Saturday, October 11, 2008

Lack of Content

There hasn't been a whole lot of content on the old Minneapolis Street Art Observer. Reasons: I have recently moved across the country. But: I will be heading back to Minneapolis to continue the project with some frequency.

What that means: The updates are going to be less frequent than they have been, but the project will continue.

What else: I'm going to start a new, and somewhat similar, project. is going to launch shortly and will, as the title indicates, be updated daily.

Monday, September 15, 2008

InDigest Issue 7

Issue 7 of InDigest is now up. Thanks for your patience on this one, folks. As some of you may know, Dustin has recently moved to New York, so it's been a new adventure getting this issue together with half a country between us. Among other things this move prompted us to do our first Letter From the Editors.

What else you'll find in this issue:

Crows and the poltical machines of the world are satirized and recontextualized in a series of paintings by Pamela Kirton. HERE>>>

Flash Fiction from Brandon-Scott Gorrell.
The other men in black suits and sunglasses began running around in small circles and shooting at Alex with Uzis. Alex shot them and killed them. Alex said something to Keith about how good he was with the sniper rifle.

The hardest working woman in music, Holly Munoz, sits down with Ellen Frazel to talk about running Draw Fire Records, plotting cross-country bio-diesel tours, and recording a new album with her band Aviette.

Reverend Billy talks to Dustin about consumerism run amok in the U.S. Reverend Billy and his Church of Stop Shopping Gospel Choir have been singing and screaming the perils of over-spending, global warming, and frivolous globalization for over a decade.

On the heels of the Republican National Convention, I offer my thoughts about rappers Atmosphere, Mos Def, and The Pharcyde not speaking up enough at a concert that took place right next to where the Republicans were congregating. There are fewer than two months until we vote for the next President (and VP) and all opportunities have to be taken advantage of.

Hope you enjoy. Thanks for continuing to support this thing, InDigest.

David Luke Doody & Dustin Luke Nelson

Monday, September 8, 2008

Uptown Street Art in the Waning Days of Summer

The kind of stencil where a little wear and tear makes it look so much better. It looks like it was meant to be this way.

So gritty and much better for it.

Nice reinvention of a familiar face.

Pretty rad sticker.

Both of these guys are next to each other on Nicolet.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Help Save Cinema Revolution

For readers in the Minneapolis area:

If you are like me, you enjoy a good cup of coffee, a nice tumbler of whiskey, rain storms, and movies. Particularly movies that are not going to be found at your local Blockbuster. Also you probably enjoy all of these things at locally run businesses (damn those FOXNEWS sponsored thunderstorms...).

This isn't just a random rant about something that pissed me off so stick with me here.

I frequented Cinema Revolution for many years (it's actually just off to the side of many of the pictures on this site), it's easily one of the best video stores (if not the best) in Minneapolis/St. Paul, and they are in trouble. The store is having some financial difficulties and I thought I'd throw something up in hopes that you value what John and Cinema Revolution do for the community as much as I do. The store is run by volunteers who support film screenings around town, host cinema discussion evenings, allow you to rent local filmmakers (often for free) and have a selection that no one else in town can compare to. So here's a little bit of an e-mail John Koch (owner) sent out to some today, about why Cinema Revolution is important:

We believe that a local store run by live local people is something of value - a store that curates film as a gallery would curate any other form of art, a store that actively promotes film in the community, a store with a real, tangible personality. Cinema Revolution creates an artistic context for your DVD rental experience; we help guide you through innumerable choices, and celebrate films that otherwise are marginalized or ignored. We are active in the community as well. Through the nearly five years of our existence, we have shot a feature film using all local talent, we have held dozens of film screenings through Cinema des Artistes and our Film Society, commissioned new original short films from local artists, held weekly live film discussion groups, started a local record label, and have helped actively promote countless festivals, performances and screenings by local producers. It is a major part of our mission to connect, support and inspire our local artistic community. If you value what we do for the community, we ask you to please help us continue in these endeavors.

So, if you can donate a little bit to help them out, if you can't do that, make an effort to rent some films from there, go to a screening hosted by Cinema Revolution, or participate in one of their weekly film discussions.

