Molly Priesmeyer is the co-owner of Good Work Group, a creative and storytelling consultancy dedicated to helping mission-driven businesses and organizations succeed. Her stories on culture, the arts, and the environment have appeared in the Star Tribune; Pioneer Press; Minneapolis St. Paul Magazine; Rolling Stone; MinnPost; and others. She's been working on her novel, "Why Me? A Martyr's Guide to Live," since 5th grade. She can be reached at

Posts about Minneapolis South

What's in your alley? The secrets that lurk behind us

Posted by: Molly Priesmeyer Updated: May 14, 2014 - 6:07 PM

If Twin Cities alleyways were a reflection of the psyche, they would probably be called the tenebris umbra umbram. Which is really just a fancy Jungian way of saying the "dark shadow's dark shadow." Or something like it, probably. 

It's the middle of May, yet our sleepy backstreets are shame graveyards for Christmas trees now burnt by the sun and dead leaves we couldn't muster the energy to rake away in October.

But like any true aspect of self, those old shame and rubbish routes also hold hidden gems: Scattered artworks that pop up like tiny clues to a bigger mystery. 

Shhh!….don't tell anyone about this secret  (Alley art in South Minneapolis)

Along alleyways in South Minneapolis, broken-down garages and microwave-oven remains become canvases for paintings and sculptures —humble little expressions that don't feel comfortable making grand public appearances.

You'd be sad, too, if someone left a cigarette in you (Alley art in South Minneapolis)

Cities across the world boast beautiful street and alley art, often in the form of murals, like Balmy Alley in San Francisco, which became an expression of political unrest in Central America in the 1980s and served to further the Chicano mural art movement. 

But what's unique about alley art in the Twin Cities, and in this case Powderhorn Park, are the peculiar stories told through these little artworks left to live behind us. Within a 10-block radius, I discovered more than two dozen pieces of alley art, from paintings hung on garages to sculptures strung from poles. 

This garage painting is the perfect place for a Dr. Suess button (Alley art in South Minneapolis) 

What do these artworks few people see say about our neighborhoods? What do they say about the person who placed it there? What do they say about us? What do they say about discovery? Am I the only weirdo who likes to walk her dog in alleys? Does this kind of thing happen in Hoboken? Are these really secret messages for some sort of alley Freemasons and now I'm really in trouble?

Two birds, one garage (Alley art in South Minneapolis)

Bird meme seeks meme (Alley art in South Minneapolis) 

Choose your own art-venture (Alley art in South Minneapolis)

Let's bolt (Alley art in South Minneapolis) 

See the light (Alley art in South Minneapolis)

Artist and writer Andy Sturdevant recently embarked on a collaborative open-source project to name every alley in Minneapolis. So far, nearly every alley has been named, mostly by the shared experiences of people who live along them. (Strangely, none are named tenebris umbra umbram.)

Now we can finally say we live somewhere between "Opossum Trail" and "Hope and Dreams Way," and just a toad's jump from "Sorry It's Been So Long Alley."  And, for those lucky enough to explore these strange passageways, that the hidden artworks and stories the alleys hold are just as unique their name.  

What's in your alley? Put on your shoes and go out and explore. Be sure to come back and tell me about what you find! I'd love to hear your alley story. 

MayDay Parade: What happens in Minneapolis when the sun comes out

Posted by: Molly Priesmeyer Updated: May 5, 2014 - 10:09 AM

At some parades, first ladies and firefighters and football players make guest appearances. At the MayDay Parade in Powderhorn Park, Pete Seeger is the surprise guest--all 12 feet of him, his giant smiling visage reaching as high as the barely-there-but-still-there tree buds. 

For 40 years, Powderhorn Park in South Minneapolis has hosted the annual MayDay Parade from the In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre (HOBT), whose home straddles the Powderhorn and Phillips neighborhoods.  

"The spring of 1975 was our first MayDay Festival," write the organizers. "Our original impetus for this Festival was quite simple. We wanted to give a gift to the community that was supporting our theatre, and to create a celebration that would bring people together out of their homes at the end of winter."

And bring people out it did. If you aren't from here and you've ever wondered what happens at MayDay when the mercury hits 50 and a few of the sun's rays finally peek out from hibernation, I can tell you that thousands of sweaters get torn off bodies like they're on fire as people gather to blink up at the flameball in the sky. And that the strange feet of Minnesotans, once encased for half the year in hulking boots, become bifurcated by flip-flops-- often dressed up with a winter coat or down vest. 

The artistry and attendance of the MayDay parade and festival may have changed over the last four decades, but its unique spirit hasn't. TPT has a great video from the first parade and festival in 1975. People interviewed for the video 40 years ago say they came out to celebrate working people, and the annual arrival of the sun.

According to Sandy Spieler, the artistic director at HOBT, over the years people have asked to have their loved ones' ashes spread on the shores of Powderhorn Lake during the festival. MayDay, in many ways, continues to define the Powderhorn neighborhood and the 8,500 or so people who call it home. 

While the parade happened in the streets, some people gathered online to share their photos and stories. Below are a few of the best from Twitter.




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