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Author: Sara Bennett

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Step into Esox House & Harbourline Apartments

Welcome to Farwell-on-Water, where luxury living meets modern comfort. Step into the world of sophistication and tranquility with our two distinct apartment buildings—Esox House and Harbourline. Each designed with meticulous attention to detail and tailored amenities, these residences redefine the essence of home.

Harbourline: Your Urban Oasis

At Harbourline, we’ve crafted 63 income-qualified apartments designed with your lifestyle in mind. Our one-bedroom and two-bedroom floor plans boast open concept layouts, flooded with natural light from large windows.

Picture yourself cooking cozy meals in our kitchens adorned with stainless steel appliances, elegant tile backsplashes, and solid surface countertops.

Retreat to the comfort of carpeted bedrooms, complete with spacious closets and air conditioning for those warm summer days. With easy city access, Harbourline is your gateway to St. Paul living without sacrificing comfort.

Esox House: Where Elegance Meets Nature

Experience refined living at Esox House, where every detail exudes sophistication. From premium finishes to breathtaking views of river bluffs and serene waters, each residence offers a sanctuary of tranquility. Our GE Energy Efficient Stainless Steel Appliances and West Elm kitchen chandelier elevate your culinary experience, while wood-look flooring and abundant natural light create an ambiance of warmth and comfort.

Pamper yourself in spa-like bathrooms featuring tile shower surrounds and double vanities in select units, providing both luxury and functionality. Step out onto your private balcony or patio and immerse yourself in the beauty of nature, right at your doorstep.

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Both Esox House and Harbourline offer a range of amenities designed to enhance your lifestyle. Whether you’re lounging in the sun-drenched living spaces or taking in the scenic views from your private balcony, every moment is an opportunity for relaxation and rejuvenation. And with convenient access to additional storage, washer & dryer in-unit, and desk nooks for remote work, convenience meets luxury at every turn.

Ready to call the Farwell-on-Water community your new home? Schedule a tour at either Esox House or Harbourline today and discover the perfect place to call home. Our dedicated team is here to help you find the residence that suits your unique lifestyle. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to elevate your everyday—contact us now and embark on a journey to luxury living in Farwell-on-Water.

Schedule a Tour at Esox House

Contact Us at Harbourline

Top 10 Restaurants Near Harriet Island in St. Paul

Nestled in the heart of St. Paul, our Farwell-on-Water neighborhood offers a diverse culinary landscape, boasting an array of restaurants that cater to every palate. Whether you’re craving upscale dining or casual fare, this vibrant neighborhood has something to satisfy every craving. Join us as we explore the top 10 restaurants near Farwell!

Meritage

Located just a stone’s throw away from Farwell-on-Water, Meritage is a beloved French brasserie known for its elegant ambiance and delectable cuisine. Indulge in classic French dishes like steak frites and escargot, paired with an extensive wine list featuring selections from France and beyond.

Pajarito

Pajarito

For contemporary Mexican cuisine with a creative twist, look no further than Pajarito. Situated in the heart of St. Paul, this lively eatery offers a menu inspired by the flavors of Mexico, featuring dishes like tacos al pastor, mole enchiladas, and ceviche. Don’t miss their handcrafted cocktails and extensive tequila selection.

WAFrost

W.A. Frost & Company

Housed in a historic mansion, W.A. Frost & Company offers a charming setting for upscale dining. Known for its seasonal American fare and extensive wine list, this restaurant is perfect for special occasions or romantic evenings. Be sure to try their renowned patio dining during the warmer months.

HandsomeHog

The Handsome Hog

If you’re in the mood for Southern comfort food, head to The Handsome Hog. This cozy eatery specializes in dishes like smoked brisket, fried chicken, and shrimp and grits, all served with a side of hospitality. Don’t forget to save room for their famous bourbon bread pudding.

CityHouse

Red River Kitchen at City House

Located on the banks of the Mississippi River, Red River Kitchen at City House offers stunning views and delicious food. This seasonal restaurant serves up a menu of American classics with a twist, featuring dishes like burgers, sandwiches, and fresh seafood. Enjoy your meal al fresco on their spacious patio overlooking the river.

