don’t wear gloves, even though they’re working with a material that has been heated to more than 2,000 degrees. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

“During after hours,” Bork­huis explained, “we have 15 regularly-scheduled resident artists who rent space from us at the rate of $35/hour. That fee includes the cost of molten glass, and the use of our pipes, furnaces, and tools.”

The practice of glassblowing may seem cutting edge, especially if you’ve just discovered it, but the technique has been around since the time of the Roman Empire. The first century B.C.E. Syrians are widely credited with the discovery that glass could be blown from the end of a hollow tube into different shapes. While new technologies have introduced modern equipment, the fundamentals of glassblowing remain the same.

“People are drawn to glassblowing because the final product is so beautiful, but also because the process is so challenging,” Borkhuis said. “It takes a long time to become a skillful glass artist.”

He explained that “the process starts out by dipping the end of a 4’ long metal blowpipe into one of the two furnaces here. Each furnace has a cauldron of clear, molten glass inside. It’s kind of like sticking your fork into a plate of spaghetti, only a lot hotter. The furnace temperature is raised to 2,050 degrees Fahrenheit. You never, ever stop turning the pipe in your fingers, so that the molten glass doesn’t fall off.”

Photo right: Borkhuis re-heated the glass he was working in what glass blowers affectionately call, “The Glory Hole.” The temperature here is 100 degrees higher than the furnace. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Once the pipe is removed from the furnace, the glass starts to cool at the rate of 50 degrees per second. Before it hardens, the molten glass is dipped into crushed bits of colored glass, called frit, on a table several feet away.

In addition to the regular classes taught by staff, Vandalia Glassworks occasionally brings in visiting guest artists. Grant Garmezy, who lives and works in Richmond, VA, creates highly realistic glass form sculptures influenced by his love of the south—and the animals that live there. Garmezy will be teaching a week-long workshop during the last week of April at Vandalia Glassworks, in which students will learn to use a variety of torches and sculpting techniques to bring their own sculptures to life.

One to two years of glassblowing experience is required to register for this advanced level class. Email info@vandaliaglassworks.com or call 651-744-0000 for more information.

Garmezy will create a sculpture of his own on Sat., Apr. 29, the weekend of the St. Paul Art Crawl. Stop by the studio between noon and 10pm to see this nationally recognized artist at work.

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EAB 07 slider

Time is running out in the fight against Emerald Ash Borer

Posted on 10 April 2017 by Calvin

By MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN
The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) is an invasive beetle that made its way to North America 15 years ago. Adult beetles eat ash foliage, causing little damage—but larvae feed on the inner bark, killing ash trees by cutting off the transport of water and nutrients.

According to Rachel Coyle, City of St. Paul Urban Forester, “The EAB will eventually claim all our ash trees. That amounts to about 25% of St. Paul’s boulevard trees, and is a staggering loss of our urban forest.”

Photo right: The City of St. Paul has marked hundreds of ash trees with green ribbons as part of a public awareness campaign. This stretch of trees along Marshall Ave. east of the Lake St. Bridge is being treated for EAB infestation. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

The EAB first showed up in Great Lakes shipping ports in 2002, in packing crates from overseas. It has since spread to 29 states and two Canadian provinces; its arrival in Minnesota was confirmed in 2009. Every North American ash species is susceptible to the EAB, which will kill all untreated trees it encounters within ten years.

The City of St. Paul has done extensive marking of ash trees with green ribbons, directing interested persons to their website to learn more about the infestation at www.stpaul.gov/eab. The green ribbons are part of a public awareness campaign to inform people of just how many ash trees line St. Paul boulevards.

According to Coyle, “The ash was a natural choice to replace elm trees lost to Dutch Elm Disease in the 1970’s. It’s an inexpensive tree, and it grows fast. Unfortunately, there are monocultures of ash planted throughout St. Paul. We have about 18,000 planted along city boulevards, and we’ve decided to treat 3,500 with an insecticide to kill the EAB.”

The ash trees that the City of St. Paul is treating are in highly visible locations, with trunk diameters measuring between 10-20”. The chemical used to treat them is a non-neonicotinoid, meaning that it doesn’t pose a threat to pollinators. Derived from natural products, the chemical TREEage is considered the “lowest-risk.”

Photo left: The City of St. Paul has decided to chemically treat 3,500 of its 18,000 boulevard Ash trees for Emerald Ash Borer. Treated trees bear a metal tag on the street-side at about 4’ off the ground. The trees are treated every three years. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

“We’re treating the trees we can,” Coyle said, “and those we can’t treat we’re removing. We’ve been doing what we call ‘Structured Removal’ since 2010, where we take out whole blocks at a time. Our primary concern now is removing infested trees, and there’s a backlog of those. The trees are a safety hazard. We currently have funding to remove about 1,000 trees per year.”

