Minneapolis Arts Commission Membership
The seventeen member Commission consists of five artists, five arts administrators and seven laypersons with consideration given to geographic distribution, experience in the arts, and connections with the community, ethnic diversity and representation from a range of artistic disciplines. Commission members may be appointed for no more than three consecutive three-year terms. Current Commissioners include:
David Smith was raised with an artist and teacher for a father, so his creativity and love of art was nurtured from a young age. He enjoys learning about, and trying his hand at, all kinds of things, exploring 3D printing, digital art, print making, glass blowing and neon bending. He is employed as a Mechanical Design Engineer with Sleep Number. A lifelong Minneapolis resident, David is a homeowner in Northeast Minneapolis near the Arts District. In his free time he enjoys working on his house, brewing beer, tending a large vegetable garden, and landscaping his yard with native plants and wildflowers.
Lisa Middag is an urban planner who collaborates with communities to support sustainable, vibrant, and walkable public spaces through creative placemaking and community development. Lisa works for the Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District as Director of Nicollet Activation, where she is responsible for developing, directing and implementing an activation framework along the city’s historic pedestrian/transit mall, assuring an inclusive range of cultural experiences for daily users and visitors. She previously worked for Hennepin County Community Works, connecting the Midtown Greenway bicycle trail to nearby cultural and commercial destinations through wayfinding and placemaking. She serves on the board for Springboard for the Arts, is a member of PPS’ placemaking leadership council, serves on the Minneapolis arts commission, and is an Intermedia Arts Creative Community Leadership Institute fellow. She has an M.P.A. in urban and regional planning from the Humphrey School and spent 10 years as the publications director and studio manager at the Walker Art Center.
Mandi Bedbury has been performing as a Dancer and Actor in New York City and Minneapolis for two decades. She started her career teaching dance at North High School in Minneapolis before moving to New York to Dance and Act for the next 14 years. While in New York City she was a backup dancer for Nancy Sinatra in Little Stevie’s Underground Music Festival, could be seen in 1966 (A night at the Whiskey-GoGo), Treasure Island (Manhattan Children’s Theater), and danced with the Notes in Motion Dance Company. In 2006 she transitioned into acting- credits include; Law and Order SVU, Across the Universe, Blood Son, Love Taxi as well as numerous web sketches and commercial work.
Mandi has been an improv artist for the past decade performing sketch and improv in Minneapolis and New York City. She’s had the great pleasure of performing with such artists as Holly Mandel, Radhika Vaz, and Kristin Wig. She is currently performing with the troupe Crumplestiltskin and will be in Strike This! in February 2019 at Strike Theater.
|Dameun Strange||Dameun Strange is an award-winning composer who lives in the Frogtown Community of Saint Paul, MN. An artist, activist and organizer, he is currently the executive director of the Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association where he works to promote and support quality and diversity of artistic resources to benefit artists, art and the greater community. He comes to this position after spending 3 years with the Ron McKinley Philanthropy Fellowship at the Bush Foundation as a program officer with the Community Innovation Program. Dameun was born and raised in Washington, DC but moved to the Twin Cities to attend Macalester College where he majored in Music and English. Dameun has worked locally for such organizations as Macalester College, ACORN, MN UNITED for All Families, Grassroots Solutions, and Neighborhood Organizing; and has served on the board of Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, Compas, Headwater Foundation for Justice, Alternative Motion Project to name a few. Dameun believes the arts has a magical quality in that it can open avenues of discussion, tearing down the walls of misunderstanding. It has the power to tell stories that sometimes go unheard. It has the power to heal, the power to move our communities towards wellness. The arts are a powerful tool in illuminating the threads of intersectionality and recognizing the struggles and triumphs of People of Color, enhancing and American culture that is fully inclusive of all our stories.||3|
Mara Miller is the Adult Program Director for the Minnetonka Center for the Arts (MCFTA) where she plans a full schedule of visual art classes and oversees arts outreach programs. Prior to joining the MCFTA, she served as the Communications and Events Coordinator at the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, where she became familiar with the rich diversity of small to midsize arts organizations in Minneapolis and the 7-county metropolitan region. She is a firm believer in arts advocacy and arts access and has seen firsthand how the arts can build community, spark innovation, and have economic impact. Mara has an MFA in writing for children and young adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts, five books published, and has worked in publishing as a marketing coordinator and curriculum book editor. Her BA is in psychology from Hamline University. Her love of the arts goes back as far as she can remember, attending plays and later high school at the Children’s Theatre Company and visiting art museums wherever she traveled. She regularly enjoys going to art exhibits, music performances, and theater events at venues both large and small throughout the Twin Cities. She has lived in the Cleveland Neighborhood of Minneapolis for more than 23 years in a 1923 Arts and Craft style home where she resides with her husband.