Moscow

Moscow on the Hill

For a taste of Russia in St. Paul, look no further than Moscow on the Hill. This cozy restaurant offers a menu of authentic Russian cuisine, including borscht, beef stroganoff, and pierogi. Pair your meal with one of their infused vodkas for a true Russian dining experience.

JosephsGrill

Joseph’s Grill

Joseph’s Grill is a neighborhood favorite known for its hearty American fare and friendly atmosphere. Whether you’re craving a juicy burger, a plate of pasta, or a classic Reuben sandwich, you’ll find it here. Don’t miss their weekend brunch featuring bottomless mimosas and Bloody Marys.

JoansInThePark

 Joan’s in the Park

For an elegant dining experience in St. Paul, make a reservation at Joan’s in the Park. This upscale restaurant offers a seasonal menu of contemporary American cuisine, with dishes like seared scallops, roasted duck breast, and braised short ribs. Pair your meal with a selection from their extensive wine list for the perfect dining experience.

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Gray Duck Tavern

Enjoy modern American cuisine at Gray Duck Tavern, located in the historic Saint Paul Hotel. Their menu features dishes made with locally sourced ingredients, alongside craft cocktails and an extensive wine list.

NinaCoffee

Nina’s Coffee Cafe

For a cozy brunch spot, visit Nina’s Coffee Cafe, known for their delicious breakfast dishes and friendly service. Their menu features classics like pancakes, omelets, and breakfast sandwiches.

From upscale dining to casual eateries, the Farwell-on-Water/Harriet Island area in St. Paul offers a diverse culinary scene that is sure to satisfy even the most discerning palate. Whether you’re looking for French cuisine, Mexican flavors, or classic American fare, you’ll find it all within reach of 150 Water Street. Which one of these places are you most excited to try?

F-O-K Studios Artist Spotlight: Heather M. Cole

Meet Heather M. Cole

Heather’s artistic journey is a profound exploration of transformation, both conceptually and physically. Her fascination lies in the metamorphosis of things—how they can change, find new purposes, and undergo a complete transformation from their original state. Her work is a testament to her passion for reshaping common, everyday objects and materials into entirely new configurations and functions. It’s not just about altering the physical appearance but also about shifting the ambiance and, potentially, the thought processes of those who encounter her art.

In her creative process, Heather meticulously considers the life cycle of each original object, contemplating the path it takes to become something new. She begins by collecting discarded items, then proceeds to process them into materials through cleaning, cutting, and manipulation, eventually culminating in the assembly of the final piece. It’s a journey that mirrors the larger story of these objects as waste materials navigating through the world, often following diverse and sometimes destructive paths that impact our very existence.

Through her art, Heather aims to inspire viewers to reflect on their own actions and their potential to bring about change. She hopes to encourage individuals to reduce the negative impacts of their choices and, in doing so, contribute positively to the larger environment as a whole. Her work serves as a powerful catalyst for introspection and environmental consciousness, inviting us all to reconsider our roles in shaping the world around us.

Describe your art in three words

Eco conscious creativity

What medium(s) do you primarily work with?

Found material installations and objects, often plastic packaging

What themes or subjects do you commonly explore in your work?

Consumerism, eco concerns, creative thinking, thinking beyond the object, re-use

How did you start your journey as an artist?

I noticed something interesting and picked it up.

What or who are your biggest influences?

Things that are created to be discarded. Louise Nevelson. Arman. My grandparents made things from other things. 

Can you share a defining moment in your artistic career?

When my photographer friend and I took some photos of my work outside in the dark. I had been making light fixtures at the time and moving these to a different and unexpected environment completely changed what I wanted to do as a creative endeavor and I started looking at my work in a broader context.

How long have you had your studio at Farwell on Water?

10+ Years.

What do you love about working within the Farwell on Water community?

It has changed drastically over the years. I am interested to see how it will evolve.

How has the studio space contributed to your work?

Artist(s) need space. Physical space and mental space. My studio gives me that.

