Lowertown: InsideOut When’s the first time we knew we’d “made it”? When the faces of artists, typically left out of the mainstream art scene, were more than life-size plastered on the walls in Lowertown as part of the artist group chosen for Lowertown’s InsideOut project. In the summer of 2015, we walked down the street and around the corners in Lowertown under the watchful, warm, and inviting gaze of Lowertown’s artists, we knew. We’d never realized it before then – that Lowertown is the entity created by the people who live, create, and are in the community inside the multiple city blocks. While Lowertown actually is a fundamental “Lower Town” within the capital city of Saint Paul, Minnesota, its history suggests that the streets and avenues built at a lower elevation and closer to the Mississippi River are only the container/vehicle where Lowertown resides. The inside, the belly, the underbelly, and behind the walls of the literary, industrial, and geology influenced the architecture of the pocket of land cozily sandwiched between skyscrapers, the railway, and multi-layered highways doesn’t only represent Lowertown – it’s actually the other way around. Lowertown is a name, like a family crest, which unifies and encompasses the life and loves of the artists, business owners, and residents who both hold worlds inside their minds and toil to make their visions into art pieces that ultimately become a gift that lives beyond. But, as with all richness, there’s an edge which is difficult to see – the edge which forms slowly over time – created only by the space of the amount of energy it takes to define and defend an artist’s identity as both private and personal and yet public – intriguing and mysterious. It takes more steps for an artist to help you understand, to invite you in, to risk and be vulnerable in case you rush to the definition of who they are, what they do, how they live and sustain – to build the road of relationship and community. With the extra energy, focus, and commitment that remaining in the community takes, the space which would include the others remains unconsciously empty. By seeing so many familiar faces, we realized that The Show Nonprofit – Lowertown artists have a lot of experience in going the extra mile to connect, to be understood, to be in community with others who appreciated them and the art they create. They were not herebecause of their differences but because of their obvious affinity as artists. As we walked through Lowertown, we saw individuals and artists who, with their soulful and personal artist eyes and smiles gazing out over us, welcomed visitors to Lowertown as they walk the streets that day.
An excerpt from “The Five Year Book” Written by Tina Van Erp https://www.insideoutproject.net/es/explore/group-action/inside-out-lowertown