|Erika Dani||Erika Dani is an asset manager for Artspace Projects, Inc., a non-profit organization that uses the tools of real estate development to create affordable, appropriate places where artists can live and work. She oversees the physical and financial health of 7 of Artspace's affordable artist live/work spaces throughout the United States, including some buildings in Minnesota. In addition to leasing and operating live/work spaces for artists, she also leases retail and artist studio space to creative businesses and artists. Erika is also a practicing artist. From 2013-2016, she was in a New Jersey based band. In Minnesota, she paints, collages, and occasionally takes on small roles in small performances. She studied city and regional planning at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy and graduated with a master's degree in city and regional planning in 2015.||4|
|Hannah Gary||Hannah Gary is the Communications and Program Coordinator for the West Broadway Business and Area Coalition. Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, Hannah moved to Minneapolis to pursue graduate degrees in public health and urban planning. Her work focused on the role that the arts and artists play in equitable community development. After finishing graduate school, Hannah interned with Public Art St. Paul and Forecast Public Art on several projects at the intersection of urban planning and the arts. She plans to continue working at this intersection of art, planning, and equitable community development.||5|
David Kang has over 15 years of experience as an independent media consultant, director and producer who has worked in Minneapolis, New York and Seoul. He is currently the principal Creative Consultant and CEO of Hana Media & Development – an independent media development and production firm with the mission of using media and communication strategies to positively impact communities, organizations, and people. Throughout David’s career, he has consistently advocated for the increased visibility of minorities, especially Asians, in media. David is currently a member of the Minneapolis Arts Commission, Northside Arts Leadership Group, Community Shares of MN, and the Asian American & Pacific Health Coalition, as well as several other professional groups.
Adaobi is the executive director and publisher at Twin Cities Media Alliance/Twin Cities Dail Planet, an award-winning online publication focused on amplifying and connecting marginalized voices. She is also the principal strategist at Coloring Circles LLC – a marketing studio in Minneapolis that works primarily with nonprofits, foundations, issue-driven initiatives, and creative entrepreneurs. Often seen as an instigator for thinking of fresh, smart ways for solving problems, Adaobi is passionate about exploring the intersections of multimedia, creativity and innovation, story and activism in her work.
She has been a featured guest speaker on MPR News’ discussion about Black Lives Matter and media, The Loft Literary Center’s Curated By series on African women writers, The Common Table’s Writing and Art for Justice, and Pollen’s Work Redux: Influence and Voice. Originally hailing from Nigeria, Adaobi is also known as a writer, visual and performance artist, and creative producer. She has been a contributing artist to Sha Cage’s and Signe Harriday’s MaMa mOsAic—where she was featured in critically-acclaimed Blacker the Berry ensemble and exhibit at Intermedia Arts – and is Givens Foundation Black Writers Collaborative alum.