Do you have any upcoming shows or exhibitions?

I will have a three woman show at Artistry in Bloomington focused on eco and environmental issues. With Rachel Breen, Heather M. Cole and Shana Kaplow.

USED
Artistry/ Inez Greenberg Gallery
Bloomington, MN
March 22 – May 12, 2024

What are your aspirations for the next year as an artist?

Develop a workshop. Travel for Artist Residencies. Do something totally new.

Is there anything else you would like to share or promote?

Please think. Think creatively. Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Recycle.

See more of Heather’s work on her website:
DesignHMC.com
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The Minnesota Yacht Club Festival is Setting Sail in 2024!

There’s a thrilling new addition to the world of live music on the horizon. C3 Presents, the visionary force behind iconic festivals like Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits, is about to unveil a sensational addition to their repertoire. Get ready to set sail on an extraordinary musical journey—the Minnesota Yacht Club Festival, on our very own Harriet Island!

Alanis Morrisette Headlines – Astrida Valigorsky/Getty Images

Get Ready to Rock the Boat

The Minnesota Yacht Club Festival is all set to make waves in 2024, promising a weekend of musical magic, riverside reverie, and unforgettable moments. Picture this: 20 incredible acts spanning the genres of rock, pop, and blues will grace the stage over two glorious days next summer. Mark your calendars for July 19-20, and prepare to embark on an adventure you won’t soon forget.

Joan Jett – Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Live Nation

The Lineup

On Friday, prepare to be serenaded by iconic women like Gwen Stefani and Alanis Morissette, as well as the rockin’ sounds of Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, The Black Crowes, and more! Saturday promises an electrifying experience with the Red Hot Chili Peppers headlining and a supporting lineup that includes The Offspring, Hippo Campus, Soul Asylum, and a host of other fantastic acts. This diverse lineup promises an unforgettable musical experience that caters to all tastes. 

Friday, July 19

  • Gwen Stefani
  • Alanis Morissette
  • The Black Crowes
  • Joan Jett & the Blackhearts
  • The Head and The Heart
  • Durry
  • Morgan Wade
  • Michigander
  • Gully Boys
  • Harbor & Home
Red Hot Chili Peppers – Getty Images North America

Saturday, July 20

  • Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • The Offspring
  • Hippo Campus
  • Gary Clark Jr.
  • The Hold Steady
  • Soul Asylum
  • Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue
  • Wilderado
  • Nico Vega
  • Irontom
Jeff Wheeler/Star Tribune

A Riverside Oasis: Harriet Island Regional Park

The festival’s stunning backdrop is none other than the picturesque Harriet Island Regional Park, nestled in the heart of downtown St. Paul, Minnesota. Imagine the sound waves of live music serenading you beneath giant cottonwood trees, along the majestic Mississippi River. It’s a setting that promises to be as enchanting as the music itself.

Your Ultimate Festival Experience

The inaugural Minnesota Yacht Club Festival is here to pick up where River’s Edge left off, and it’s bringing the heat! With two days of music spread across two stages and no overlapping sets, you’ll have the freedom to catch all your favorite artists.

The festival will kick off at 12:30 PM (doors) and continue rocking until 10:30 PM, ensuring you have plenty of time to soak in the atmosphere and groove to the beats.

Tickets are Selling Fast!

Don’t miss out on this spectacular event. Secure your tickets now and make sure you’re part of the Minnesota Yacht Club Festival. Choose from a variety of ticket options to suit your preferences, including VIP packages for an enhanced experience.

In a world where live music meets riverside beauty, the Minnesota Yacht Club Festival is your ticket to an unforgettable weekend of music, relaxation, and pure summer bliss. Get ready to join on July 19th and 20th, 2024, and create memories that will last a lifetime.

F-O-K Studios Featured Artist: Tom Reynen Photography

Meet Tom Reynen –

A skilled digital photographer residing in Shoreview, Minnesota, Tom boasts an extensive body of work celebrated for its diversity and captivating imagery. His photographs, specializing in nature, close-ups of flowers, landscapes, architectural details, and travel scenes, have graced local galleries, exhibitions, and even the pages of the Minneapolis StarTribune newspaper. Tom’s talent extends beyond his home state; he also maintains a second residence in Vancouver, BC, Canada, enriching his portfolio with the stunning landscapes of the Pacific Northwest.

