• DATE: Thu. Aug. 13, 2015
  • TIME: 8:00 am

Portfolio progression + collaborative exercises + individual development through technical drawing skills.

A youth artist’s first venture into the world of JXTA begins with the Visual Art Literacy Training course, also known as VALT. Participants develop the technical drawing skills necessary to be hired and succeed as apprentices in a JXTALab or Studio.

News // August 10, 2015

hawwa4Co-instructor for Visual Art Literacy Training (VALT) Hawwa Youngmark, started with JXTA in the winter of 2013. After a year in the Contemporary and Public Art Studio, she was asked by lead instructor Drew Peterson to co-teach the JXTA introductory program. As the curator for the upcoming ARCHIVE exhibition on August 13, Hawwa takes a moment to describe why still life and self-portraits are important techniques in observational drawing and in art appreciation, how it brings out creative personalities, and why she loves teaching now. 

On still life as a path to self-portraiture

Self-portraits are our favorite assignment in the VALT program. From the start of each session, most of the young people that come into VALT want to learn how to draw realism in terms of the human figure and face. When we build up to self-portraiture, we cover all the basics first, including the fundamentals of how to draw observationally. Still life exercises teach them how to observe line, value and composition. All of those are key components to creating a portrait. The VALTers become really excited at this point in our curriculum. This can be a challenge for them, yet they push through this task and what they produce always turn out great.

On highlighting your identity

Creating a self-portrait isn’t just showing what you look like physically – you could easily take a photograph of yourself if you want to accomplish that. Instead, a self-portrait is a window into who you are. With that in mind, when you’re looking at your blank page, its important to identify and highlight what you want people to see about you, because that’s what is going to show up on paper.

Five things to keep in mind when you draw yourself

  1. hawwafilmroll3Know your intention of how you want to display yourself to the world. Preferably, all portraits are better done with a mirror because you are interacting with yourself live, instead of through photography which is a pre-made barrier.
  2. Add something unique to yourself or your setting that you’ll enjoy drawing.
  3. Be patient with your work. Don’t be afraid to go back and redo a particular element or area of your face.
  4. Be extremely observant. You should get into the habit of measuring everything by marking a feature.
  5. Be observational and critical, but don’t worry if what you draw doesn’t look exactly like you – there’s always stylized self-portraits that go outside of realism.

On appreciating art & culture through the experience of self-portraiture

Self-portraits are also a way to observe and understand all types of art. As VALTers learn, these drawings are so detailed and call for so much attention. That attention makes you appreciate other people’s art. If I could take any class, it’d be an art class about portraiture, specifically an art history class studying different portraiture forms of different geographies. In Morocco for example, I learned of a tradition where when someone passes, they’ll paint a likeness of them on a plank of wood. It is hung in the home where people can view it and a way to keep their spirit around. And that’s a form of portraiture. Overall, I get excited about the history and contemporary forms of portraits in general.

On ARCHIVE: The VALT legacy exhibition

The first day of VALT in the spring, day before, we had to organize all the work so that we could show samples to the class. I was blown away by such good work we had, specifically self-portraits and still life drawings. I started setting aside a pile of ones that I would put in a show. Then I thought, “why not actually have a show?” Its an exhibition to show off hidden VALT. My favorite thing about teaching is watching the participants create work that is so phenomenal. It is above and beyond average. So we’re putting the work and craft of our current students including alumni, in our formal gallery, which I find heightens the importance of the work.

Make plans to attend this exhibit at our Emerson Gallery, on Thursday, August 13, 2015, from 5:30pm-8pm. RSVP on Facebook.

News // July 31, 2015

The energy that emanates from FLOW seems to get greater each year that it takes place on and near West Broadway in North Minneapolis.

The annual art crawl originally started out as a small but burgeoning showcase of Northside creatives, initiated by the Northside Achievement Zone. Now 10 years later and tipping the scale at over 200 featured visual and performing artists this summer, FLOW continues to grow in community attendance and participation since its 2006 debut. As an homage to the 10 year anniversary of FLOW, we’re sharing ten highlights from the 3-days of dynamic artistic exchange and community engagement, including some of the special moments from JXTA.

/ 1 Traditional Hmong performance art

Iny Asian Dance Theater's "Longing for Qeej."

The Koom Siab Block Party, presented by Asian Media Access, showcased Iny Asian Dance Theater‘s dance drama “Longing for Qeej.” On Plymouth Ave, the street became the stage for bright flashes of public contemporary dance and Hip-Hop performances. Neighbors and residents got a front row seat to waves of music and dance outside the doors of their home.