Here are the details sent out about how you can help out:

We are seeking to raise $5,000 by September 15th to help make our move to a new location a reality, as it cannot be done without this additional support. The suggested donation is $20 (and if 250 people can do this, we will make our goal), but please feel free to give at any level you can afford. With your collective help we can make this happen.

We are also seeking volunteers to help in this fundraising effort. If you are interested in helping out, contact We are also open to any suggestions or advice anyone may have to help us along.

In just the past two years we have lost legendary video stores Discount Video and Box Office Video. We have seen the Oak Street and Bell Auditorium film programs vanish, we have watched the entire film editorial staff at the City Pages lose their jobs, and Hollywood fare is now seeping into our beloved Lagoon Cinema. Please help keep an active, inspiring film culture alive in the Twin Cities and donate securely via PayPal today at (Click on the link below).

Please note that if for any reason we do not achieve our financial goal, your generous donations will be refunded directly through PayPal. If we should raise more than our goal, the extra money will be applied to growing our movie collection to help fill our new space. Also be aware that we are not organized as a non-profit organization for tax purposes, so your donation is not tax deductible.

That's all I've got, it's well worth a little bit of your time or money to help keep filmmaking in the city alive. Adios.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

I am Robin Gunningham

There has been a lot of talk flying around message boards, blogs, and even reputable papers and magazines like Time and The Guardian about the potential unmasking of Banksy. For those who are somehow unfamiliar with one of the most influential artists alive, Banksy is a street artist whose whole persona has relied on the fact that no one knows who Banksy is. He started has a regular tagger in London, and has evolved into an international criminal and hero. Creating a Guantanamo prisoner blow up at Disneyland, tagging the walls of the West Bank, recreating works like the Mona Lisa and sneaking them into the Louvre, tagging the front steps of the Tate Modern with a "Mind the Crap" stencil. Banksy has helped to legitimize street art, bringing it into galleries, both undercover and legitimately.

All the while, through books on his work, huge installations and international fame, the mystery of Banksy has remained much like the mystery of Batman. People have searched - especially the law - and no one has been certain who Banksy is.

Recently a 2004 photo in Jamaica and some research done by a UK paper have revealed that Banksy might possibly be Robin Gunningham. That facts are that the 2004 photo shows Robin Gunningham crouched over a Banksy stencil holding a can of spray paint. It was revealed through research that Gunningham was a middle class art student in the UK with an interest in street art. Interviews with former friends and roommates have revealed that he was a good artist in many mediums and that, at that point, he was not spraying, and was not Banksy. Representatives of Banksy (do they know who he is?) are saying that the man in the photo is not, in fact, Banksy.

So the debate has raged online. Many say the photo has existed for years and that the papers are just trying to stir up a little bit of controversy. Others are claiming that it has taken this long to put together the facts and truly figure out who Robin Gunningham is.

I think the real question here is why are we trying to unmask one of the greatest artists of our time? Surely many law enforcement agencies would like to have him unmasked and prosecuted, but does the press really want to be to blame for that? If there is any follow through here, and they can prove Gunningham is Banksy, what are the real implications of that?

There is certainly an "I am Spartacus" sort of reaction going on around the globe right now. No one wants to see him unmasked, as curious as we all are. But there is certainly the potential that many "Banksy's" have been done by other artists, as the potential for being a copycat of an unknown person is there. Printing of "I am Robin Gunningham" shirts have already begun, and the backlash towards the people ripping the mask off of a hero.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Mystery Science Theater of the Mind

This is probably my new favorite stencil. How awesome.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Uptown Update Update

So, Jay Gabler over at TC Daily Planet informed me that the raccoon at the gas station is actually the logo of the Urban Bean coffee shop in Uptown. That's so gangster.

Uptown Update

You've been warned.

This is a fantastic stencil.

This sticker is like a fine wine, it got better with age.

I feel like this sticker must be a logo for something, but I have no idea what (let me know if you know). But this is somewhat sad, I found this on a gas pump at the SA on Lyndale and 22nd, but fuck it. I thought it was well placed, and I like it.