According to Coyle “the Forestry Department received less money than we had requested from the city this year. We’ve removed 800 trees so far in 2017 and, unfortunately for those customers, there is no funding available for stump grinding and tree replacement.

“We expect homeowners to be very upset about this,” she said. As Coordinator of the EAB Management Program, Coyle is used to delivering news to homeowners that they don’t want to hear. She encouraged citizens to contact their city council member and the mayor’s office to express their opinions about the budget shortfall.

Karen Zumach, forester and vice president of the Minnesota Shade Tree Advisory Committee (MNSTAC) reiterated those thoughts. “Everyone has to start making a lot more noise,” she said, “and if municipalities can’t provide replacement trees, invest in them yourselves. If a legislator hears about an issue five times, it will rise to the top of their list of constituent concerns.”

Zumach explained, “The death curve for EAB is rising, and more trees are going to start dying faster. MNSTAC advocates for treating far more trees than our current funding will allow. With our unprecedented number of ash trees, Minnesota has more to lose than any other state—and our municipalities have been too slow in responding.”

The goal of MNSTAC is to create a centralized funding source to deal with the EAB infestation. Their bill has requested funding from the state in the last two legislative sessions. While it has strong bipartisan support, its outcome is still unclear. Zumach concluded, “With proper funding, municipalities could treat their ash trees for twenty years for less cost than removing and replacing them.”

Homeowners can obtain a free permit for planting a boulevard tree at their expense on city property.

Once the application is received, a city forester will schedule a site visit and make a recommendation for what type of tree to choose. Visit www.stpaul.gov/forestry to apply for a permit.

“Boulevard trees are subject to the peculiar pressures of road salt, restricted root growth, and pollution from cars, Coyle said. “Consult with the visiting forester, but stay open-minded. If you’re investing in a tree, you may actually be better off planting it in your yard than on the boulevard.”

Coyle cautioned that we need to learn from our mistakes: invasive species are not going to end with the EAB. If choosing a new boulevard or yard tree, her strongest suggestion was to not plant a maple. She said, “The next anticipated invasive insect species is the Asian Longhorn Beetle, and its preferred food source is maple trees.”

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Vandalia Glass 82 slider

Midway and South Como are Saint Paul Art Crawl destinations

Posted on 10 April 2017 by Calvin

Kevin Caufield’s high fire porcelain kitchen and serving ware are minimally decorated and beautifully thrown. Caufield is owner of Caufield Clay Works. “Pottery was ‘Plan B’ for what I thought I would do with my life,” Caufield said. “I grew up one of seven kids in an Irish Catholic family on Long Island. I always figured I’d be a firefighter like my Dad, but it didn’t quite turn out that way.” (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

By MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN
The Spring Saint Paul Art Crawl is approaching fast. This semi-annual, three-day event will close out the month of April with studio tours and art experiences on Fri., Apr. 28 from 6-10pm; Sat., Apr. 29 from 12-8pm; and Sun., Apr. 30 from 12-5pm.

Art Crawl Director Alexzan Richmond said, “To date, we have 341 artists registered to show their work in 33 different buildings throughout the city. Of those buildings, eight are located within Midway, Raymond Station (Raymond and University avenues), and South Como. The diversity of artists and the media they work in are tremendous. At many of the studios, visitors can see artists at work and maybe try their hand at making something themselves.”

Ceramic artist Mary Jo Schmith owns the Front Avenue Pottery and Tile Company at 895 Front Ave. in South Como. “I got involved in the Saint Paul Art Crawl four years ago because I wanted to offer my neighbors a fun, informal clay workshop where they could make something useful,” Schmith said.

Photo right: Mary Jo Schmith, owner of Front Avenue Pottery and Tile Company, will be firing it up in South Como. A graduate of the University of Minnesota, Schmith has been throwing pots professionally for more than 20 years. Her work is playfully decorative, high quality, functional stoneware for table and home. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

This spring, visitors to Schmith’s studio can join in afternoon workshops on Saturday and Sunday from 12-4pm to hand-build a garden lantern. Finished lanterns will be kiln-fired, and can be picked up later by arrangement with Schmith. There is no charge for the workshop, but donations will be cheerfully accepted for the cost of materials. Children ages five+ are welcome to participate. The studio’s pottery wheel will be available to try every day of the crawl.

