Students, community members create Dinkytown history exhibit

Vadim Lavrusik

Bob Dylan said the times they are a-changin’, and a lot has changed in Dinkytown since he first lived there.

Mostly, it’s been the names of restaurants and cafes and the kind of the music being played.

University students, in collaboration with Dinkytown community members, created an exhibit to showcase the unique history of Dinkytown as a part of a history class project.

The exhibit,”Dinkytown Histories: Multiple Stories, Multiple Meanings” will be on display at an opening 6 p.m. Friday in Nolte Hall. The exhibit will be open to the public until Feb. 9.

Students compiled the projects through research and interviews with musicians, activists, residents, businesses and artists, said Andy Urban, co-instructor of the 3001 course.

where to go

Dinkytown Histories: Multiple stories, multiple meanings
WHAT: Free exhibit focusing on the history of Dinkytown
WHEN: 6 to 9 p.m. Friday,
until Feb. 9
WHERE: 125 Nolte Hall

In the past two years, the exhibits focused on the history of Cedar-Riverside, but professors decided to look at Dinkytown this year, Urban said.

He said a lot of students live in Dinkytown and the project provides an opportunity for the students to learn about the history of their community.

The exhibit focuses on the music scene in Dinkytown, the social protests in the 1970s, the historic preservation debate surrounding the mills and grain elevators in the area, the role of public art and how various changes in transportation impacted the neighborhood.

The opening of the exhibit will feature performances by local musicians who collaborated with students on the projects.

Cadillac Kolstad, a Dinkytown musician who performs at the Loring Pasta Bar, said he helped provide students with resources and pointed them to musically historic sites.

Kolstad said he told them to talk to people like Red Nelson, who first booked Bob Dylan at the Ten O’Clock Scholar coffee shop – now a Hollywood Video – providing the students with the oral history of the music scene in Dinkytown in the 1960s.

He said people have come from as far as Japan to see where Bob Dylan first played.

“Many of these things are an important part of Dinkytown history, and more people need to get excited about it,” he said.

Students in the public history course broke into focus groups.

Emma O’Brien, a history and urban studies junior, was in the Dinkytown music history group and said they focused on different music movements.

O’Brien said the group also explored the controversy behind Bon Appetit, where Kafé 421 is now located. The cafe closed in 1999 because the owner was allegedly furious after finding out a hip-hop night called “Headspin Sundays” was being featured in her building.

The weekly hip-hop night was the longest-running hip-hop show in the area, running for about 50 weeks, she said.

“The Dinkytown business community claimed that the shows were stopped because of license violations,” she said.

Others said it was because the landlord didn’t want hip-hop being played in her building, she said.

The exhibit also highlights the importance of grain elevators and other mills in the area.

Natalya Egon, architecture and art junior, said her group focused on the history of milling in Dinkytown and the effort for their preservation.

The Bunge towers, which are being redeveloped into high-rise condo complexes, are an example of attempts to maintain the original structures, Egon said.

“It’s pretty important to deal with what’s already there instead of just demolishing it,” she said.

Egon, who lives in Dinkytown, said she liked learning about her community.

“I think it’s really interesting to walk around and know things about certain places that other people don’t; how so much has changed but really how the neighborhood has stayed the same,” she said.