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Artists + Community Planners


Joe Bernard, Senior Planner: Joe supports land use and transportation planning and implementation throughout Minneapolis, with special focus on the West Bank area. Joe’s recent projects include Cedar Avenue Pedestrian and Bicycle improvements and the Historical Capstone project.

Roger Cummings is a founding principal of Juxtaposition Arts, a visual art and cultural social enterprise center that mentors youth and engages community members in inner city Minneapolis. Cummings explores new ways to create relationships between people and place through art, design, entrepreneurship, and collective wealth building activity. Cummings’ work utilizes and at the same time pushes the direction of urban visual expression and places great value on creating works of art in public and private spaces that have personal and impersonal uses and provide meaningful interactions for people. Roger has lectured and conducted workshops about his work at the Walker Art Center, Weisman Art Museum, Lincoln Land Institute, and the University of Minnesota. He studied at Harvard University Graduate School of Design as a Loeb Fellow where he explored new ways of reenergizing neglected urban neighborhoods through artistic interventions, people-centric design, and creative models of cooperative housing and business development.

Beth Elliott, Principal Planner: Beth coordinates a variety of Downtown planning initiatives to maintain consistency with the city’s long-range planning policies. She partners with community and inter-agency stakeholders to address land use issues, redevelopment, and public improvements as well as to develop small area.  Beth has a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning from the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.  She is a member of the American Planning Association and the Urban Land Institute as well as certified through the American Institute of Certified Planners.

Samuel Babatunde Ero-Phillips developed an interest in exploring society through visual arts at a young age. His passion for visual arts as a child matured into a desire to analyze society by studying architecture and studio arts as an undergraduate at the University of Minnesota. Through early exposure to different geographical environments, he developed his perspectives as a designer. He was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. However, he spent the first four years of his life in Nigeria with his family. In 1972, his Yoruba father moved from Nigeria to attend college in America. After graduating, he married Samuel’s mother and started a family. The family moved back to Nigeria, where they lived until 1987. Since then, he has visited many times and has lived there off and on for the last two years to pursue his research goals. The vast differences between Minneapolis, a well-planned American city punctuated with quiet neighborhoods, interesting architecture, and parks, and Lagos, Nigeria, a post-colonial African city stifled with slum dwellings and poverty, helped him to understand the role of architecture in defining the stark social inequalities that exist in these disparate environments. He is committed to promoting multi-faceted community based solutions to address social inequalities. For his Master’s thesis project in the architecture department at the University of Illinois, he developed a mixed use primary school/community center and curriculum for college students and residents in Igbogun village in Ogun state, Nigeria to promote job creation using sustainable design. Currently, he is pursuing a doctorate in Sustainable Development at the University of Lagos to establish a micro-business at the educational facility and allow his project to serve as a case study for other villages within the region. His future plans include partnering with Juxtaposition Arts to create an educational exchange program between African American youth and other underserved communities of color in Minneapolis and youth in Nigeria.

Ashley Hanson received her Master of Arts degree in Applied Theatre at the University of Manchester, UK, where she focused on the role of theatre in the sustainable development of communities. For the past ten years, she has facilitated, written and directed theater and arts-based programs with many different communities and organizations. Ashley’s work is focused on uniting individuals through exploring collective narratives in accessible performances. Her most recent project, Granite Falls: A Meandering River Walk, explored the complicated and symbiotic relationship the town has with the Minnesota River (one of the most polluted in the state) and was performed by local actors and musicians. Ashley’s place- and issue-based work strives to reconnect individuals with their shared values, and in turn, inspire stewardship of their community. Her projects show shared knowledge paired with collective action can move a community from “where they are” to “where they want to be.” She recently worked as the Program Director for Public Art Saint Paul, where she managed multiple public arts programs; most notably, Wing Young Huie’s The University Avenue Project, one of the largest public art exhibitions in the nation for 2010. She is accustomed to serving as a liaison among artists, city departments and the community. She calls herself an “Arts Enabler,” working with artists and organizations on the “unsexy” part of the arts – administration and organization – to bring abstract visions into concrete productions. Ashley has received fellowships from the Creative Community Leadership Institute and the National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture. She is also a founding member of the Yes!Lets Collective of Twin-Cities artists, musicians and community enthusiasts, and she plays ukulele and sings in three folk/Americana bands.

Wing Young Huie has been photographing the dizzying socioeconomic and cultural realities of American society, much of it centered on the urban cores of his home state of Minnesota. Although his work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, his most well-known projects are large-scale public installations, including Frogtown (1995), Lake Street USA (2000) and The University Avenue Project (2010), which transformed major Twin Cities’ thoroughfares into epic photo galleries, reflecting the everyday lives of thousands of its citizens in the midst of some of the most diverse concentrations of international immigrants in the country. In 2000 the Minneapolis Star Tribune named Wing “Artist of the Year,” saying “Lake Street USA is likely to stand as a milestone in the history of photography and public art.” The resulting book was also hailed by the Star Tribune as one of 25 great books ever published about Minnesota. His five published books are: The University Avenue Project, Volume 1 (2010); The University Avenue Project Volume 2 (2010); Looking For Asian American: An Ethnocentric Tour (2007); Lake Street USA (2001) and Frogtown: Photographs and Conversations in an Urban Neighborhood (1996). Wing has conducted hundreds of lectures and workshops throughout the country and internationally to audiences of all kinds, including K-12 classrooms, colleges, museums, non-profits, and corporations, engaging participants with his many photographic projects that reflect America’s dizzying and changing cultural landscape; providing a collective window and mirror of the them who are really us. The Third Place, a gallery that Wing opened in 2012 on the corner of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in South Minneapolis, furthers his concepts of using art as a community-building catalyst. Once a month events are held, featuring artists and thinker from a wide array of disciplines mediums who engage in a salon-style discussion with the audience, followed by ping-pong and karaoke.

