Photo credit: Elizabeth Flores for the Star Tribune
Building community through public art
“We feel the presence of art in our community by walking, riding our bikes, driving under the Robert Street pedestrian bridge (pictured, above) and the Robert Street viaduct, and spending time in our community gardens,” reflected Kai Andersen, WSCO’s Equitable Development Director. “Art helps us hear, see, smell, touch, and taste the rhythms of our cultural traditions.”
On the West Side, art as a form of activism has always helped tell our collective stories and demand truth and justice. Art has been a tool of place keeping, a way of coming into our cultural belonging. Public art can disrupt gentrification, displacement, and exclusion– while increasing the accessibility and visibility of our community. This is especially important on the West Side Flats, a part of our neighborhood with both a hidden history of displacement and many new condos being built that are drawing in new, mostly affluent and white residents from Saint Paul’s downtown.
In 2023, WSCO is integrating public art in and around the design of new housing development sites as a collaborative community engagement process. We believe art opens up inspiration and possibilities by telling our stories together, and is a key part of making the West Side more accessible to everyone, especially Black, indigenous, and people of color who have lived here for generations.
We are proud to partner with many community organizers, cultural producers, artists, collaborators, urban planning minds who have a passion for racial and economic justice. We are working closely with the Office of Cultural Work to bring public art to buildings on the West Side: the Verdant Apartments at 85 S. Livingston Avenue, Scenic Apartments at 55 Livingston Ave S., and Soul Apartments at 176 Robert Street.
- Learn more about these projects
- Learn more about WSCO's partnership with the Office of Cultural Work and Shannon Brunette (pictured, above left, with West Side artist Jesús Ramírez)
We invite community members to get involved and share your vision for public art in our neighborhood by contacting Kai Andersen, WSCO Equitable Development Director, at [email protected]
The Robert Street Pedestrian Bridge
Check out the video, above, to learn how the 2020 mural on the Robert Street pedestrian bridge was created!