/ 2 JXTA VALT studio’s make-your-own masterpiece workshop


Visitors to the VALT studio participated in a hands-on drawing lesson centered on two foundational drawing techniques all VALTers learn. Instructors Drew and Hawwa conducted the workshop in 1108 space for charcoal self-portrait drawings and Notan paper cut-outs, engaging resident artists from all spectrums and levels.

/ 3 Ice cream cones with rainbow sprinkles 


Hands down, Emerge provided the best way to cool down on Emerson avenue, with youth employees scooping out ice cream cones and cups for $1 a pop. The non-profit continues to amp up their efforts to support youth and adults seeking employment – in 2014, 120 young people were placed in jobs.

/ 4 Northside artists show and tell 

Kayla Baribeau

Artist Kayla Baribeau.


The space at Homewood Studios was opened up by director George Roberts in an effort to host a conversation between the FLOW postcard artists. The circle formed by the artists and community members heard the artists’ feedback on how their artistic philosophy has been shaped and continues to shift based on their surroundings, experiences and passion.

/ 5 Barbershop art


We usually connotate the barbershop as being that focal point where men can spark up animated conversations and catch up on the latest news in the community while getting a line-up. What was cool to learn and see about World Class Barbers on Broadway Avenue is that it is woman-owned and featured local artists with work that showcased Black beauty in all of it’s glorious, dual-gendered, multi-facetedness. Plus, we felt right at home swiveling in those seats.

/ 6 Speaking up on equity in the Twin Cities

Photo courtesy of D.A. Bullock.

As participants of the Creative CityMaking: New Artist-City Collaborations, artists D.A. Bullock and Ariah Fine (pictured far right) brought out a podium, recorder and set the camera to record. They asked passersby to speak their mind on issues related to equity and policy in the Twin Cities – issues that affect each individual personally and on a community level. The voices highlighted will feed into the artists’ contribution to the larger work and strategy around the Blueprint for Equitable Engagement project.

/ 7 Pop-up boutiques with photos and musical vibes


We didn’t catch the fashion show, but we did grab some great deals on cute dresses and scarves from the Romantic Bohemian at the NEON pop-up boutique. Their newly acquired space, previously the Hennepin County West Broadway office, was set up for independent sellers, craftsmen and women, and designers for all things fashion and beauty.

/ 8 On the spot screen-printed take-home posters from the Welukea Group artist collective

2015flow2“The Welukea Group does not exclusively aim to draw attention to the vacant and unused spaces along the Broadway business district in North Minneapolis, but additively aspires to interrupt the predetermined narratives that currently surround these spaces.” Enough said, but we’ll add that the JXTA Public Art Studio’s newest exhibit made waves by inspiring critical thought and discourse on social dynamics and taboo topics through photography, artifact and aerosol composition.

 / 9 Ballet plies and Contemporary dance mash-upping


The newly updated Les Jolies Petites School of Dance made real the phrase, “dance is life.” The studio teemed with young people, parents and friends who took part in group dance and basic ballet demos. Directors Danyale Potts and Dr. Sharon Cook bring to their practice, their experience ranging from training in ballet, modern and African dance, plus instruction from the world-renowned Alivin Ailey American Dance Theater. Their goal? That “people from all walks of life would be blessed by what they see, feel and hear.”

/ 10 Elder Naima Richmond


If you haven’t met Naima yet, you’re going to need to – and soon. Set up in the Plymouth Ave Art Studio for the art crawl, poet, author, writer and resident, Richmond’s array of children books and illustrations are as sincere and bright as her smile and aura. Her favorite work, “Beautiful Brown Snowlady,” is a book that you should add to your library. Why? According to Richmond, “Because everyone needs to read the book about the first and only brown snowlady.” Simple, plain and real.

Find more images of the FLOW on our Facebook page, and more press-related links at City Pages, the Star Tribune, & Minnesota Public Radio News

  • DATE: Thu. Jul. 30, 2015
  • TIME: 9:00 am

Session #1: July 14 – July 30, 2015 Tuesdays, Wednesdays & Thursdays from 9am-12pm.


  • DATE: Sat. Jul. 25, 2015
  • TIME: 1:00 pm

The JXTA campus will be buzzing on Saturday, July 25th from 1-7pm.


Activity: The newest collaborative lab at JXTA, Tactical Urbanism, will be featuring transit engagement activities in the Saint Satoko Pocket Park. Get interactive with the popular James Rojas workshop, grab a transit Zine, and play in a life-sized transit-themed game that will serve as a fun way to give your input on West Broadway public transit.