I wonder if this was done by the owner of the garage. A lot of passion here. (ho)

So, these have been around forever, and there are a ton of them along 94, but I've always really enjoyed these paint spills down the barriers along 94 in Minneapolis. So, instead of putting out the effort and taking "good" photos of these I took a picture out of a moving car...

So this isn't really street art, or maybe it is, but I didn't actually touch this, I found this little fella sitting outside my front door one morning.

Till next time.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

InDigest Issue Six

Issue 6 has arrived, finally, and it's a grand one. We've got all sorts of new content up. New poetry from Canadian poet Ryan Bird. New in the narratives section is an excerpt from Frederick Lane's new book The Court & the Cross. The book focuses on the influence of the religious right in American politics and the often-tenuous relationship that has developed between organized religion in America and the legal system.

Donald Van Auken presents a series of paintings focusing on an imaginary circus full of odd dark characters.

In Erratica there are is a new column from Ashleigh Lambert and Bedside Stacks, reviewing the new novel from Tom McCarthy Remainder, and the newest Susanna Moore novel The Big Girls. The new Is That Cowardly? takes a look at the new collection from poet Dorthea Lasky titled Awe. Also in Erratica is a piece but occasional contributor Charles Greene covering the global celebration of James Joyce's Ulysses called Bloomsday.

Keep checking back as there will be more updates this month, a new column, some interviews and some new music from some of our favorite artists.

As always, thanks for reading.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

New Art


This is a really simple, but clean, well-placed stencil. It fits into the framework with fluidity.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Twin Cities Daily Planet

The MPLS street art observer is partnering with Twin Cities Daily Planet. As a part of their new arts blog they are partnering with MPLS based arts sites that will help provide content. So this is just a notice I guess, I've got new stuff that will be up soon (as soon as I'm not so busy every moment of every day). So look for it. Otherwise go check out the new arts blog at

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

issue 5 like what

Issue 5 of InDigest is up and online. So listen up best of the net. Maybe the first four weren't good enough for your hotsy totsy awards, but, oh, is Issue 5 something special. In the new issue we've got a gallery of sculpture from Alonso Sierralta, new poetry from Meggie Elder, and new fiction from New Yorkian Meakin Armstrong. We've added a new column called Is That Cowardly? where Jess Grover takes a look at new poetry. Also there are new columns from Bedside Stacks and Dorkolopogous.

Our big news, aside from the new issue, is we went clothes shopping and now we've got a whole new look. And damn we look good. Look at us.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Vandalism as art

So I'm in the process of getting a new post up of the neighborhood, but the day after I started we had a 17 hour blizzard that I didn't have the urge to go out in. Anyhow this is one of the new pieces I found and I thought it was interesting. It's a rather small stencil, but I think the label "Vandalism as Art" is an interesting statement.

I use the label "Street Art" often (it's in the name of the blog too), but this is something of a misnomer. The label street art is attractive because a lot of what is considered vandalism is art. There are some very talented artists roaming the alleys of the city, yet there are probably even more people doing this who are not artists, and there tags are for the sole purpose of vandalism. Street art is a difficult label, it implies that all of the tags, stickers, and markers on bus stops and news stands are art. Furthermore it's more expansive than it appears on the surface. I think by this label much more than just graffiti, stencils and pastes can be considered street art. The common argue for the rights of street art is that it beautifies the city in a way that is somewhat intangible, it allows artists to use the city and speak to it, and it's much more attractive than the billboards and advertisements that we allow to take up the same space in our city. But if street art is the appropriate label then it would be anything that beautifies the city and exemplifies a sort of artistic craftsmanship. By this definition I think my neighbors garden is street art, it's an odd overgrown garden that extends out onto the boulevard, but it has a great aesthetic, one that you would hard pressed to find in any other garden.

Another common label is vandalism. This is problematic for many reasons, though some street artists do like this label. But it negates the aesthetic powers of graffiti. Clearly. There are other issues with this, but I think the are self-evident, this is the label that people who do not like street art use.

