Wing Young Huie has transformed six miles of Lake Street in Minneapolis into one of the largest exhibitions of photographs ever mounted in a public space.

"Lake Street USA" is made up of 600 photographs have found their way into store fronts, bus stops, and even mural sized prints hung from the Great Lake Center. Most of the photos were installed by volunteers from June 29 - July 1; photos will be added throughout July. Four years in the making, Huie's humanistic photographs reflect the dizzying mixture of socioeconomic, ethnic, and cultural realities that embody the twelve neighborhoods connected by Lake Street.

Although Huie's photographs have been exhibited at the Walker Art Center and other important venues, he is nationally recognized for his documentary project on Frogtown, a neighborhood in St. Paul. Exhibited on panels in a Frogtown parking lot and open for viewing 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the photographs created a new public space that brought viewers together in dynamic and different ways.

Lake Street USA attempts to do the same on a much larger scale. Winding from trendy, upscale Lake Calhoun through the diversity of newly arrived immigrants near East Lake Street to the blue collar neighborhoods on the Mississippi River, Huie's exhibit is entirely visible from the sidewalk. Known as a vital transportation corridor, Lake Street USA transforms Lake Street into a riveting cultural corridor.

The size of the show is only one of the striking qualities of Lake Street USA. Another is Huie's hard work and determination, photographing and tape recording the people and environs of Lake Street. But maybe more important is the social aspect of Huie's project. Everything in Lake Street USA depends on interdependence and cooperation, beginning with the people who so graciously allowed Huie the photograph them, even inviting him into their homes and places of worship. Then there were the 150 store owners who are allowing Huie to use their windows to exhibit his work. Lastly, there were the funders, contributors, and institutional collaborators who made the daunting task of producing 600 photographic prints possible. This vast network of thousands of people is the new and exciting "social" in Huie's vision of social documentary.

Lake Street USA pays homage to the ongoing social experiment we call America. Exhibiting photographs of newly arrived immigrants alongside those of young hip professionals and middle class homeowners, makes clearly visible what the media representations of inner city life usually fail to notice: the possibilities and everyday realities of American diversity. Huie has found that diversity on Lake Street. Lake Street USA is his dramatically ambitious attempt to transform his perceptions into the creation not only of a new public discussion, but ultimately of a new public space.

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The Southwest Journal

Essay by Michael Finley

Star Tribune, July 16th

Star Tribune, July 9th

St. Paul Pioneer Press

City Pages

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