Museums + Galleries

St. Paul's Spark

The dusk-to-dawn Northern Spark arts festival is Lowertown’s chance to shine.

St. Paul's Spark
Photo by Patrick Kelley
Northern Spark features a wide variety of projects and perfomances.

St. Paul is buzzing these days. The Minnesota Museum of American Art opened the doors to its project space in the Pioneer Building this past winter. Bedlam Theatre relocated in Lowertown. Union Depot is poised to reclaim its place in the urban core. And June 8, the all-night Northern Spark arts festival will overtake Lowertown with nearly 80 projects, sculptures, installations, and performances. Artist Chris Larson will even create (and ignite) a reproduction of the only residence in North America designed by iconic 20th-century architect Marcel Breuer, which happens to be right here in Saint Paul.

For the past two years, Northern Spark has been spread out across Minneapolis and St. Paul. Consolidating it in St. Paul will make it easier for attendees to see more work. And, according to organizer Steve Dietz, it’s also the only time the festival could happen quite this way, because next year Union Depot will be animated by the hustle and bustle of travelers on light-rail and Amtrak.

The revival of Union Depot is particularly poignant as a location for exploring the theme of travel and transition (not to mention a great backdrop for a number of the evening’s events). “A lot of the inspiration for this year’s festival is around this idea of journeying and portals,” says Dietz. That metaphor extends in many creative directions, one of the more intriguing being a project by Mizna, a St. Paul–based Arab arts and culture group. “[Mizna] is undertaking a wonderful project,” says Dietz. “They’re working with artists from Egypt who are taking street art from the Arab Spring to make stencils people can use to re-create street art on a temporarily exposed wall inside Union Depot.”

That’s only one journey, though. There are 79 others to explore as well. So be sure to get a nap in, and get ready to greet the dawn.

June 8. Various locations, from sunset to sunrise, Lowertown, St. Paul, northernspark.org

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