Melinda Ludwiczak is a project manager for MELSA, an alliance of metro area public libraries, where she is responsible for programs and projects supported through the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. She works with staff at 100 public libraries to plan, implement and evaluate literary programs, performances, visual arts, cultural activities and history programs. A Minneapolis resident for nearly 40 years, Melinda loves her Kingfield Neighborhood, especially the Kingfield Farmers Market she helped establish. She combines her information skills and love of gardening as a Hennepin County Master Gardener volunteer. After a long Minnesota winter, Melinda makes an annual visit to Santa Fe every spring to absorb the sun, museums, arts, culture and breathtaking scenery.
|Dr. Lawrence Benson||Dr. Lawrence D. Benson, PhD, MFA, is a Philosophical Practitioner/Coach specializing in Somaesthetics with emphasis on movement and creativity. He has twenty-seven years of experience in Health and Wellness including as a Certified Instructor in many class formats, Group Exercise Program Coordinator, and Group Exercise Trainer and Presenter. Dr. Benson is also a Movement Expressionist/Dancer/Choreographer who cannot remember a time in his life when he was not dancing. He learned to dance at Zenon Dance Company and School in Minneapolis, where he studied modern, hip hop, tap, and African dance. Likewise, he cannot remember a time when he was not singing: to the radio, in church, in every level of school choir and opera/musical theater, in voice lessons, and to his original songs. He got his vocal roots from his Grandmom Louise, and he studied Voice at DePauw University and at TCVA (Twin Cities Vocal Arts) in Minneapolis. He is the artist/producer known as ‘speyeskool’ and ‘TheFlyyProfessa’, and has music available on various streaming platforms including iTunes Music and Spotify.|
Dr. Benson holds a BA in History from DePauw University and a MFA in Writing with concentrations in fiction and poetry from Hamline University. He also holds a PhD with a major in Humanities and Culture from Union Institute and University, an interdisciplinary doctorate with a minor concentration in Ethical and Creative Leadership. He is a mentor in the MPWW (Minnesota Prison Writers Workshop). His books are available on the internet. Dr. Benson is an Adjunct Member of the APPA (American Philosophical Practitioners Association)
|Joan Vorderbruggen||Joan Vorderbruggen is the Director of Public Art and Placemaking for Hennepin Theatre Trust. Her role includes creating opportunities for local and international artists to activate Hennepin Avenue in downtown Minneapolis. In 2013, Joan developed and implemented Made Here, a project which pairs Minnesota-based artists work with vacant commercial storefronts. Made Here is the largest storefront initiative of its kind in the nation, now in its ninth iteration having featured work by nearly 400 artists in more than 300 vacant storefronts across 15 city blocks. In the fall of 2015, Joan worked with internationally renowned Brazilian street artist Eduardo Kobra and his team to create a five-story mural of Bob Dylan. She has since led the creation of four additional large scale murals including a mosaic art vertical garden. In spring of 2016, she pursued and was awarded a “Heart of the Community” grant from Southwest Airlines to work with Project for Public Spaces creating the 5 to 10 on Hennepin initiative. Joan is a founding member of the Placemaking Leadership Council, serves on the Board of Directors for Forecast Public Art, Minneapolis Mad Dads, and Salvation Army Harbor Light. In 2017 she completed the year long Ethical Redevelopment Salon program led by Place Lab and the University of Chicago and was named a National Arts Strategies Creative Community Fellow.||10|
Calvin Keasling is an active Twin Cities Musician and the lead Arts Administrator for Minneapolis Public Schools. He is an advocate for arts education, arts integration, and increased arts experiences for preK - 12 grade students, and believes strongly that the creative process transforms lives for the better. As an arts administrator he has organized and planned citywide performances and art exhibits. As a commissioner Calvin is looking to increase music and other art venues for South Mpls residents. Calvin loves how Mpls artists come together in collaboration, and he is excited to see more dancers, actors, musicians, and visual artists come together in collaborative presentations and performances.
|George Slade||George Slade lives in south Minneapolis and has been involved in the visual arts for over forty years as a curator, writer, consultant, and grants administrator. He is currently the director of TC Photo, a non-profit in the Seward neighborhood dedicated to providing meaningful programs that connect photographic artists and Twin Cities audiences. He has an undergraduate degree in American Studies from Yale University and a graduate degree in Organizational Leadership from St. Catherine University.||11|
For more information contact Tina Beech, 612-673-3242.
Last updated Jan 14, 2019