“The Saint Paul Art Crawl is not a juried event,” said Richmond, “meaning that anyone who makes art by hand is welcome to show their work. There’s a range of experience on the part of participating artists and a range of prices for those wishing to purchase art. I like to say; you can spend anywhere from $5 to $20,000 here; I’ve seen the whole gamut.”

Artists pay a small fee to participate: $45 to list their studio name and location in the event catalog, or $65 to buy a listing with a photo of their work included. Catalogs will be available at each location.

Photo left: Kevin Caufield, owner of Caufield Clay Works, at the wheel in his Midway studio at 2242 University Ave., #150. Caufield has ten student wheels which see constant use; his popular classes, such as a two-hour wine and pottery event, are booked out three months in advance. This is Caufield’s 25th year of participating in the St. Paul Art Crawl. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

The Saint Paul Art Crawl draws more than 20,000 visitors twice a year, charges no admission, and will be distributing a full color, 112-page catalog at no charge. How has that been sustainable for more than a quarter of a century? The answer, according to Richmond lies in two golden words, “community partnerships.”

“We see this crawl as an opportunity to deepen relationships between businesses and artists,” Richmond said, “and between artists and community members. The St. Paul Federal Credit Union is the official sponsor this year. They’ve been a tremendous supporter of ours; they understand how critical artists are to the health of this community.”

Richmond continued, “In addition, we’ve received so much support from local businesses including AM 950 KTNF, the Dark Horse Bar and Eatery, C & E Lofts, Metro Transit, Modern Press, the Pioneer Press and many others.

MTC will be providing free bus passes for Saturday and Sunday Art Crawl visitors. Passes can be downloaded at www.saintpaulartcrawl.org.

There are many reasons to come out and enjoy the Saint Paul Art Crawl. It’s family-friendly, it’s fun, it’s free and, thanks to MTC, it’s even easy to get around. But most of all, it’s inspiring—and you just never know what could happen when you get inspired.

This event is produced by the St. Paul Art Collective, which has been connecting art and community since 1977.

Find the following local participants in the Saint Paul Art Tour:

Bindery Building, 708 Vandalia St.
• JJ Jucick-Axis Pottery: Contemporary Ceramics
• Jeff Dahlin, E& LBindery: Book Binding, Blank Journals
• Angie Bailey: Author, blogger, humorist
• Hilary Stein: Oil Painting
• Morgan Brooke: Mosaics, Pastel Drawings
• Rich Silha Professional B/W Services: Photographer
• Lost & Bound BookArts: Hand bound books

Carleton Place Lofts, 2285 University Ave. W.
• The Studio Project: Handmade Journals, Paintings, and Joy Pages
• Healing Zimbel Dolls: Healing Dolls
• Nickerson Furnishing & Design: Furniture
• Jamie Lang: Encaustic Paintings on Handmade Adobe Tiles
• Jesse Andersen: Ink and marker drawings
• Liz Lang: Acrylic Paintings
• Nelson Cain’s Pootie Art Smackdown: Groovy Abstract Acrylic
• Reiki Laughter: relax and take time for self!
• AK Hed Vincent: Abstract Expressionist Painting & Photography
• Casey Wollschlaeger: Ceramics; photography
• Carleton Voices Print Collective: Letterpress and screen prints
• Cindy Lanphear: Drawing
• Michael Hussey: Painting, fine fragrances
• Eggs by OCK: Pysanky, ancient art form
• Deep Magenta Designs: Textiles and Fine Art

Dow Building, 2242 University Ave. W.
• Don Dickinson: Urban Landscape
• Linda Ricklefs Baudry: Pastel with mixed media
• Linda Snouffer: Botanical Printmaker
• Ryan James Ryoe: Street Art & Wizardry
• Greta Claire: Contemporary abstract sorceress
• Marcia Söderman: Abstract landscape painting
• Jason Kaping: Wheel Thrown Pottery
• Kevin F. Caufield: Porcelain & woodfired pottery
• Joshua W Murray: Collage / Mixed Media / Photography
• Denise Minkler Marych: Nature-inspired oil paintings on copper
• Madcapzest: Collage/Wearable Mixed Media
• Erik Pearson: Figurative expressionistic paintings
• Izzi Xiques: Linework ink illustrations
• Tim Monsters!: Plush monsters, screenprint posters & apparel