In addition to his photography, Tom plays a vital role in the local art community. As the President of Gallery 96, a non-profit arts organization in the northern St. Paul MN suburbs, he promotes the work of artists from the region in various media. Tom’s active involvement also includes membership in prestigious galleries like the Dow Gallery and the Art Guild Gallery of Stillwater MN. With thousands of photos in his portfolio, Tom Reynen’s artistry invites viewers to explore a world of vibrant colors and timeless beauty through his lens. In this Q&A, we have the privilege of hearing from Tom himself as he shares his experiences and insights into the world of photography.

What themes or subjects do you commonly explore in your work?

My main areas of interest are nature, travel, and architectural details, such as doors and windows.  I also love abandoned buildings. Two of my favorite cities to photograph are Paris and Venice.

Cafe Le Buci

How did you start your journey as an artist?

I have traveled a lot during my life and photography started as just a way to document my trips. But film limited the number of photos I could take, there was a delay in seeing the actual photos printed and there were few options to edit the photos. With the birth of digital photography and cameras on iPhones, you can take multiple shots, get instant feedback and edit them to express different moods, colors and themes. This makes me feel much more like an artist.

Can you share a defining moment in your artistic career?

My first exhibit of my photos was in the Wilde Roast Cafe in NE Mpls. There was a small opening reception and during the month the show was up I sold 9 photos (and had one stolen) and that validation made me want to produce more photos and exhibit in more places.

What do you love about working within the Farwell on Water community?

I love that it is a growing community where I can interact with other artists, participate in group events and have a space to hang and display more of my work. My previous studio was 325 sq ft in Lowertown in a building not open to the public and none of the other 3 tenants were artists. So it was a place to work but not a place to thrive.

Dahlia Close-up by Tom Reynen

How has the studio space contributed to your work?

My studio is almost twice the space I had previously so I can store and hang more of my photos and the ability to paint the walls the colors of my choice will enable me to expand the portrait photography side of my business by reducing the need to rely on backdrops.

Do you collaborate with other artists at Farwell on Water? If so, can you describe one of these collaborations?

I have met several of the other artists but have not had a chance to collaborate with them but I am certainly open to doing so in the future. I also have a lot of experience in organizing gallery shows and working on social media marketing so I hope to get involved in those areas in the future.

Mississippi Steamboat
Mississippi Steamboat

Do you have any upcoming shows or exhibitions?

I currently have two pieces in the “MSP Creates 2023” art exhibition on the C Concourse at the Minneapolis/St Paul airport. I have two pieces in a Gallery 96 show at the Shoreview Public Library called “White Out” that runs January 20 to March 1. I am a member of the Dow Gallery on University Ave in St. Paul, the House of heART2 AirBnB gallery in the Summit Hill neighborhood of St. Paul and the Art Guild Gallery in Stillwater and have permanent wall space in all three venues. My notecards are for sale in the giftshop of White Bear Center for the Arts. I will be an active participant in the St. Paul Art Crawls in the spring and fall.

Ballerinas

What are your aspirations for the next year as an artist?

I am in the process of consolidating all my framed photos from my previous studio and my home and am looking forward to hanging as many as I can so I can use my studio space as a showroom/gallery of my work.

tom-reynen-art
Tulip 15 by Tom Reynen

Is there anything else you would like to share?

My photos are available as both framed and unframed/matted prints.  I also have a series of notecards made from my photos. 

You can find Tom in studio 307B at F-O-K Studios.
See more of Tom’s work on his website https://tom-reynen.pixels.com/

Festivals of the 2000s: Pivotal Moments in Harriet Island’s Music History

Harriet Island, nestled in the heart of St. Paul, Minnesota, has a rich musical history that has been marked by pivotal moments, and the early 2000s were no exception. These years saw the island transform into a vibrant hub for music festivals that left an enduring mark on both the local community and music enthusiasts from far and wide. Join us on a journey through time as we revisit three of the most iconic festivals that graced Harriet Island during this era: the Vans Warped Tour 2002, River Rocks Music Festival 2008, and River’s Edge in 2012.

