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A Celebration of the Arts in Labor

September 5, 2015 @ 1:00 pm - 4:30 pm

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Screen Shot 2015-08-30 at 11.33.39 PMThe East Side Freedom Library is deeply committed to the idea that there are many untold stories and that there are many ways to tell those stories. Working people have long relied on art – music, poetry, visual art, puppetry, fiction, theater, story telling, — to tell their stories to each other and to the wider community. The East Side Freedom Library is collecting such materials along with books, and we are providing a space within which these arts can be embodied and enacted in real time, shared with audiences from the East Side and beyond.

Labor Day 2015 provides an opportunity for us to bring together a group of terrific artists who practice a variety of crafts to tell a variety of stories, but all shed light on the experiences of workers and immigrants, the women and men who have come here, made their homes here, and helped to shape our society.

We invite our community to come and enjoy these wonderful artists. Our program will include:

+ An original puppet show created by theater artists which tells the story of this library, from its construction as a Carnegie Library in 1917 and its long run as a much beloved neighborhood institution to its reincarnation last year as the East Side Freedom Library. Maria Asp of the Children’s Theater Company’s Bridges program and Emily Zimmer of Pillsbury House Theater’s Chicago Avenue project have created this puppet show and enlisted a range of great performers to take part.

+ Megan Marsnik will read from her novel UNDERGROUND, which is currently being serialized daily in the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. A high school English teacher who grew up in Biwabik, Megan has done extensive research on the 1916 Iron Range strike which is at the center of her widely acclaimed novel.

+ The East Side Freedom Library is proud to be serving as the adopted home of the beautiful Saint Paul Labor History Mural, which was painted eight years ago by local artists Keith Christensen and Ta-coumba Aiken. Until a month ago, it had been mounted on the wall at the Saint Paul Labor Center at 411 Main Street. When that building was sold and the Regional Labor Federation moved into temporary quarters, the 48 foot by 6 foot mural moved into the downstairs of the Freedom Library. Keith and Ta-coumba will give a tour of the mural, explaining the choices they made in their art work and discussing the images in the painting.

+ Javier Morillo is a respected leader in the labor movement (president of SEIU Local 26) and a widely known voice on public television and radio and social media. In the past two years, he has emerged as a compelling story teller, winning several competitions and creating shows in the Fringe Festival. Javier will tell the dramatic story of his arrest in an act of civil disobedience in Houston, Texas, while he was supporting janitors who were seeking improved wages and working conditions there.

+ Larry Long is the Twin Cities best known labor troubadour, and he has performed on concert stages and picket lines, not just in the Twin Cities but around the world. Tou Saiko Lee is a leading spoken word poet, who has grown within the local Hmong community to receive broad recognition and appreciation well beyond our borders. While it would be very special to have both of them on the program, the truth is that they will be developing a performance together. This is sure to create a very special opportunity for us all.


September 5, 2015
1:00 pm - 4:30 pm


East Side Freedom Library


East Side Freedom Library
1105 Greenbrier Street
St. Paul, MN 55106
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