Front Avenue Pottery and Tile Co., 895 Front Ave.    
• Mary Jo Schmith: Functional playfully decorative stoneware
• Laura Thyne: Low fired functional pottery
• Jenny Levernier: Sterling silver and stone jewelry
• Linden Wicklund: Functional wheel thrown porcelain pottery
• Marc Johnson-Pencook: Original pen and ink drawings
• Brett Monahan Pottery: Functional reduction fired pottery
• Ryan Ball: MN made, wheel thrown, functional pottery
• Steve Wicklund: Functional wheel thrown porcelain pottery
• Jim Gindorff: Landscape Photography

Midway Triangle Building, 2500 University Ave. W.
• DeAnne L Parks: Contemporary paintings and ceramic sculpture
• Greta Sandquist: Acrylic paintings & handmade jewelry
• Matthew G.G. Holm: Painting, Drawing and Printmaking
• Marisa Martinez: Mixed Metal and Stone Artisan Jewelry
• Elle Halls: Commercial and Portrait Photography
• Amy Sabatier Designs: Inspired Sterling Silver/Mixed Metal Jewelry
• Zahnworks Studio: Bronze Sculpture
• Scarlet A Design by Amanda Kopplin: Organic Silver Jewelry
• Kay Raabe: Paintings and Drawings
• KMK Designs: Costume and Fabric art. Mix of other Mediums
• Chuck Solberg: Ceramics
• Melanie Bethke: Vibrant abstract oil paintings
• Artsy Images Photography: Fine art nudes & studio photography
• Wendy McCarty: Oil Painting, Landscapes,Flowers, Figurative

Vandalia Tower, 550 Vandalia St.
• Vandalia Glassworks
• H Kremen Glass: Hand made glass art
• Neil Johnston: Paintings
• Jake Stokman: Glass Art
• Rachel Masica: Hand Blown Glass Art
• Ed Charbonneau: Painting
• Steven Weagel: Lighted Sculptures
• Jon Reischl: Abstract figurative painting
• Jeremy Szopinski: Abstract painting
• Bryce Borkhuis: Glass Artist
• Michael Hess: Hand blown glass

Can Can Wonderland, 755 N. Prior Ave.
• Multiple artists and artisans

Interact Center, 1860 W. Minnehaha Ave.    
• Interact Center creates art that challenges perceptions of disability

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Hamline Midway Library events

Hamline Midway Library events

Posted on 10 April 2017 by Calvin

The Hamline Midway Library, 1558 W. Minnehaha Ave. is going to be a hive of arts and education activities in April and May. Just about every day of the week, you’ll find an engaging program happening to wake up your spirit—not to mention all the essential information and entertainment resources you can always count on at the library, including CDs, DVDs, books, expert librarian assistance, and Internet access.

Preschool Storytimes in English happen on Fridays, 10:30-11am, with upcoming events on Apr. 14, 21, and 28 and May 5, 12, and 19. These fun storytimes teach social skills, listening comprehension, letter and number recognition, and more—all through songs, stories, puppets, and fingerplays. Children of all activity levels are welcome!

The library hosts Evening/Pajama Stories in English on Tuesdays, 6:30-7pm, with upcoming evening storytimes on Apr. 18 and 25 and May 2, 9, and 16. Pajamas, blankets, and stuffed animals are all welcome at these family events. Hear a bedtime story with your friends and neighbors!
Science Saturdays feature hands-on arts and science activities for school-aged kids and their families. On Sat., Apr. 15, 1:30-3pm, the focus is Create a Board Game. Participants can learn about planning, hypothesizing, and predicting as they create their own board games. They can also experience an over-sized board game for large muscle fun.

Kaleidoscope brings arts programming to preschoolers at the library in May. On Tuesday, May 9, 10:30-11:30am, Kaleidoscope presents M3C Cambodian Dance, offering traditional Cambodian dance performance that will engage all ages.

On Mon., Apr. 24, 10am-12pm, the Twin Cities Media Alliance and MELSA present Protect Your Privacy: Staying Secure Online. In this workshop, you can learn how to ensure that your Internet browsing, purchases, email, and other online activity is as secure as possible. Discover tools to protect your online privacy.

Book Clubs for all Ages
The Teen Book Club meets Sat., Apr. 15, 3-4pm to discuss teen books of all kinds: graphic novels, Battle of the Books, Read Brave, and more. For grades 9 and up.

The Show and Tell Book Club meets Sat., Apr. 22, 1:30-2:15pm. Join librarian Shelly to share books and do fun activities. Best for first, second, and third graders.

The Saints and Sinners Mystery Book Club meets Sat., May 6, 1-2pm to discuss mysteries. This month’s book is “Spider Woman’s Daughter” by Anne Hillerman. Contact volunteer G. Balter for more information at 651-224-5570 or gerribalter@gmail.com.

