This Place: The Twin Cities
By Jack Becker, Forecast Public Art
What I love about the Twin Cities is that we have two very different, unique and great cities in ONE. Minneapolis and St. Paul are so close together, yet so different, it's like having Boston and Los Angeles meeting at the Mississippi.
St. Paul—like Boston—oozes European old-world charm and values, preserving its historic buildings (my favorite is the Ramsey County Courthouse, an Art Deco gem with its jaw-dropping Carl Milles sculpture—a monumental onyx masterpiece).
It has winding streets that are easy to get lost in, lots of family-oriented museums, and of course it's the capital of Minnesota, with an amazing State Capitol building designed by Cass Gilbert.
Minneapolis is the arts and entertainment capital of Minnesota, with nightlife that won't quit, amazing theaters and museums and galleries.
The streets are a grid, so you really can't get lost. The city—like LA—tends to dispense with the old in favor of the new. Progressive architecture is easy to find (the Guthrie Theater and the University of Minnesota's Weisman Art Museum are good places to start).
I like the computer-programmed light displays on the top of the Target headquarters building (a light show every night).
The Twin Cities have more community-based arts organizations per capita than anywhere in the country, and it shows. Public art is everywhere, and many artists benefit from the grants and commission opportunities that abound.
But it's also a heavy D.I.Y. art scene, and that means on any given day or night, you might encounter homegrown creativity on the streets, in the parks, and in unexpected places.
Be prepared to be surprised, and don't just visit one of the Twins!
- Check out this map of Twin Cities public art.
- Here's a Minneapolis Arts Commission public art page and map.
- The McKnight Foundation has a fine interactive map of regional arts.
Jack Becker is the Executive Director of Forecast Public Art in St. Paul, MN