Tuesday, January 15, 2013

I'd Like Public Art That Isn't So Depressing (Before I Die)

Post and photo by the Hawthorne Hawkman.

On the corner of Penn and Lowry a multi-paneled chalkboard has been erected, with the inscription "Before I Die."  I'm not sure exactly what the sponsors or creators were going for, but it feels to me like they really missed the mark.  Is this meant to be uplifting or inspiring?  Because...no, it's not, really.  There are other ways to describe goals we want to accomplish in our lives.  "Bucket list" comes to mind, and while that might not be something younger people use, it at least conveys a sense of a full life and dying of old age and hanging out with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson.  Or is the display meant to draw our attention to the fact that people are indeed dying in our community?  If that's its intent then it should almost be MORE stark in making such a point.

Among the people I've talked to about the sign, there has been a pretty consistent response:  "What's that on the corner?  'Before I die'?  Why is that...oh, because this is north Minneapolis, where there have been, how many homicides now?"  On the bright side, after seeing this sign I have no need to go home and watch the death of Artax in "The Neverending Story."  (Come on, fellow nerds, you know this is the most depressing scene in cinematic history.)

I'm piling on here and I really don't mean to be overly critical.  It's clear the intent behind this is good.  But couldn't we have had an inscription like, "In my life, I want to..." instead?


  1. How can you be overly critical of a morbidly black sign inferring that nothing good will happen here or that it will take so long that we might be dead?

    I thought maybe it was sponsored by that mortuary down the street.

    Who the hell put this much effort into producing this? Don't we already send enough short term gratification messages to our youth?

    1. The sign says it was put together by the Cleveland neighborhood. And I do have a soft spot for well-intentioned neighborhood group initiatives. Even ones that don't work out to well.

  2. I heard a lot of off-color remarks were written at one point and somebody from the Cleveland Neighborhood Association had to go out there and clean up and erase.

    On another topic, BEFORE I DIE I'D LIKE TO...

    Sample the amazing "insect cuisine" of Southeast Asia in the place where it is produced.


  3. The "soft spot" of the Cleveland Neighborhood Organization must be between their ears!

  4. It looks like the same mural was done near the Mpls Institute of Arts. See link below for the article in MinnPost.

    Still don't like it.


  5. So, it's unoriginal as well as morbid and depressing!

  6. This is so typical of Cleveland. Could the efforts be spent in a more productive way? Come on people. I'd like to see something more uplifting that doesn't associate death with North Minneapolis.

  7. Who owns the property that sign is on? Shouldn't they bear some of the responsibility?

  8. What money paid for that dam sign anyways. Such a waste! Couldn't the money have been used on something more useful!!!!!!!

  9. ....before i die i would like to see certain people quit blaming others for their own racist ways and admit they are the worst, are pathetic, and hate themselves at the expense of the rest of us....

  10. The most recent North News has an article re: this display.

  11. I noticed this was removed from the property....any idea about what might be going up in its place?

  12. And...now it's back. What the heck?


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