Vans Warped Tour 2002 on Harriet Island: A Wet and Wild Musical Journey

On August 9th, 2002, history was made as the Vans Warped Tour descended upon the scenic Harriet Island in St. Paul, MN. Known for its breathtaking view of the St. Paul skyline and the serene Mississippi River flowing nearby, this beautiful regional park proved to be an unlikely yet perfect setting for a punk rock extravaganza.

Vans Warped Tour 2002 concertarchives.org

The day started swelteringly hot, with temperatures soaring into the 90s by noon. The musical journey kicked off at 1:30 p.m. with the Alkaline Trio gracing one of the main stages. Their tight performance showcased their unique take on pop-punk, although the intense midday heat presented a challenge for both band and audience.

Flogging Molly 2002 musicmattersmedia.com

Yet, the most unforgettable moment of the day arrived when Flogging Molly began their set at 6:00 p.m. The light sprinkle turned into a torrential downpour, creating an extraordinary sight as thousands of punks danced in the rain to Irish punk tunes. The pit was a frenzy of mud and mayhem, and Flogging Molly’s tight performance elevated the experience to legendary proportions.

As the rain persisted, fans migrated to the other main stage to catch NOFX, only to discover that the rain had caused a power outage. What followed was a serendipitous and eclectic jam session, with members of various bands playing impromptu acoustic sets, including tunes from NOFX, Bad Religion, Weezer, and Bob Marley.

Despite the weather challenges, the 2002 Vans Warped Tour on Harriet Island remains a cherished memory for attendees. It was a day that exemplified the spirit of punk rock and the resilience of music lovers who braved the elements for an unforgettable musical journey.

River Rocks Music Festival 2008: A Weekend to Remember

The McNally Smith River Rocks Music Festival 2008 was a standout weekend in Harriot Island’s musical history. Held on the picturesque Harriet Island in September, it brought together an impressive lineup of artists across two unforgettable days. Friday featured a range of acts, from the energetic White Iron Band to the multi-genre magic of Ozomatli. Jakob Dylan’s folk-rock and O.A.R.’s melodic tunes further enriched the night. Saturday’s eclectic mix included indie rockers The Alarmists, local hip-hop sensations Heiruspecs, and the genre-blending prowess of The Roots. Mike Doughty’s soulful performance and Live’s anthemic rock hits rounded off the evening. A surprise addition to Saturday’s lineup added to the excitement, and the festival showcased the talents of McNally Smith College of Music’s students, alumni, and faculty. As festival-goers left, they carried with them the joy of live music and a deeper appreciation for St. Paul’s thriving music scene.

Jakob Dylan and Semisonic play at River Rocks 2008 on Harriet Island. Source 

Remembering River’s Edge 2012

The River’s Edge Music Festival in 2012 left an enduring mark on both music enthusiasts and the music landscape of Harriet Island history in St. Paul, Minnesota. Over two unforgettable days, this festival not only showcased its diverse lineup but also left a lasting imprint on the local music community.

Raspberry Island at River’s Edge Music Festival. Source
Coheed and Cambria play the main stage. Source

Featuring renowned bands like Tool, The Flaming Lips, Coheed and Cambria, Brand New, Sublime with Rome, and beloved local favorites such as Motion City Soundtrack, the festival drew a broad spectrum of music aficionados. The festival’s eclectic mix ranged from Tool’s intricate musicianship to The Flaming Lips’ visually stunning performances, complete with Wayne Coyne’s iconic hamster ball antics, and Brand New’s heartfelt, introspective lyrics.

Motion City Soundtrack lead singer Justin Pierreat. Source

Enduring Impact

These festivals’ impact extended well beyond its captivating performances. They elevated Harriet Island’s status as a prime venue for large-scale music events, garnering the attention of event organizers and artists for future shows. With its picturesque location along the Mississippi River, Harriet Island became a favored destination for music enthusiasts and the community, fostering social connections and camaraderie.

