The Day Marvin Gaye Died

Emmanuel Ortiz performing spoken word at a January 2013 Lowertown Reading Jam. (Illustration: Ta-coumba Aiken/

Every generation has its historical moments
Of collective grief and disbelief
Moments we forever remember
Exactly where we were when . . .

The deaths of Kennedy, King, Clemente
The space shuttle Challenger explosion
When the planes hit the towers on 9/11...

What's in a Name?

Yusef Mgeni (Photo courtesy Metropolitan State University)

Growing up as young Black men in Saint Paul’s Rondo neighborhood, we learned a lot from the generation of Black men who preceded us. We, like they before us, were simply known as “the Rondo boys.” Rondo was where we learned to survive, to grow and develop—it was where we learned the value of our extended family membership, where we fell in love and got our hearts broken. It was also where we learned what’s in a name.

Union Depot highlights Lowertown artists from the 2014 Saint Paul Almanac


The Union Depot, the restored transportation hub and key Lowertown landmark, is featuring the 2014 Saint Paul Almanac in a display inside its entrance hall. The latest edition of the Almanac features artwork by many Lowertown artists including Ken and Roberta Avidor, Ta-coumba Aiken, Michael McColl, Chad Hambright, Sarah Marie Wash, Josh and Amy Hosterman, Patrick McCutchen, Tom Dunn, Serena Mira Asta, Frank Brown, Rachel Whacker, Alex Kuno, Shelley Rolhf, Kristi Abbott. Tom Reynen, Tom McGregor, Lisa Mathieson, Mike Hazard, and Nigel Parry.

Photostory: Mizna at the Lowertown Reading Jam

Fancy Mizna Instagram posted during the event. Follow mizna_arabart on Instagram.

Mizna brought a diverse group of established and emerging writers and performers to the Lowertown Reading Jam stage. With that Homeland Security dictum "if you see something, say something" ringing in their ears, Mizna’s group of Arab American and Muslim writers gave voice to their own experience of diverse homelands. The evening was hosted by performance artist and Mizna rep Moheb Soliman, who presented his own work along with the work of Robert Farid Karimi, Kathryn Haddad, Nimo Farah, Willie Nour, Niny Salem, Jna Shelomith, Sarah Thamer and percussionist Khaldoun Samman.

Photostory: Help Saint Paul break a Guinness World Record!


I had a meeting with Kimberly Nightingale in Lowertown two weeks ago and, sure enough, we got invited to play around with a Hasbro toy from our youth. Ta-coumba Aiken is the talent behind the world’s largest (they are going for the world record) Lite-Brite sculpture planned for the Union Depot. I am told that the bright sculpture will measure 9 x 27 feet and illuminate some 570,000 tiny blue, green, pink and red transparent pegs.