Films
On Fri., Apr, 14, the library hosts a family-friendly Silent Movie Matinee featuring Laurel and Hardy’s short silent classic “Liberty” and Charlie Chaplin’s “The Immigrant.” Enjoy slapstick comedy, hot popcorn, and cider at this event co-sponsored by the Hamline Midway Library Association. Generally best enjoyed by ages 5 and up, but all ages welcome.

On Wed., Apr. 26, Jody’s Documentary Film Series presents two short films, “Marathon” by filmmakers Theo Rigby and Kate McLean and “The Words in the Margins” by filmmaker Sara Mott. “Marathon” focuses on Julio, an immigrant from Ecuador who has spent 15 years in the United States working to make a decent life for himself and his family. Now he’s set his sights on winning the New York marathon. “The Words in the Margin,” tells the story of Axel, a 31-year-old who wants to learn to read and is paired with Steve from Kenya, who’s awaiting his United States work permit. These events are a collaboration with the award-winning PBS documentary series POV and the Hamline Midway Elders.

Arts, Dance, Literary Events
On Wed., Apr. 19, the library presents a reception and reading featuring contributors to the groundbreaking anthology “A Good Time for the Truth.” The event features IBe, Sherry Quan Lee, and Rodrigo Sanchez-Chavarria presenting from essays that tackle race in Minnesota with unprecedented honesty. Reception with refreshments starts at 6pm, followed by reading at 6:30pm with Q and A. The Hamline University Bookstore will be selling copies of the presenters’ books. Co-sponsored by the Friends of the St. Paul Public Library, the Hamline Midway Library Association, and Hamline University.

The ARTful Expression series encourages adults to explore their artistic side through hands-on art-making classes. ARTful Expression: Drawing Light meets on Thur., Apr. 20, 1-3pm. In this workshop, adults are invited to look past what they know, slow down, and learn to identify light, highlight, and shadow to add modeling, form, and depth to drawings and bring them to life!

ARTful Expression: Drawing as Experience meets Thur., Apr. 27, 1-3pm to explore experiential drawing as a way of developing our drawing practice and inspiring the creative process. This series is facilitated by The Drawing Project artists for adults and registration is required. The first sessions of this series have filled quickly, so call the library at 651-642-0293 to reserve a spot.

The Known by Heart Poetry Class with writer and educator Naomi Cohn meets Wednesdays in May from 1-3pm. The first class on May 3 is Meet Your Muse: Get Inspired to Write. The second class on May 10 is Writing the World Around Us. May 17 the topic is Writing About Family, and on May 24, the focus is on Body Language. Registration for the series is required and begins Apr. 19; please talk to a librarian or see the library website at www.sppl.org for more details on registration and what to bring to each class. This series is co-presented by Known by Heart and the Hamline Midway Elders.

Library Closures
All libraries will be closed Sunday, Apr. 16 for Easter and Thur., May 11 for a staff training.

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Milwaukee developer named to redevelop Midway Center site

Posted on 10 April 2017 by Calvin

By JANE MCCLURE
Irgens, a Milwaukee-based developer, will help redevelop the Midway Center site. The St. Paul Port Authority Board voted Mar. 28 to approve a joint development agreement with Irgens and the Minnesota United soccer team.

The vote was by Capital City Properties, a Port real estate subsidiary that will negotiate and enter into a contract with Irgens.

If all goes as planned, the partners will eventually buy 16.5 acres of the Midway Center superblock. That means tearing down the center section that house the Rainbow supermarket and stores to the east. That would make way for the north end of the planned stadium, as well as green space and mixed-use development. It could also give a needed boost to eventual redevelopment of the entire 34.5-acre superblock bounded by Pascal St. and St. Anthony, Snelling and University avenues.

Irgens is a veteran developer, with a long track record in medical office and retail development around the nation. A company spokesperson said the developer is excited to be part of the Midway project, which is anchored by a $150 million Major League Soccer stadium for Minnesota United.

“It’s a great area,” said Irgens representative Christopher Bowen, “and we see a lot of good synergies here. We’re excited to be part of the project.”

The company will have 60 percent ownership in the joint venture, Minnesota United will have 30 percent, and the Port Authority will have 10 percent.

After the vote Port President Lee Krueger praised the agreement, saying that about 20 developers were spoken with about partnering on the site. Earlier this year the Port entered into a master lease with shopping center owner RK Midway, to jump-start the development project and get the stadium moving.
Krueger said the Port’s intent is to step aside when the time comes for the team and Irgens to buy property. The Port won’t have a financial involvement. He described the agency’s role as that of a conduit.

