Strolling on the Mall

Lughnasa                                           Full Artemis Moon

Downtown Minneapolis, along the Nicollet Mall, has a lot of art, as Glen Keitel showed a group of 15 or so this afternoon.  We started with shadow portraits made of loonbronze and cast into the sidewalk.  They were commemorations of various political struggles including the 1934 truckers strike, Nellie Stone Johnson’s political career and a moving tribute to a Dakota woman.  Across the street from them at Westminster Presbyterian a Paul Granlund cast three humans up and heavenward from geometric forms all cast in bronze.  We walked a long ways, over two hours, and the leg on which I ruptured my achilles took to aching.

A surprising number (to me) of restaurants downtown now have sidewalk dining and there were plenty of people out and about.  A fun afternoon.

There was, too, as there always is in a major downtown, desperate people pleading for attention, for money.  One woman stood with a sign that said she was 7 months pregnant; another man asked me to roll down my window on the way home.  A few sat heads down, clothes tattered, a look of dejection covering them in gloom.

There are now many theories about the mall, whether it was a good idea or whether it has stagnated downtown, taking the liveliness out of it.  Should we fix it by allowing cars?  Should we close it altogether?  What worried me was the number of businesses with store fronts, but no display windows and several buildings with papered over glass and graffiti.

It is city life, flux, humanity at its richest and most callous, humanity at its poorest and most demeaned, the impermanent made to seem solid and stable amidst the signs of constant change and the flow, always the flow, of paper and food and metal and goods, in and out, as the people flow too, making paths that do not last on streets that will not either.

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