Textile & Screen Printing #JXTATEXTILES (Store hours for FLOW: Friday, 7/24 @ 3-7pm and Saturday 7/25 @ 1-7pm).

Activity: Check out our now open storefront, designed & remodeled by Nate Young, Stephen Young, Lindsay Splichal and JXTA apprentices!

Bring your own shirt for a $5 print or $25 for pre-printed gear. Other products available for sale are canvas and nylon drawstring tote bags, #BlackLivesMatter apparel, Northside and Midwest t-shirt designs, plus our new summer t-shirt line.

Contemporary Art Studio #JXTAcpArt

Activity: The summer Public Art artist collective will present their latest works as an exhibition with 3d and multimedia work in the JXTA gallery. Come explore the ideas and themes behind their mission through sound, visuals and conversation.

Graphics Lab #JXTAGraphics

Activity: Button-making time is happening in 1108! Also check out their latest portfolio and get an interactive tour of where the magic happens.

Enviro Design Studio #JXTAEnviro

Activity: Come and see! Enviro Design’s new space, Community Design Studio and Fabrication Lab, will have a soft opening. The lab will also engage in a share-back on their recent work for the developing Northside Greenway work + and showcase different designs and completed Enviro projects in their new learning space.


Activity: Get a hands-on experience of two foundational drawing techniques all VALTers learn. Instructors Drew and Hawwa will conduct a workshop in 1108 space for charcoal gesture drawings and Notan paper cut-outs.

  • DATE: Thu. Jul. 23, 2015
  • TIME: 5:00 pm
  • LOCATION: Homewood Studios
Canaan Ray-Strong 2

Aerosol on wood panel, by Canaan Ray-Strong.

Join us at Homewood Studios for conversation and celebration of Northside artists and creativity on the 10th Anniversary of FLOW: Northside Art Crawl. RSVP on Facebook. 

Beginning at 5pm, the ten FLOW postcard artists will be the featured guests for an artists’ talk focused on the question, “What does it mean to be an artist working, intentionally working, in a community, in our community of North Minneapolis?”

JXTA Contemporary Art Studio apprentices Kayla Baribeau and Canaan Ray-Armstrong along with other Northside artists, will talk on the panel for approximately 60-90 minutes.

Other activities happening that evening on Plymouth Ave include cultural dancing and music at Asian Media Access, a street party between Russell and Sheridan Avenues, examples of work by artists living in the new Art Space Artists Homes on Plymouth, and the gallery show at Homewood Studios – RE: Action ~ Gathering Momentum, a group show by thirteen women artists from the Twin Cities.

  • DATE: Tue. Jul. 14, 2015
  • TIME: 9:00 am

Session #2: July 14 – July 30, 2015 Tuesdays, Wednesdays & Thursdays from 9am-12pm.

News // July 13, 2015

Construction is currently underway for JXTA’s new Community Design Studio and Fabrication Lab. fablabconstructionoutside copy

Sited on the intersection of West Broadway and Emerson in North Minneapolis, the 1102 space formerly functioned as the offices of the former owners Jim Ronning and Ed Gearty, as well as a woodwork shop for client and in-house projects.  The building renovation was made possible by grants from ArtPlace America and West Broadway Area Coalition. When complete the building will house our Environmental Design Studio and fabrication space where apprentices will work with adult designers and organizers on projects that make public spaces more beautiful, functional, and accessible.

Enviro Design Studio instructor Sam Ero-Phillips served as the lead designer for the 1102 renovation. North Minneapolis-based firm Mobilize Design & Architecture served as the architect of record for this project, and Sam was given the opportunity to use the hours on the project to put towards his hours needed to complete his goal of becoming a registered architect in the state of Minnesota.

Sam explains, “When I first started teaching in the Enviro Lab in 2012 we moved around the campus. There was no permanent space where we could spread out and make work.” Because of the program’s expansion and a growing number of both youth employed through the studio and the demand from clients, Sam’s main concerns included providing seating for up to 12 people and a space to work collaboratively and an area for displaying drawings and blueprints and more.


Future home of the Enviro Design Studio work and learning space.


Additionally, the redesigned 1102 building will be a space for JXTA’s newest collaborative lab, Tactical Urbanism, and also house the Fabrication Lab, an area portioned out for the improved and more functional wood shop. Under the guidance of instructors, apprentices will learn how to produce test models and final products for both lab assignments and client work.

