What do you do with a persistently vacant storefront?
Fill it with art, of course, if you're JobyLynn Sassily-James.
When the Kingfield resident and public art aficionado got wind of the 2012 edition of the Whittier neighborhood's Artists in Storefronts project, she jumped at the chance. The project aims to beautify vacant storefronts—and a few occupied ones—with a dizzying array of local art.
"I really believe in public art and the way it connects communities," she told Patch in an interview on Thursday. "I love how it brings people out and how you meet people you never might have talked to."
Sassily-James puts that excitement into action. She was not only involved in the Walldogs on Nicollet mural painting, but also maintains a community garden next to her house and is a perennial member of the .
While many of her pieces—energetic and colorful collage-like mixed media works—aren't much larger than 1 foot by 1 foot, a storefront wasn't a challenge to Sassily-James. In fact, it fit right in with her creative style.
She started with a "garden goddess" she created for a scarecrow art competition at last year's Minnesota State Fair (all other categories were filled by the time she applied she said, grinning), then simply grooved on a number of her favorite themes like vintage housewares and gardening to come up with the final product. In one half the pseudo-scarecrow, bedecked in a grout-and tile mosaic, stands in front of a wall of tissue paper flowers, suggesting a garden. Across the empty vestibule, Sassily-James assembled a kitchen scene, mixing vintage furniture and domestic items with her own works of art.
"I started thinking about spring, and the (nearby) Minneapolis Institute of Arts flower show, and about wanting to do something bright and happy," she said. "Once you're matched up with your space, you just have to figure out how to make it work. Sometimes an obstacle arises and you figure out a creative way around it on the fly."
See Sassily-James' work across the street from Jasmine 26, near the corner of Nicollet Avenue and 26th Street. Are there storefronts in Southwest Minneapolis that you'd like to see enlivened? Tell everyone about them in the comments!