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“The Watchers” is a film adaptation of the 2022 book of the same name by A.M. Shine.
Review: “The Watchers”
Published June 13, 2024

New art aims to include Cedar-Riverside youth 

The Midnight Garden mural and Riverside Plaza shed create new opportunities for youth in the community. 
Newly-painted+Midnight+Garden+mural+at+the+Darul+Quba+Cultural+Center.
Image by Courtesy of Joan Vorderbruggen
Newly-painted Midnight Garden mural at the Darul Quba Cultural Center.

Cedar-Riverside welcomed two new public art projects this fall with the hope of bringing the community together and brightening the neighborhood’s image. 

The Midnight Garden mural at the Darul Quba Cultural Center was completed in early September and followed a month later by the newly painted Plaza Shed in Riverside Plaza along Cedar Avenue. Public art consultant Joan Vorderbruggen coordinated the two art projects and said investing in public art is important for community togetherness because it reflects different cultures.

“The West Bank is a unique community and has some really rich and beautiful history that I think everyone can be really proud of and can forever be learning about,” Vorderbruggen said. 

 

Kids paint the Plaza Shed in Cedar-Riverside. (Image by Courtesy of Joan Vorderbruggen)

Vorderbruggen organized the projects with the West Bank Business Association and City Mischief Murals, a local artist collective focusing on providing space for communities of color. Although planning and getting resources and people for the project was difficult at times, Vorderbruggen said the added challenges made the art more special.

“Making a mural in this way at times can be more challenging, but it always yields such a more meaningful process and outcome,” Vorderbruggen said. 

Vorderbruggen said working with local groups was wonderful because of their focus on youth enrichment. Kids and young adults at the Brian Coyle Neighborhood Center were involved in designing both projects and were responsible for painting the Plaza Shed, according to Vorderbruggen.

“I really appreciate that [the community] knows that investing in kids and doing different things that isn’t just solely focused on academics or sports are good investments,” Vorderbruggen said. 

Youth educator and enrichment coach at the Brian Coyle Neighborhood Center Jennifer Weber said children and young adults have been an afterthought in Cedar-Riverside in recent years, especially after the pandemic. According to Weber, children of all ages have been pushing for more public activities to empower themselves and the community. 

“[The youth] were the ones who said for themselves, ‘We want our voice back,’” Weber said. 

Weber added it is important to include all youth in the community equally and said more opportunities are needed so everyone from middle school to young adulthood should have experiences that benefit them.

 

The two art projects sit next to each other to brighten Riverside Plaza. (Image by Courtesy of Joan Vorderbruggen)

“It’s about providing opportunities,” Weber said. “So many of our youth are ready for the opportunities, but the opportunities don’t exist.” 

Community organizer and member of the Darul Quba Cultural Center Ibrahim Abdullahi said the community wanted to step up and change the appearance of the center because it is one of the most prominent buildings in Cedar-Riverside. 

Part of changing the community is getting the youth out of dangerous situations like drug use and encampments by creating activities. According to Abdullahi, the best way to create more opportunities is by expanding their connections with other communities around the city, including the University of Minnesota.

“We are trying to change the image of our community and bring more art, more peace, more togetherness,” Abdullahi said.

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