A three-alarm fire gutted the Roberts Shoes building on May 27. Star Tribune photo by Leila Navidi.
Twin Citians are rallying around the artists who suffered losses when fire swept through the Roberts Shoe building Sunday in Minneapolis. Some of the things that got destroyed were irreplaceable, including artworks and videos.
“All the pictures, all the memories from 1994 when I came to America as a professional dancer — gone,” said René Thompson, a Cuban-American artist who was caretaker of the building and had an apartment there. Thompson leads a Cuban dance troupe. “I won’t give up and will continue bringing happiness to people with dance and music, but it’s a hard moment.”
But some things can be replaced, including DJ equipment and art supplies.
An online fundraising campaign has been created for Thompson as well as for other artists. There is an overall Robert's Shoes Displacement Fund campaign to help all the affected artists that was created by film-maker and artist Alex Uhrich. By midday Wednesday, that campaign had raised $13,250 toward its $50,000 goal.
There are individual campaigns as well, including ones for photographer Sean Smuda — a longtime Roberts resident who operated the Shoebox Galery and, more recently, Persig Projects — visual artist Joy Spika and Michelle Barnes, a DJ who goes by the handle Michel.Be.
Barnes lost a $1,500 controller that she purchased months ago. “I used it for 80 percent of my gigs,” she said. “The irony is that it was in a shared studio space because I wanted to share it as a way to give back to the community.”
There are other campaigns as well, including for DJ U, a collective that teaches vulnerable populations including queer and people of color, the art of mixing music.