The Green Line has been running for less than three months, but the construction took years and was a challenge for the communities it moved through.

A new exhibition at the Minnesota Museum of American Art – “From There to Here” — takes a closer look at the people affected by the Green Line, and the train itself.

Kassim A. Busuri, Minnesota Da’Wah Institute, 2014  Xavier Tavera

The exhibition consists primarily of the work of three photographers: Xavier Tavera, Katherine Turczan and Wing Young Huie.

Tavera took portraits of business owners along University Avenue, and interviewed them about how things have changed (audio clips are available as part of the exhibition).

Curator Christina Chang says Tavera’s images, and the often vintage interiors he captures, evoke a certain sadness.

“He’s almost memorializing them,” she said, “attempting to hold onto something he sees as fading.”

Chang says she hopes people who come through and see Tavera’s portraits will be compelled to visit the businesses.

“Shops that are culturally specific often have a hard time drawing in people from other cultures;  people don’t feel like they belong there. So hopefully this will help to break that down.”

Line (detail), 2014 Katherine Turczan

Katherine Turczan’s many photographs are meant to be viewed together as a sort of portrait of the Green Line itself. Moving from still shots to blurred glimpses through windows, the viewer has the impression of riding the train from Minneapolis to St. Paul.

“There are people who think light rail is urban blight – that it’s an ugly hulking monstrosity,” said Chang. “Turczan finds beauty in the industrial aspect of this massive steel machine. Some people tune out while riding lightrail, but she tunes in, and gives people the opportunity to experience the ride through her.”

Wing Young Huie’s part of the exhibition includes images from past projects (notably his University Avenue Project), but it also features documentation for a public theater piece he’s working on with theater engagement artist Ashley Hanson and playwright Jessica Huang. Together they’ve been interviewing people about light rail, and are creating a script which will be performed at different light rail stops on October 18.

All combined, Chang says the artists’ work creates a complex picture of what has at times been a polarizing project.

“This goes beyond the polarizing, oversimplified arguments for and against light rail on University Avenue,” said Chang. “It’s much more nuanced. I’d like to think this exhibition can play a mediating role; it’s not just direct confrontation between the powers that be and people who were affected. This is a middle ground where they can meet and explore the issue.”

Son and Ni Dao, Ha Tien BBQ and Deli, 2014 Xavier Tavera

“From There to Here” runs through Oct. 19. That means it will be up when the national transit advocacy conference comes to the Twin Cities in late September.

The Minnesota Museum of American Art has applied for the Knight Foundation’s Green Line Challenge. If it makes it to the final round, the museum plans to take the images out of the gallery and get them onto light rail trains and stations for riders to enjoy.

Seven months after ending a contentious labor dispute and lockout of its musicians, the Minnesota Orchestra has inspired confidence in some major donors.

The orchestra has received four anonymous gifts totaling $13.2 million, including one gift for $10 million.

Osmo Vanska conducting the Minnesota Orchestra in March, 2014
(Photo courtesy Minnesota Orchestra)

The gifts are a “tremendous shot in the arm at a very critical moment,”Interim President and CEO Kevin Smith said.

“What these gifts constitute is a very strong show of support for the direction the organization is going in reconstituting itself, having [Music Director] Osmo Vanska back, and really moving forward as an organization,” he said.

These gifts will fund a “Building for the Future Endowment” as well as artistic initiatives beginning in the 2014-15 season. Smith said the endowment can only be accessed for operational expenses, and only in years in which the orchestra has a balanced budget.

“This orchestra, as with many arts organizations, and many orchestras, still has some challenges ahead,” Smith said. “We have to balance our budget and build our programming — there are all kind of challenges ahead of us — but I’m amazed and encouraged by the resilience this organization has shown in putting itself back together so quickly.”

Despite the 15-month lockout, the Minnesota Orchestra has seen an increase in ticket sales and attendance at Sommerfest concerts, he said.

Chaun Webster, co-owner of Ancestry Books in Minneapolis, has been wrestling with the shooting of Michael Brown, the ongoing upheaval in Ferguson, Missouri, and the history of violence on black and brown people in the United States.

Here’s the result of his struggle.


towards a cartography of Black Rage

i’ve been trying to draw a map this morning,
to chart the distance between
Black rage                                 and                                                dead Black bodies.
so far i’ve been outlining our ontology-
tracing round the landmass of Renisha, Aiyana, Eric, Michael-
the names become too many, the landmass too large.
i’ve been attempting to chart the scale of this rage,
to know its dimensions. i close my eyes to do a field measurement,
feel the acid building in my mouth.


fists tighten


wonder where this might take me now-
i give in to the logic of the   JUJU

                                                                       as in: collective memory

embrace the time machine of my body
and hold counsel with
George Jackson Nat Turner Touissant Louverture


hands still tightening
feel like root workers hands – executing their magic now.
i continue to tracing my steps
and the distance between
these bodies                 and         this rage
closer than i thought it was-
momentarily open my eyes now


find myself in a ghost story
i mean america
no i mean a ghost story.
america is a ghost story
and its tucked just beneath our skin
boiling in our blood.
no need to map the distance between
this rage and this body


all we need do is momentarily open our eyes
embrace the witness in our blood
hold a stubborn course,
the dead, the living and the unborn
circling round as we pronounce
the circumference, and the texture, and the depth
of the world we are no longer content to live without.

©Chaun Webster August 21, 2014

Reprinted with the permission of the author.