Irgens will be the day-to-day shopping center manager and has the right to buy out the other partners by the end of 2022. The Port hopes to exit the partnership by year’s end.

Port documents indicate that redevelopment could include a mix of “housing, retailers, restaurants, medical office, entertainment and athletic facilities.” It’s also indicated that stadium construction would get started this summer. It’s expected that Minnesota United will continue to play in Minneapolis in 2018 as well as this year, with games here starting in 2019.

The new shopping center partnership is to pay Midway Center owner RK Midway of New York $2.3 million per year, which is what current leases generate. The managing partners can, under the agreement, seek new and additional tenants.

Another part of the package would have Irgens and RK Midway redeveloping space along Snelling, which was subdivided from the main shopping center a few years ago. The center has several outlots, including the restaurant and multi-tenant building along University.

What affects the development timetable is the existing leases, especially that of Rainbow, which is owned by SuperValu. With SuperValu also owning Midway Cub, the grocery chain likely wouldn’t want a competitor moving into the new development. Midway Center has vacant space that will remain standing after stadium construction gets underway. But if and how tenants would be moved elsewhere or bought out remains a question mark.

“The Port Authority’s selection of Irgens, which has demonstrated a commitment to a vibrant, environmentally sustainable development and thoughtful building design, brings another exciting entrant to the St. Paul market,” said St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman in a statement. “Irgens has a commendable track record of developing mixed-use, transit-connected projects. Like so much of the work that we’ve done in St. Paul, the Snelling-Midway project is a responsible and bold step toward St. Paul’s future.”

In the meantime, the soccer stadium’s needed tax breaks continue rolling through the 2017 Minnesota legislature. The House in late March approved a tax bill that includes the stadium’s property tax break and a break on construction materials sales taxes.

Minnesota United lead owner Bill McGuire has said in the past that the project cannot proceed without tax breaks. The team is seeking a property tax exemption a well as a sales tax break on project construction materials.

The Minnesota Department of Revenue has estimated that the stadium would generate about $3.1 million in property taxes per year if it were not exempt.

The stadium tax break ran up against some last-minute opposition Mar. 30 as Rep. Cal Bahr (R) Anoka attempted to delete both tax exemptions. He argued for not lowering the property tax base but fell short in a bid to remove the stadium-related amendments. The bill goes on to the Senate.
Gov. Mark Dayton is in support of the stadium tax breaks.

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Midway Murals is back, this time at Snelling and Englewood

Posted on 10 April 2017 by Calvin

By JONATHAN OPPENHEIMER
After a one-year hiatus from mural work, the Midway Public Art Working Group and Hamline University are leading the charge on two new public art projects along Snelling Ave. this coming summer and fall. The two murals will bring new life to both the east and west sides of the intersection of Snelling and Englewood, welcoming people entering the neighborhood from the north and splashing color via a brand new mural and an exciting restoration project. An Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign is scheduled to begin Apr. 11, with funds to be split equally between the two projects.

The new mural project, currently dubbed Midway Murals 2.0, is the product of months of planning and a public Request for Proposals put out in February of this year. Three members of the Working Group and five members of the Hamline faculty joined forces to initiate a project that will provide an opportunity for an emerging or pre-emerging artist to lead a project that builds bridges between Hamline University and the Hamline Midway neighborhood.

Three finalists have been chosen to submit more detailed proposals in mid-April, with a winner to be selected in May. The mural will then be installed in summer or early fall on the north-facing wall of 742 Snelling Ave., directly adjacent to the ramp leading to Super America. The tentative plans include new projects at the site in future years, with the existing mural, which will be installed on a detachable surface, moving to a new home at that time.

Across the street, on the north wall of the building housing Mirror of Korea and Hamline Hardware Hank, an equally exciting mural project will simultaneously be taking place, this one the restoration of Picnic at Newell Park, by local artist Chris Baird. This year marks the 30-year anniversary of the mural, which continues to impress, but called for a refresh after years of braving Minnesota winters. Baird has generously agreed to return to spruce it up this summer, while she juggles her work as a nanny and jewelry maker, and local residents are eager to celebrate along with her as she restores it to its original glory.

The Midway Public Art Working Group grew out of the 2015 Midway Murals project and is made up of volunteers who live, work, and go to school in the neighborhood. The group received formal approval two years ago to work under the auspices of the Hamline Midway Coalition, and since then, it has supported two local Paint the Pavement projects, with three more in the works for this year. Its mission is “to enhance livability, pride, interaction, and vibrancy in the Midway community through public art.”