Caroline Kent earned her BS from the IL State University and her MFA from the University of Minnesota. She served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Romania from 2000-2002. Currently she is a practicing artist residing in the Twin Cities working through various mediums of painting, sculpture and video. She is the recipient of the Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant and was a 2009 Jerome Fellow. She co-runs an artist run exhibition space called The Bindery Projects and is an art Instructor at Juxtaposition Arts, a progressive urban arts organization.

Haila Maze, Principal Planner:  Haila coordinates long range planning for Northeast and Southeast Minneapolis. She has a background in comprehensive, transportation, and regional planning, with over 15 years of experience as a professional planner. She has worked at regional and city levels as a planner, as well as in nonprofit community development.

Paul Mogush, Principal Planner: Paul Mogush coordinates long-range planning activities for the south sector of the city, which includes the neighborhood stations of the Hiawatha LRT line. Paul’s recent projects include a land use planning process for Chicago Avenue in the Phillips Community and rezoning efforts along the Midtown Greenway and the Hiawatha corridor.

Brian Schaffer, Principal Planner: Brian Schaffer coordinates the long-range planning initiatives in the southwest sector of the city.  His current work includes partnering with community and inter-agency stakeholders addressing land use issues and public improvements. Brian’s past project have been focused on preserving and enhancing neighborhood character through a variety of efforts.

Witt Siasoco has been actively engaged in the Minneapolis Arts Community through a variety of roles – as artist, designer, arts educator and arts administrator. His strengths include a deep understanding of the creative process, the ability to navigate complex organizational structures, and building and fostering partnerships. As an artist he has created a variety of projects initiated by questions posed in his immediate community. For the past 10 years he has owned a home in the Holland Neighborhood in Northeast Minneapolis. Condemned and abandoned properties are one byproduct of the housing crisis that has affected his neighborhood. The Department of Change, a handmade realty sign and accompanying brochure, was produced in response to an abandoned property on his block. The project was created to highlight the condemned status of the house, spur further discussion amongst neighbors, and encourage viewers to take action. Currently Siasoco is Art Coordinator at the Canvas, a youth-run teen arts center. The Canvas is a partnership between COMPAS and Saint Paul Parks and Recreation. For over a decade, Siasoco worked with the Walker Art Center Teen Arts Council (WACTAC), a visionary program designed to connect teenagers with contemporary art and artists. Today, the Walker’s Teen Programs serves as an international model for alternative education formats both within museums and cultural centers. Formerly, Siasoco worked as a coordinator of the Young Artist Cabaret at Intermedia Arts, a monthly open mic for young artists and a Grantmakers in the Arts Assistant for Arts Midwest, a regional arts organization.  Siasoco also served as a board member of Juxtaposition Arts, a North Minneapolis arts organization that empowers youth and community to use the arts to actualize their full potential. In 2008, Siasoco was recognized by the Americans for the Arts as an Emerging Leader of Color. He has presented numerous conferences including the American Association of Museums Annual Meeting, Museums and the Web Conference, National Guild for Community Arts Education’s Engaging Adolescents Conference, and the National Art Education Association Conference.

Jim Voll, Principal Planner: Jim’s main focus is to coordinate of a wide variety of planning initiatives on the city’s north side to maintain consistency with the city’s long range planning policies.  His work includes partnering with community and inter-agency stakeholders addressing land use issues and public improvements as well as to develop small area plans for the north sector of the city.  Jim has a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  He is a member of the American Planning Association and the USGBC.

Diane Willow is a multi-modal artist and creative catalyst. Seemingly divergent perspectives converge in her practice of art as a socially engaged mode of tuning our attention to ephemeral experiences in everyday places. Working at the nexus of art and technology, science, and architecture, she uses hybrid media to explore the poetic dynamics of nature, technology and community. She exhibits her public installations, interactive environments and evocative objects internationally and nationally, presenting each as an invitation to engage people in multisensory explorations as participants and choreographers rather than simply as viewers. Diane is the recipient of an invitational Osher Fellowship at the Exploratorium, an institute-wide appointment as Artist in Residence at MIT, a residential fellowship at the University of Minnesota’s Institute for Advanced Studies, and is a Visiting Associate Professor at the MIT Media Lab. She has been invited to speak about her work in diverse contexts including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Society for Cultural Anthropology, Beijing Film Academy, Digital Provocations Symposium, Studio XX, and Subtle Technologies Festival. Originally from New England, she and her spouse Joanne Jones-Rizzi moved from their home in Cambridge, Massachusetts when Diane joined the University of Minnesota faculty. Currently Associate Professor in the Department of Art, her research, teaching, and collaborations explore experimental media, new genres, and expanded concepts of the public. By necessity and passion she has initiated and participates in new forms of interdisciplinary collaboration and is delighted to contribute to Creative CityMaking in Minneapolis.