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Candida Gonzalez and Mary Anne Quiroz,
Radical Playground


For more Northern Spark 2019 images, visit our flickr album here.  Watch our videos here: Northern Spark 2019.

The winner of the 2019 Creative City Challenge is Radical Playground, a participatory art installation by Candida Gonzalez and Mary Anne Quiroz.

During the summer of 2019 on The Commons, participants will be invited to “heal through play” with whimsical interactive alebrije: animal sculptures inspired by dream creatures from the Caribbean, Mexico, the Pacific Islands and the indigenous cultures of Minnesota. Radical Playground will debut on The Commons June 14 as part of Northern Spark. The art will remain on The Commons through August 2019 for a summer of everyday interaction and special programming events in July and August.

On Friday night only, there will be an opening performance by Radical Playground.

The artists intend Radical Playground to invite Indigenous communities and communities of color to a space where they feel free to gather, to play, to heal. They want their project to bring a feeling of play, of free joy, of giving people’s bodies a break from stress and worry.

The outer posts are topped alternately by alebrijes and flowers representing the four directions. Four “selfie” panels anchor the four direction posts at the bottom and invite people to become alebrijes themselves as they put their faces in the panel cutouts. The color palette is bright and tropical for exciting, colorful viewing from long distances. Solar lights will create a magical nighttime experience.

Puerto Rican native of South Minneapolis, Candida Gonzalez studied Latin American Art and History at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA, and went on to get her M.Ed. at The University of Minnesota in 2003. She is passionate about education, community engagement through the arts and equitable arts access. She approaches her work by centering at the intersection of art, activism, healing and personal/community empowerment. She is deeply invested in the concept of using art and community design as tools to wage love and healing.

Mary Anne Quiroz was born in the Philippines and immigrated to the United States in 1989. She is an ​artist organizer and community activator. ​She is a Co-Founder/Co-Director of Kalpulli Yaocenoxtli, a traditional Mexican Aztec dance and drum group that she founded with her husband, Sergio Quiroz in 2006. Quiroz is also Co-Founder/Co-Director of Indigenous Roots Cultural Arts Center where she and a collective of artists ​provide culturally relevant space and programming opportunities that promote and practice holistic well being through indigenous arts, culture and activism. As a passionate advocate of ancestral knowledge and traditions, Quiroz believes that arts and culture is a vehicle for economic development.

As co-founder of the traditional Mexica Nahua dance and drum group, Kalpulli Yaocenoxtli, Sergio Quiroz has led and presented at community events, conferences, artist residencies and workshops throughout the state of Minnesota and nationally for over 20 years. In addition to his leadership role as a lead dancer, Sergio co-founded Indigenous Roots (2015), an arts organization that strives to provide opportunities that promote and practice holistic well being through indigenous arts, culture and activism. Quiroz has co-organized community events and festivals throughout the Twin Cities with the emphasis in working with members of the Latino community, including: Mexica New Year Festival, Immigration Workshops, District del Sol’s Cinco de Mayo Parade and various Mexican Independence Day events.

Tomás Araya ​is originally from Chile. He studied architecture at the University of Valparaiso, where he learned about urbanization, city development and public space. Mentored by Jose Valcells, visual artist and sculptor, ​Tomas ́s work became influenced by the questions ​“Can art can be a force of change? What’s the role of underrepresented populations in public art projects?Tomás returned to the United States last year after graduating and was invited to do a solo exhibition by the co-directors of IRCAC, and has been part of the artistic team ever since. Tomás also has spent the last year assisting at the GoodSpace Murals studio learning about the polytab approach and different ways to run community painting events.

Andres Becerra​ studied at Facultad de Información y Comunicación, the public university focused on the study of mass media, journalism, film-making and advertising. Andres moved to Minneapolis two years ago and began working with GoodSpace Murals. He sought out GSM to develop a sense of what community art looks like in the USA and how to collaborate with others in this new context.

Tlakuilkoatl (he who is the painter of the snake) aka Mateo S. Martinez is a 15 year old St. Paul artist who works primarily in pencil, ink or paint on paper to create his art. He attends Great River Charter School where he loves to engage with his peers about current events and explore new mediums for his art. He enjoys writing, science, and learning about his Indigenous and Mexican heritage. He is a member of the Kalpulli Yaocenoxtli a Mexica/ Nahua Danza and Drum circle. One of his favorite extracurricular activities is learning the drum and participating in the philosophy classes learning about the sacred teachings and ways of his indigenous ancestors.

William Bowman is an engineer and fabricator based in Minneapolis, MN. He received his BS in Mechanical Engineering from Washington University in Saint Louis in 1981 and his MS in Mechanical Engineering in 1983. He has been working in the Twin Cities metro area since 1983 as a mechanical and product engineer and currently owns Phox Co., where he engineers, designs and constructs technology for the medical and museum fields. He frequently collaborates on projects through the Chicago Fire Arts Center. He has installed sculptural work throughout the United States.


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The Commons 425 Portland Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55415

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9pm - 2am each night
Candida Gonzalez
Mary Anne Quiroz
Sergio Quiroz
Tomás Araya
Andres Becerra
(b.) Montevideo, Uruguay
Mateo S. Martinez
William Bowman