Everyone is welcome to attend quarterly meetings and can sign up for the email list by contacting the author at the email listed below.

These murals are possible only with the support of countless volunteers, the Hamline University community, the donations of generous local businesses, and the monetary support of those who contribute to the upcoming crowdfunding campaign. Donations of all amounts are greatly appreciated and can be made at https://igg.me/at/midway-murals-2-0 beginning Apr. 11.

Please contact Jonathan at jonathan@midwaymurals.com with questions, to join the public art email list, to help sponsor the murals, or to donate outside of the crowdfunding campaign.

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Children’s Center Montessori loses its home after 45 years

Posted on 10 April 2017 by Calvin

Editor’s Note: After printing of the April 2017 publication, the Monitor has learned that the Montessori school has received a one-year lease extension.

By JANE MCCLURE
When school bells ring a final time in June, Midway area institution Children’s Center Montessori will be saying goodbye to its longtime location. The preschool and kindergarten, which just marked its 45th anniversary, must move out of its space at Minnehaha Ave. and Asbury St. this summer.

The school has operated at 1536 W. Minnehaha Ave. since 1971. For many years it rented from and shared space with Knox Presbyterian Church. But Knox, due to declining membership, merged almost four years ago with North Como Presbyterian Church. The last service at Knox was in November 2013.

The Knox property, which includes a 1914 Prairie-style church and a newer education wing, was sold after the congregation moved out. Other churches and tenants, including the Montessori school, remained.

The church property was sold to International Discipleship Ministries, which has indicated to Children’s Center Montessori that it will need to relocate this summer. The International Discipleship Ministries program local office could not be reached for comment.

Montessori Director Gretchen Rademacher Harkins said she doesn’t know where the school will go. “We’re looking, and we’re trying to stay in the neighborhood.”

A Facebook post about the impending move brought an outpouring of comments and suggestions, including comments from people who attended Children’s Center. In some families, more than one generation attended school there. Many Hamline-Midway families have liked the center’s atmosphere and the convenience of having a child care center in the neighborhood that they could walk to.
One Facebook post stated, “Let’s keep this gem in our neighborhood.”

The Children’s Center Montessori School was founded in 1971 by John and Elaine Rademacher. Harkins, daughter of John and Elaine, has taught since 1991 and been a director since 2002. The school website notes that “Gretchen has been trained as a teacher since she was six years old and is Montessori certified.”

Other staff members have also taught at Children’s Center for many years. One part-time teacher is an alumnus of the school.

Montessori schools use a child-centered model developed more than a century ago by Dr. Maria Montessori. Teachers undergo special training and schools must meet guidelines to bear the Montessori label.

Children’s Center Montessori limits its enrollment to 30 students per session, and to a 36-month age span. It offers preschool and kindergarten programs on a half-day or full-day basis, and operates during the school year, five days a week except for holidays.

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Moutig in straw

News from Como Park High School

Posted on 10 April 2017 by Calvin

Compiled by ERIC ERICKSON, Social Studies Teacher

• 18 seniors currently studying AP Government and AP Macroeconomics spent a week of March in Washington D.C. The participating students were part of the national Close Up program, which promotes education in democracy and uses the capital as a living classroom. Como student highlights included visiting the national monuments, memorials, the new African American History Smithsonian Museum, the Air and Space Museum, the Supreme Court, Library of Congress, U.S. Capitol, and prominent Washington neighborhoods.

Photo right: Como students participating in the national Close Up program in Washington D.C. met with three U.S. Senators on Capitol Hill to discuss public policy. The Como group is pictured here with Senator Amy Klobuchar. (Photo provided)

The students had policy meetings with Senator Al Franken and Senator Amy Klobuchar on Capitol Hill, and also had an impromptu twenty-minute meeting with Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey. Senator Booker introduced the Como group to the new Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, who Booker was meeting in advance of confirmation hearings.

Throughout the week, Como students were also in policy discussions and simulations with peers from across the nation. The Close Up closing banquet of 120 students featured six student speakers selected by their respective workshop groups, and two of them were from Como; Josie Schermerhorn and William Toney.

• A team of four MJROTC Cadets will fly out to Washington D.C. in late June to participate in the National Leadership and Academic Bowl. It’s the first time in the 21-year history of the MJROTC program at Como that a team of cadets has advanced to the prestigious event. Junior Jacob Kingson, sophomores William Farley and Joseph Newman, and freshman Anderson Xiong earned their trip to nationals after competing against more than 3,600 high school programs across the country.

