Tonight: "Save Canvas" debuts in downtown Minneapolis

The plan was that the three buildings in the shadow of Target's color-shifting Minneapolis headquarters would be replaced with a 53-story tower billed as the most luxurious condo facility in the city. But plans change: Four years later, the site of The Nicollet -- once home to Let It Be Records, Sawatdee restaurant, Key's Diner and Big Brain Comics -- sits vacant, black mold crawling its walls and water puddling on its floors. Thanks to the economic downturn, pigeons, not upscale urbanites, occupy this would-be "landmark in the making" -- as The Nicollet's marketing slogan read.

Finally, tonight, these spaces will see a little rebirth.

Overproof Studio, in cooperation with Shardlow's company and other local partners, are presenting Save Canvas, an art installation by Minneapolis' Aaron Bickner and Andy Shannon. Viewable only from the street, one building unspools a narrative: one side shows a curmudgeonly seeming old woman, head buried in a newspaper -- a 2005 City Pages story that pooh-poohed the project, which meant the evictions of a posse of bike messengers -- as pigeons mill nearby. The other shows her opposite a young girl crouching in the decaying space to rip up the flooring and expose some kind of colorful agent (variously dubbed bacteria or "creative amoeba" by project participants).

The Save Canvas theme is two-fold: the art is sprayed onto walls of the abandoned space instead of a more traditional surface, and the materials used are scavenged or recycled: vinyl posters from The Nicollet's marketing are repurposed; the Minnesota Opera has donated old set pieces for re-use; and junk left behind by business owners is configured in sculptural assemblages.

Tonight's party -- which runs from 7 to 10:30 pm on 10th Street between Nicollet and Marquette -- will include the unveiling of the project, plus music at an adjacent pop-up gallery by DJ Rambo Salinas and guests, beverages by Gastro non Grata, and an art show by Bickner and Shannon, plus members of Overproof. And there will paint-filled Supersoakers, so visitors can spew some "creative amoeba" of their own on the decaying site.

Here's my video preview of the installation:

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