Julie Landsman: The Plymouth Avenue Project

Julie Landsman: The Plymouth Avenue Project

A new year begins with us still in the grip of the Covid pandemic. And so we will continue, inside gallery closed, with our window show series, Inside-Out, with new work by Julie Landsman.

About this project, Julie writes: I drive on Plymouth Avenue from the river to Homewood Studios many times a week, most weeks. After years, I decided to have a look at this street on Google maps. I noticed its lushness: a juxtaposition between this peaceful, distant view and the way North Minneapolis is often featured in the news as a place of violence or urban blight.

I have not experienced the Northside in that negative way, not during my years as a teacher at North High School, or with friends from this part of town.

Homewood Studios has become a space for creative inspiration, my Tai Chi home, a gathering place, as well as my painting and writing stuidio. So many who have lived here for years know how this part of Minneapolis encompasses a complex gathering of people and businesses, homes and gardens, problems and conflicts, celebration and mourning just as does any rich, difficult, changing, city expanse. Many before me have researched, filmed, photographed, painted, and organized events, here for a long time, often unrecognized. So why the stubbornness of memory that holds this part of the city as a place of continuing crime? Why the fear and hesitancy when I suggest to friends we meet at my studio? Racism plays a big part. Ignorance of the changes that have transformed these streets plays a part. Media’s emphasis on violence adds to the image. I hope this glimpse from above brings new perspectives.

What will be on gallery in the windows of Homewood Studios for January are sixteen watercolor paintings I did of the aerial view of Plymouth Avenue from Wirth Park to the Mississippi River. I became fascinated with the patterns and color and objects and streets, the plants and buildings and empty spaces, all from the air. I also added some lines of poetry along the way. It is a rich Avenue, with its new mural, its garden, its barbershop and houses, bus stops, liquor store and day care center. From the air all of this looks like much care was made to keep it green, tree-lined and spacious. I hope this project continues, that we gather additional stories and music and poems and paintings and history to accompany us in a celebration of Plymouth Avenue and its longevity, beauty and delight.