Artists and community leaders commemorate the fifth anniversary of the I-35W Bridge collapse

To mark the fifth anniversary of the collapse of the I-35W Bridge, Twin Cities artists and community leaders will hold a public gathering to reflect on how that day transformed lives and our community. The event, called Bridge: A Gathering, will be held at 5:45 p.m. Aug. 1 in the Ruins Courtyard of Mill City Museum. Following the event, an exhibition called Bridge, which features photographs by artist Vance Gellert, will open and will be on view at the museum through December 2012.     

Bridge: A Gathering will feature a photographic exhibition of Gellert’s work, which is the culmination of a two-year project in which Gellert interviewed and photographed the survivors, first responders and others closely associated with the bridge collapse. In addition, the interviews have been shared with several Twin Cities artists who have been commissioned to create short works intended to reflect on the experiences of those who were a part of and witnessed the tragedy. Nautilus Music Theater, The Playwrights’ Center, and Rain Taxi Review of Books have commissioned artists to create a musical composition, a ten-minute play, and five poems, respectively, which will be presented alongside remarks by public officials including Mayor R.T. Rybak. The event will be emceed by broadcast journalist and entrepreneur Robyne Robinson.

The Aug. 1 event is free and open to the public, but reservations must be made to secure a ticket by sending an email to bridge.agathering@gmail.com or by calling 612-673-2032.

Followingthe gathering, the audience will be invited to a reception and the official opening of Gellert’s exhibition, Bridge. In addition to portraits of and a selection of quotes from the survivors and first responders, photographs of the remains of the bridge girders – twisted metal that was transformed into sculptural objects in the 13 seconds that it took for the bridge to collapse – will be included in the exhibition.  

Commissioned Artists

The 10-minute play, commissioned by The Playwrights’ Center and directed by its Producing Artistic Director Jeremy B. Cohen, was written by playwright Trista Baldwin. The play will be read by actors Terry Hempleman, Greta Oglesby, Sun Mee Chomet, and Ricardo Vazquez; Dan Piering will perform on cello. 

Composer Ralph Johnson and writer Bill Corbett have written a 10-minute musical piece that was commissioned by Nautilus Music Theater. Singers Bradley Greenwald, Susan Hofflander, Joel Liestman, and Jennifer Baldwin Peden will be featured along with a small chorus. The work is directed by Nautius’ Artistic Director Ben Krywosz; music director is Jerry Rubino. 

Rain Taxi Review of Books commissioned seven poets to create works including Steve Healey, Deborah Keenan, Jim Moore, Jude Nutter, Matt Rasmussen, Joyce Sutphen, and Katrina Vanderberg. The artists used as inspiration for their work the photographs of and interviews conducted with the survivors and first responders done by artist Vance Gellert.

The memorial project was organized to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the collapse by engaging both with the community of survivors and first responders through the stories they have shared, which address the many facets of the bridge collapse, its human cost, and its broader impact on the community at large. Since the 2007 collapse, the office of Mayor R.T. Rybak has produced an annual memorial event. By broadening the commemoration this year, the exhibition and event will allow a greater number of Minnesotans to participate in a remembrance event and reflect on the catastrophe in a public space with fellow Minnesotans.

Bridge: A Gathering is presented in partnership with the City of Minneapolis’ Office of the Mayor and City Coordinator’s Office, the Mill City Museum, Nautilus Music Theater, The Playwrights’ Center, Rain Taxi Review of Books, and artist Vance Gellert. Funding for this project has been provided by the Minnesota Historical Society through a grant made possible by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment.  Additional support for the exhibition is provided in part by a Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant made to Vance Gellert. The exhibition, Bridge, will be on view at the Mill City Museum Aug. 1 through December 2012. The exhibit will be located in the museum’s central lobby, and it is free to view.  For museum hours, go to www.millcitymuseum.org.

Published Jul 16, 2012