For over two decades Juxtaposition Arts has mentored North Minneapolis youth artists with the help of industry professionals to foster creativity in the next generation of artists.
1995 - 1996
In the Beginning
JXTA was founded in 1995 because nothing like it existed. Our founders, Roger and DeAnna Cummings and Peyton Russell, knew from lived experience that talented young people often felt disengaged and dismissed by traditional educational institutions. There was no place in North Minneapolis – or Minnesota – for historically underestimated youth to build their future through visual art and design. Our work started out as after school programs offered in the Sumner-Glenwood neighborhood and in the founders’ studio space. The arts – then and now – offer an unparalleled way for young people to ‘learn by doing’ and to channel their creative energy into profitable, marketable, transferable life skills.
Building the Foundation
JXTA’s original programming combined the foundational skills training of our Visual Art Literacy Training (VALT) program and the studio focus of our Contemporary Art Lab. Under the mentorship of established and successful artists, our students learned the practice of art and design as a valuable tool for problem solving and a viable means to make a living. Summers were spent painting murals and studying with mentors. JXTA became one of the only art organizations in the Midwest bringing in prominent aerosol artists to the Upper Midwest, such as Lady Pink, TATS CRU, Kase 2, and Smash 137.
Placemaking on Emerson and West Broadway
In the early 2000s, JXTA’s founders decided to commit to their vision for the organization and their community, which meant that the work needed a brick and mortar home. In 2004, with the support and leadership of its Board of Directors, JXTA purchased three buildings on one of the busiest intersections in North Minneapolis: Emerson Avenue North and West Broadway Avenue. When JXTA moved in, there were vacant properties immediately adjacent to the North, South and West. Since then, an estimated $90 million has been invested in buildings near JXTA’s campus and along the West Broadway corridor.
Once the Emerson building had been redeveloped, JXTA and its collaborators wasted no time pushing the boundaries of what visual art and urban design could do for communities. Satoko Muratake led the early iterations of our REMIX program, a collaboration with the UMN College of Design and Department of Landscape Architecture. JXTA participated in the creation of the West Broadway Alive! Small Area Plan and designed and installed a sculpture for the intersection of Washington Ave and West Broadway, creating a place for sitting and spectacle. Additionally, we offered school residencies with a roster of teaching artists in the Twin Cities metro area.
Make Art. Get Paid.
After more than 10 years in this work, we noticed that students were leaving JXTA programming because they needed to work after-school jobs. In response, we added what is now a core element to our program model: the JXTALabs youth employment program. After a period of strategic learning and planning, we partnered with Achieve’s STEP-UP program to pilot JXTALabs in 2010, which included initial iterations of our Public Art and Textiles and Screen Printing Labs. It employed youth as apprentices, working alongside practicing artists and designers as students and mentees. VALT became the entry point to these apprenticeships.
In 2012, we expanded to our 1108 West Broadway building with support from the McKnight Foundation. The expansion allowed more youth to participate in our programming and more adult artists to have workspace. In less than a year, 75% of our studio space was leased and more than 1,500 community members participated in classes, artist talks, celebrations, rehearsals, performances, and meetings.
In 2013, we partnered with the University of Minnesota’s Department of Landscape Architecture to develop a qualitative research project to better understand the needs of young people as they prepared to age out of our programs. Using what we learned, we piloted our Pathways to College and Careers (PaCC) program in 2014, which offers mentorship, travel, and cohort learning opportunities to JXTA apprentices. PaCC seeks to ensure that all youth leave JXTA equipped to leverage the relationships, experiences, and skills they’ve developed with us to propel themselves toward successful endeavors.
By 2015, the number of young people engaged in the range of JXTA’s programming had grown exponentially. We had fully incorporated the Contemporary Art, Graphic Design, Environmental Design, and Tactical Labs into our employment offerings. This expansion in our programming allowed more youth to participate in our work, equipped more adult artists with workspace, and enabled us to take on many more client jobs than ever before.
Due to the exponential growth of our programs, JXTA began to build up our organizational capacity by increasing staff and board numbers, building our donor base, and strengthening and clarifying the business model. We worked diligently to address our internal goals by diversifying our revenue and expanding our clientele and gaining national partners.
Looking to the future.
In May 2018, JXTA launched our largest undertaking ever – a four-year, $14 million capital campaign to invest in the creative futures of youth in North Minneapolis, in our campus, and in JXTA’s legacy as a cultural institution. This will create a stronger creative and economic ecosystem for our region by nurturing community legacy and assets for future generations.
By 2023, over 100 youth will be engaged in JXTA’s exceptional visual arts education and training programs, and more than 150 youth and artists will be employed annually in training programs and social enterprise studios. In the neighborhood with the highest concentration of youth in Minnesota and the highest rate of poverty and unemployment, young people will be preparing for success in the area’s robust creative industries.
Built on the corner of Emerson and West Broadway, this new building will ensure continued access to arts education and employment for generations to come. JXTA will update its current footprint into a vibrant, 21st-century arts complex. The buildings that make up the current site will be transformed and unified into a 27,000-square foot campus with dedicated learning and production studios, including screen printing, graphic and environmental design, and painting and drawing, along with a public gallery where program participants can display and sell their work. The new campus will also include studios for artists, retail space for long-term lease, meeting rooms, and indoor and outdoor event space for JXTA and community use.
Future generations shouldn’t have to create this work from scratch. Let them take what’s started at JXTA and accelerate it. To learn more about our capital campaign, become involved, or to donate, click the link below.