Photo left: Como MJROTC students Jacob Kingson, William Farley, and Joseph Newman are studying for the National Leadership and Academic Bowl in Washington D.C. in June. (Photo provided)

Preliminary rounds tested students on their knowledge of JROTC curriculum, English, math, and science. The cadets devoted considerable time, energy and focus to gain a diverse body of knowledge that also included the U.S. Constitution, founding documents of U.S. history, physics, leadership theory, and core knowledge associated with the ACT and SAT, said Como’s Senior Marine Instructor Maj. John Foley, USMC (Retired).

“I am most proud of their intense desire to go beyond mastery of facts to an integrated and comprehensive understanding of history, ethics, and leadership,” Foley said. Como Park is one of eight teams to advance to the finals and the only JROTC team from Minnesota that qualified for the national competition.

• Como Park students participated in History Day as part of their study and research in U.S. History classes. History Day involves in-depth research on a topic students choose within the annual theme. The 2017 theme was “Taking a Stand.” Students analyzed primary and secondary sources before choosing a category to present their findings. Categories included website design, exhibit board, documentary, performance, and research paper.

Judges from the Minnesota Historical Society visited Como to evaluate projects and select participants for the St. Paul regional competition. Como winners at the St. Paul Regional included Abdullahi Salim, Jahara Ortiz, Felix Lukens and Juan Morales for their documentary film on the Stonewall Riots. They will represent Como at the State History Day at the U of M on Apr. 29. Peyton Thomas, Than Dah Aye, and Noel Krum wrote research papers that also advanced to state. Anna Caballero and Yeeva Lor received Honorable Mention at the regional competition for their exhibit on the Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court case.

• Economics students from Como won the Urban Regional Econ Challenge at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis on Mar. 14. The event was administered by the Minnesota Council on Economic Education (MCEE) and sponsored by “The Fed.” Teams of students participate in two competitive divisions. The Adam Smith Division is for AP/IB/college level Econ coursework, and the David Ricardo Division is tailored to high school core standards.

The team of Mira Kammueller, Nathan Stover, Divine Uchegbu, and Ben Schafer earned 1st place in the Adam Smith Division and advanced to the State Econ Challenge. The team of Lay Lay Zan, Psaw Paw Kasuh, Tyler Johnson, and John Barton took 1st prize in the David Ricardo Division, also advancing to state.

The format included rounds of individual testing in microeconomics and macroeconomics, followed by a team test on international finance and trade. The teams with the top two overall, combined scores in each division faced off against each other in the final Quiz Bowl round. Como’s victories at that level clinched the Urban Regional titles and qualified the teams for the state meet. In addition to the competition, the students enjoyed breakfast and lunch at the Fed and toured the facility, including the cash vault, with Federal Reserve staff.

• The St. Paul Public School Culinary Competition took place in March. It was an opportunity for talented and motivated students in Family and Consumer Science classes throughout the district to prepare and present a meal to a panel of judges. The Como Park Culinary teams took 1st place and 3rd place in the district.

The 3rd place team of Jillian Brenner, Eloise Rein, Trenton Phillippi and Curtis Persson prepared a tomato mozzarella salad for a starter, beef ravioli (pasta made from scratch) with fresh tomato cream sauce for an entrée, and white chocolate mousse topped with a raspberry sauce for dessert.

The 1st place team of Dina Thoresen, Trinh Nguyen, Ong Vang and Isaac Vue presented a menu of Thai Glass Noodle Salad for a starter, Vegetarian Pho with a side dish of stock boiled vegetables for the entrée, and coconut rice pudding with lemongrass curd for dessert. The creative and talented young chefs of Como enjoyed the experience of cooking alongside other students in St. Paul. All participants took their culinary arts to new levels, impressing the panel of experts in the process.

• Como Girls’ Soccer players spent Saturday morning, Mar. 25, communicating with the Tibetan Women’s Soccer team via a Skype call. The team from Tibet received news coverage from several media outlets after being denied travel visas to the U.S. for a tournament in Dallas they had been invited to attend. Como JV girls’ coach Jen Larrick established contact with the Tibetan coach and scheduled the Skype call. The resulting hour-long cross-cultural exchange was enlightening, informative and fun for both teams.

Como Soccer players from the girls’ and boys’ teams will be leading sessions of soccer fun for children in the community again this summer. The “Soccer Stars” will meet on Tuesday nights at McMurray Field beginning June 20. Ages 4-6 will play from 6-6:45pm, and ages 7-11 from 7-8pm. Registration is open and can be made by calling 651-298-5813.

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