Longfellow Community Council

Solace at the Palace: Creating community connection through art


Art has the ability to bind people to places and to each other – and on a beautiful Sunday in June, over 700 members of our community came together at Solace at the Palace to make art, connect with neighbors, and explore a piece of our local arts and music scene.
Solace at the Palace was a free day of interactive community art with 20 artist vendors, three musical performances, art workshops, and art projects for all in the courtyard of Moon Palace Books. Our community is resilient, we’ve found ways to support each other through a global pandemic and the destruction caused by the uprisings following the murder of George Floyd. We wanted to find a way to support our community’s healing process and bring joy to a space that holds a lot of trauma for our community. Art is a great anodyne.
And there was so much joy! And so much art! It was clear that everyone from workshop artists, vendors, musicians, and attendees were having fun. Around 120 people came to a free workshop where all materials were provided. The six workshops included printmaking, collage, fabric journals, needle felting, leather working and making a clay neighborhood. Art isn’t always accessible to everyone, supplies can be expensive, classes can be difficult to schedule, so we wanted to provide the opportunity for people to try out something new, awaken their creativity, and share stories and experiences that we can’t always articulate.
“It was a great way to connect to the community and find a new hobby!” one attendee said.
During the workshops, we saw people exchange numbers, while talking about their project and making plans to continue to create together. Connecting with people can feel really hard, especially as an adult, and especially after years of isolation has imparted upon each of us in various ways. Connection was a central tenant to the creation of this event. There were Somali and Spanish translators for the workshops in an effort to make sure that no one felt excluded from the process.
Despite us all knowing that art is at the heart of life, art is often undervalued. Part of our mission was to compensate and care for all artists that were participating in the events and to focus on emerging artists. Minneapolis has such a robust and talented community of artists.
“The generosity showed to the vendors at this event from everyone here and the organizers has been so wonderful,” one of the artist vendors said.
“​​I loved it, the classes, the art fair, and the inspiring energetic music and venue!”
And no event would be complete without a soundtrack. The musicians and emcee did an incredible job and had people dancing and swaying. Emcee Biig Miic Brooks provided some of his own beats between creating a welcoming environment and introducing the musical performers. Wynn Rivers took the middle spot and entertained the crowd with folk numbers. Carolyne Naomi with special guest RION brought soul and funk while signing about justice, love and equality. Several people came up to me and asked about who was performing or bought CDs or followed the musicians on social media. People connecting and engaging with new artists was an intention of the event.
My favorite part of the event was the community art project, which was using embroidery floss to weave through nails on a board. Watching it transform from what looked like a simple woodworking project to an art piece throughout the day was so fun. It was great to watch people of all ages engage with it - from ages 3 to 80. There were also free arts projects for kids and the kids at heart to paint, make friendship bracelets, create temporary tattoos and more. One of our volunteers said she felt like she made so many new friends at the art tables. She was able to hear people’s stories and relate to them.
Community stories and our connection to place was a part of the indigo and water weaving project of Sarah Nassif, working with the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization, to use water from the Mississippi River to dye fabric strips with indigo that were then weaved on a loom into a tapestry. We learned about the resources that are used to create fabrics, clothing, and the impact that it has on our environment.
We did several surveys last year and the community was resounding in their call for more festivals, more chances to connect and more arts opportunities. We are all creative and as a community, we have the opportunity to create the beauty we want to see and can build it together.
Thanks to all the people who experienced this event with us – attendees, artists, vendors, food trucks, musicians, poster artist Pablo Kalata, and Moon Palace Books for letting us use the space. Thanks to the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council and the City of Minneapolis for funding this event. We hope to see you next year!


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