Additionally, the festivals’ economic ripple effect benefited the local area significantly, boosting patronage for nearby businesses, restaurants, and hotels and invigorating the local economy.

Today, the early 2000s serve as an enduring source of inspiration, continuing to influence Harriet Island’s role as a host for music and cultural events. Its history lives on as Harriet Island remains an integral part of St. Paul’s music scene, contributing to the island’s cultural richness and serving as a testament to the timeless appeal of live music and community engagement.

What is Affordable Housing and How to Qualify for It

Affordable housing is a critical component of a thriving community, ensuring that individuals and families have access to safe and affordable places to live. In this article, we will explore what affordable housing is, why it matters, and how you can qualify for it.

What is Affordable Housing?

Affordable housing refers to housing options that are available at a cost that is within the means of individuals and families with lower incomes. These housing units are typically subsidized or financed in a way that makes them more affordable than market-rate housing. Affordable housing can take various forms, including rental apartments, condominiums, or single-family homes.

The need for affordable housing arises from the fact that housing costs in many urban areas have risen significantly faster than incomes, making it increasingly challenging for low to moderate-income individuals and families to find suitable places to live. Affordable housing programs aim to bridge this gap and provide housing options that are cost conscious and safe.

Why is Affordable Housing Important?

1. Economic Stability

Affordable housing is crucial for economic stability as it ensures that a significant portion of one’s income is not disproportionately spent on housing costs. When housing costs are manageable, individuals and families have more financial flexibility to cover other essential expenses like food, healthcare, and education.

It reduces the risk of eviction or foreclosure, which can lead to financial crisis and homelessness. Stable housing allows people to plan for the future, save money, and invest in their long-term financial well-being.

2. Reduced Poverty and Homelessness

Affordable housing plays a pivotal role in poverty reduction by providing a safety net for those with limited financial means. It helps low-income individuals and families meet their basic shelter needs, preventing them from falling deeper into poverty.

Homelessness often arises from the inability to secure affordable housing. By ensuring access to affordable homes, communities can reduce homelessness rates, improving the overall well-being of their residents.

3. Health and Well-Being

Affordable housing is directly linked to improved health outcomes. It provides a stable, safe, and clean living environment that reduces exposure to health hazards, such as substandard housing conditions or overcrowding.

Having a stable home promotes mental well-being by reducing stress and anxiety associated with housing insecurity. Moreover, it allows individuals and families to access healthcare and other essential services more consistently.

4. Community Stability

Affordable housing helps create diverse and stable communities by ensuring that people of different income levels can live in the same area. This promotes social cohesion, reduces social isolation, and fosters a sense of community.

Communities with affordable housing tend to be more resilient, with residents who are invested in the well-being of the neighborhood. This can lead to increased civic engagement and community development.

5. Economic Growth and Social Equity

Affordable housing contributes to economic growth by generating jobs in construction and related industries. It also boosts local economies as residents with more disposable income can support local businesses.

From a social equity perspective, affordable housing ensures that people of all income levels have equal opportunities to live in safe and healthy environments. It helps reduce disparities in housing quality and affordability, promoting a more just society.

Affordable housing can also mitigate environmental impacts by reducing the need for long commutes, leading to lower carbon emissions and less traffic congestion. Additionally, it can contribute to lower crime rates as residents with stable housing are more likely to invest in community safety.

How to Qualify for Affordable Housing

Qualifying for affordable housing typically involves meeting specific income and other eligibility criteria. While the exact requirements can vary depending on the program and location, here are some general steps and considerations:

1. Determine Your Eligibility

Research the affordable housing programs available in your area and determine their income limits and eligibility criteria. These criteria may include factors like household size, income level, and citizenship status.

2. Gather Documentation

Prepare the necessary documentation to support your application. This may include proof of income, identification, and other relevant paperwork. Be sure to keep copies of all documents for your records.