“Two cool things about this project are that there are two labs in one space and it’s a design and build firm run and powered by youth that serves the needs of the community.” Sam says in regards to the community aspects of the renovation project. “We’ve been around for a while and with this project, we’re adding visibility and availability to the neighborhood at large here. Being on the ground floor allows us street presence. As people are walking by or waiting for the bus, they can look in and see our work on the wall and see apprentices working. I think that is going to increase our ability to market and provide our design services for people in the community by being this visible. We want you to come walk in and engage with us. We’re providing accessibility to design.”

The renovation began in February of 2015 and is expected to be completed by mid-July/early August. Come for the soft opening of it at the 2015 FLOW on Saturday, July 25th.

News // July 12, 2015

Imagine building your dream neighborhood or the city you’ve always wanted to live in. What buildings would you create? What would they look like?


“Inspiration comes from things you want to do, what you like to see and what you want to be around,” says Johnneta. From l-r: Dara, Johnneta and Alaja.

That premise was the fuel behind Niko Kubota’s winning project for the 2015 Creative City Challengemini_polis. Dreams and designs were collected and created from neighborhoods around Minneapolis, and the JXTA Environmental Design Studio was commissioned to rep North Minneapolis.

Dara Crawford, Alaja Harris and Johnneta Hughes were among the 12 apprentices assigned different areas of Northside to re-imagine, redesign & recreate, with the guidance of Enviro Studio instructors Sam and Coal. After hand drawing for approximately two weeks, they created scaled models then employed Sketch Up to use exact measurements for the final fabrication. Using a single word to describe the two month design process and Johnneta laughs and starts with the adjective ‘hectic.’

“We all designed our own buildings,” Dara says. “Mine had a restaurant and a movie theater at the bottom. The top part was housing, and I had outdoor seating and stuff like that.”

“And if we didn’t design our own building, we got buildings to redesign for North Minneapolis,” Alaja chimed in. “I did Cub Foods.” She and Johnneta worked together to create a new and improved version of the grocery building, adding unique elements like day-lighting and a sunroof to allow natural light to open up the space. “In Cub, we noticed that there are no windows on the sides or the front doors,” Johnneta explains. (Dara interjects with, “It’s like a big warehouse”). “With our redesign,” Johnnetta continues, “there’s more natural lighting and more windows, so you can see what’s going on outside. There’s a better seating area too.”

“I do like light,” Alaja adds as she describes the personal inspiration she used for the project. “My room is the lightest in my house.”

For Dara, the overarching feature of her design for mini_polis was combining living and recreational activities that made sense when they came together. “I think a unique aspect of mine is how it is mixed-use. My building has an atrium and a courtyard. It has a bunch of stuff and outdoor seating. And my roof is tight too.”


mini_polis launch at the 2015 Northern Spark festival at the Minneapolis Convention Center lawn. Official photo from mini_polis (2015).

mini_polis project manager Niko approached JXTA after becoming more and more interested in working with the Enviro Studio. He would catch glimpses of the campus’ aesthetic while working nearby on West Broadway. “I was really intrigued by all the work going on physically at JXTA – a really exciting collage of color, design, and narrative.” The SocialSculpture team, a conglomeration of artists and Niko himself, hosted community building workshops with schools and non-profits around the city for neighbors to engage in building and making. The final designs of the city debuted at this year’s Northern Spark festival, installed in the front yard of the Minneapolis Convention Center.

As a synergistic whole, the three apprentices agreed that mini_polis was both a unique idea and an important installation to create. Dara started by making the observation that not many people could have come up with a project like this: “I liked the whole thought process and the idea to create a miniature Minneapolis, inside of Minneapolis. I also liked how it’s not just one person working on this but other groups of people too.”

The input factor too, of having a say in how your neighborhood looks and the amenities provided in it, resonated with Alaja and Johnneta.

Alaja: “I felt like I had a voice when I was working on this project.”

Johnneta: “You felt like you were being heard?”

Alaja: “Yeah. Because I’m pretty sure we weren’t the only ones that feel like Cub is just a box. So I feel like we’re putting in input from everybody.”

Johnneta: “I think [this project] taps into everybody’s inner creativity, for them to see what they want their neighborhood to be like. It makes you think about the community in the future. About how you can help change it, and make change happen. Make it happen.”


mini_polis will be up through October 2015 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Make sure to visit it. And find more information about the installation on the official website.

  • DATE: Fri. Jul. 10, 2015
  • TIME: 9:00 am

Session #1: June 16 – July 10, 2015, meets Tuesdays, Wednesdays & Thursdays from 9am-12pm.

*Holiday break starts on June 29 – July 3, 2015.