In the 1990s, something special was beginning to take place in Minneapolis. On the West Bank, street artists would congregate over a slice of pizza at Rocky Rococo, challenging one another to who could paint the most elaborate graffiti throughout the cities. For people of a certain generation, names like Emer AKB, YEN 34HM, and Ewok MSK HM AWR all evoke a golden age of street art covertly tagged on Minneapolis South High School or the tracks near the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus. What was once regarded as petty vandalism has morphed into an indelible feature of our local history.
The rebellious spirit of these artists has paved the way for others to use artistic expression for chronicling history. In a tumultuous post-George Floyd moment, the question of what responsibility artists hold in speaking for, and with, their communities remains a delicate one. Which is why Joe Ellis, a native of South Minneapolis, has dedicated his career as a curator and gallerist to amplifying the creative voices of his community through various projects. KFAI’s Nick Kouhi sat down to talk with Joe about what inspirations guided his practice, as well as his hopes for the sixth edition of the Lyn Lake Street Art Series, set to open on July 14.
Ellis and and LLSAS have created a limited addition silkscreen print for LynLake Street Art Series which will be available for public purchase at the event.