3. Apply for Housing Programs

Contact the relevant housing authorities or organizations responsible for administering affordable housing programs in your area. You can usually find application forms and instructions on their websites or by visiting their offices.

4. Attend Interviews and Inspections

Some programs may require interviews or inspections of the housing unit to ensure it meets the required standards. Be prepared to participate in these processes if necessary.

5. Wait for Approval

Once you’ve applied, you may need to wait for your application to be reviewed and approved. The waiting period can vary, so it’s essential to be patient during this time.

6. Keep Your Information Updated

If your circumstances change after receiving affordable housing, such as an increase in income, it’s crucial to report these changes promptly to the housing authority to ensure continued eligibility.

7. Understand Lease Terms

If your application is approved, make sure you understand the terms of the lease, including rent payment schedules and responsibilities as a tenant.

Affordable housing is crucial for economic well-being, poverty reduction, health, community stability, and promoting social equity and economic growth. It addresses a wide range of social, economic, and environmental challenges, making it a vital component of thriving and sustainable communities.

Would you like more information?


F-O-K Studios Featured Artist: Martha Bird and Her Woven Willow Sculptures

Martha Bird
Photo by: Emily Donovan

Meet Martha Bird

Martha Bird, an accomplished interdisciplinary artist living in Minneapolis, has been with F-O-K Studios at Farwell on Water since November 1, 2023. She honed her expertise in the craft of traditional basketry and is now vested in pushing the traditions of the technique into new forms and spaces through her artistic practice. Offering a window into Martha Bird’s artistic universe, this Q&A provides a deeper appreciation of the compelling narratives that fuel her passion for woven willow sculptures. She shares profound insights into her artistic inspirations, innovative processes, and the connection between her work and the world that surrounds her.

What themes or subjects do you commonly explore in your work?

My work explores the human body, manifestations of trauma, and concepts of resilience, energy, and growth. I’m inspired to use natural fibers as a path to explore the interplay of interior and exterior space, imperfection, and presence. I see my work as memoir. The meaning becomes clear when I am done and looking at the pieces in the context of each other. 

Martha Bird Art
marthabirdart.com

How did you start your journey as an artist?

In 1994, depressed and on bedrest from a disabling injury, I took a class in basketweaving and found it profoundly rehabilitating. As my health improved, I got really excited about the medium and dove into taking classes and exploring all the various weaves. I started attending an art studio program in Minneapolis several years later and because of my regular attendance, I was awarded my first solo exhibition. The community response was overwhelmingly positive, and from there I decided to continue creating and showing art.

What or who are your biggest influences?

Foundational basketry techniques are my starting point in creating conceptual sculptures that challenge the utilitarian form. Basketry is an artistic medium traditionally passed down from artisan to artisan, and to that end, nationally and internationally known basketmakers have taught and influenced me, including Pat Hickman, Jo Campbell-Amsler, and Patrick Dougherty. I also spent a month studying extensively with traditional Irish basketmakers in Ireland. 

Martha Bird with Patrick Dougherty (left)

Can you share a defining moment in your artistic career?

I expanded my work nationally when the former founder/curator of a Smithsonian gallery, Lloyd Herman, chose my very first sculptural basket to tour the US for a year with the National Basketry Organization. A mentor told me that part of being an artist is growing a thick skin to tolerate rejection when applying for opportunities. I entered this call thinking just that — a start to hearing ‘no’s — but I was utterly shocked when I was accepted into the exhibition. From there on I had confidence to pursue a career as an artist specializing in sculptural basketry.

“I am an artist, a nurse, and a truthteller. The artist in me wants to express; the nurse in me wants to encourage healing; and the truthteller wants to put form to difficult universal truths.”

-Martha Bird

What do you love about working within the Farwell on Water community?

I love that there are so many other artists creating in the building and I can hear the buzz of other artists working, while I too am working. I love that it is part of the St. Paul Art Crawl.

How has the studio space contributed to your work?

This studio is my first solo artist space and I’m excited to see how this influences my artwork.

marthabirdart.com

Do you have any upcoming shows or exhibitions?