But the phrase "Vandalism as art," though somewhat bulky for practical application is a great phrase. It acknowledges the vandalism aspects of the art form. Which are completely true and relevant. In Minneapolis any building that gets tagged is noted by the city and the owner of the building has three days to sign a waiver that states that it can and will be removed or the city removes it and fines the building owner. This is vandalism, no doubt. But the phrase "Vandalism as Art" acknowledges that, and further acknowledges that it is art (obviously). the interesting aspect of this phrase is the juxtaposition of these two sentiments. It shows the colliding of POVs, and seems to define it while simultaneously stating that the problem with the labels people have for this art are not in the art itself but in the government (or other minor governing body's) inability to classify it. That those who appreciate it's presence don't have the issue of labeling it, it is what it is, but that there is a stigma surrounding the art-form that makes it near impossible for there to be a classification that suits everyone, and points to a greater inability to have an open discussion at a governmental level between citizens, artists, and the government (I guess more pointed the law). It is more eloquent than my description here. But an interesting piece. Anyhow, a full post is pending.

Friday, February 29, 2008

New York, New York

A pretty impressive work that has clearly been up for a while. I'm standing in the middle of the street to give you an idea how far back I am from this piece. It was really quite large, probably about nine or ten feet tall, six or seven across.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Primaries - right now.

For all US readers I have to put in a short plug for the primaries/caucuses tonight. Get out and vote tonight. I hope lots of you are voting for Obama (like I am) but it doesn't matter go vote, it's a close race in a primary for the first time in a long while. I know "change" is the key buzz word this year, but really, it's time for a new America that cares about the middle class and the rest f the world. No more policing the world. No more trickle down economics, so that the majority of people are left with the blunt end of recession. That's all, no trying to persuade anyone, just go vote.

Vote Obama. Or just vote. But vote Obama

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

What is this?

So I've been a little slow posting another dispatch from uptown, but I'm almost there. I'm going to be in NYC for a week so it'll be a couple weeks before the next is posted, but there will be some periodic updates from New York. Until then I found this stencil near Callhoun Square in uptown, a little outside of my normal area, but I was drawn to it for some reason. I kind of like the stencil. It's pretty crisp, nice lettering, but I have no clue what it says. Anyone ever seen this tag before or have any idea what this says. I've come up with a couple of ideas, but I don't think they are right...
anyhow, until next time.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

January in Uptown

I've ventured out into the frigid Minneapolis air to see what's happening in the neighborhood during the cold months. It took a while, there is a noticeable lack of activity when it's been in the teens with piles of snow everywhere. Anyhow, here is a pile of new street art in the neighborhood.

Here's two angles of mural just off of 26th. You can see the bald old man blowing dandelions in the corner. I posted a picture of that this fall when there was nothing else on the wall, the rainbow skyline and the silhouettes of geese are new to this wall in an alley, not sure who is adding on to this or who sanctioned it, but it's clearly some sanctioned street art. It's well done, a little drab, but I still love the old man in the corner.

I'd been thinking a lot about adding more sanctioned street art to the sight and decided that it's entirely appropriate. It's still street art, and sanctioned street art is just as valuable as non-sanctioned, if not more. It's an important step towards getting rid of the crappy tags and allowing the more artistic sprays and stencils to be a part of the city. So here's one that's been up forever on the backside of Taco Morelos on 26th and Nicollet near Azia.

This isn't that spectacular but I kind of dig it. I think it was just done in marker on the side of a laundromat that burned down on 26th. No tag. No need.

These two stencils are tagged by what I believe is "We In." I have no idea who this is and have never seen his tag in Minneapolis before, but I think these are really great. The color isn't fairly represented on the statue of liberty stencil, it's very subtle but the use of the green sprays behind the statue is great.

I found all three of these under an over hang behind a deli on Nicollet between 25th and 26th. None of them have any tags, but the two stencils are quality and the spray art has a nice cartoony quality to it.

I added these two at the end here as another point of the varying fashions in which street art can appear. Most people would not try to argue that these are "art" in any familiar incarnation, but these are a fashion in which people choose to express themselves that branches out from the capitalistic avenues which are generally open to people. These may not say much, and they may be "graffiti" to some, but it's another way in which people are fighting the notion that there are only conventional limited ways to get your views out. Something like writing "no war" on your garbage can (or someone else's) doesn't really say much literally, and it may not really do much, but if it's meaningful to the "artist" than its a valid form of expression and I chose not to ignore it here.