My work can be found on Artsy.net, a bus stop at Franklin Ave & Chicago Ave in Minneapolis, and in an exhibition at Form + Content Gallery in Minneapolis from April 11 – May 18, 2024.

What are your aspirations for the next year as an artist?

I’m looking forward to establishing my art practice and routine at F-O-K Studios, joining in on an art crawl for the first time (St. Paul Art Crawl), and having the focus to start innovating my work in the studio.

Long-term art goals are to exhibit in the Minnesota Artist Exhibition Program at the Minneapolis Institute of Art and for this to lead to exhibiting my spiral sculptures in the Guggenheim in NYC, a spiral-ramped building topped by a large skylight. 

marthabirdart.com

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I particularly love working with willow. The process of creating art with this material is complex. It literally takes a year to prepare the materials. I grow and harvest my own willow — six different varieties (colors) each growing to between 6-10 feet tall. I harvest in the winter when it’s dormant and then dry it for a year to prevent shrinkage when I work with it. Then when I’m ready to weave, I soak the rods in a really long soaking tank — 12 feet by 12 inches — for 6-10 days. From there I wrap it in a bed sheet for 24 hours to facilitate further water absorption through a process called “mellowing.” Finally I can then begin the weaving process. The tricky part is that I have to use the soaked willow within a week, as it starts drying right away and cannot be used after drying this second time. Most people don’t realize what goes into making just one sculpture.

See more of Martha’s work on her website www.marthabirdart.com
Or Instagram @marthabirdart

Better yet, stop in and visit Martha in her studio during First Fridays and the St. Paul Art Crawl (April and October).

W2 Works: Innovative Workspace in St. Paul Welcomes Friends of the Mississippi River

In the heart of St. Paul, Minnesota, a new and exciting workspace is making waves, and it’s more than just an office—it’s a thriving center of creativity and innovation. Introducing W2 Works, where St. Paul professionals come together to redefine the future of work. We are truly excited to extend a warm welcome to Friends of the Mississippi River, who have chosen to make our space their home!

More about W2 Works: A Hub for St. Paul Professionals

W2 Works is not your typical workspace; it’s a dynamic environment designed to inspire and empower professionals. Located within the historic Warehouse 2, just south of the picturesque Harriet Island, W2 Works is located at 106 Water Street, St. Paul, Minn.

The Future of Work

As the way we work continues to evolve, W2 Works is at the forefront of this transformation. It’s not just about providing a place to work; it’s about fostering a community where creativity flourishes, collaboration thrives, and innovation knows no bounds. Here’s what you can expect at W2 Works:

Historic Workspace

Step into a historic and thoughtfully designed workspace that adapts to your needs. Whether you need a quiet corner for focused work or a collaborative area for brainstorming sessions, we have it all. W2 Works aims to provide a space that melds history with innovation.

Productivity Boost

W2 Works is more than a physical space; it’s a productivity powerhouse. Our environment is carefully curated to inspire your best work, and our amenities are designed to support your efficiency. Here, amidst the architectural elements that tell a century-old tale, a new generation of business leaders can write their own stories.

Creative Community

W2 Works is part of a dynamic hub of creativity and commerce. With F-O-K Studios catering to local artists. Connect with like-minded professionals who share your passion for innovation. W2 Works is a hub where ideas flow freely, partnerships are forged, and creativity knows no bounds.

Prime Location

Situated in the heart of St. Paul, W2 Works offers convenience like no other. Easy access to downtown St. Paul, proximity to Harriet Island, and stunning river views make this location truly special.

Endless Possibilities

The future of work is about flexibility and adaptability. At W2 Works, you’ll have the freedom to shape your workday, whether you prefer a private office, a shared workspace, or a virtual presence.

Welcome to the future of work at W2 Works, where innovation meets collaboration, and professionals come together to write the next chapter of success. We’re excited to have Friends of the Mississippi River join us on this incredible journey. Together, we’ll redefine what it means to work, create, and thrive.

Friends of the Mississippi River (FMR) engages people to protect, restore and enhance the Mississippi River and its watershed in the Twin Cities region. Learn more about how you can get involved at fmr.org.