Art on the Avenue moving forward

Our last meeting of the minds, back in March.

Our last meeting of the minds, back in March.

Art on the Avenue, scheduled for the first weekend in August, will be a neighborhood-wide party featuring art exhibits, live music and other events. A group of dedicated volunteers has been hitting the streets to get businesses, neighbors, and artists throughout the community on board.

Your next opportunity to offer input and contribute will be tomorrow night (Wednesday, June 26) at 6 p.m. at High Bridge Tattoo, 608 Smith Ave. Tom Alvorado, the owner of the tattoo shop, has put an extraordinary amount of heart and soul of the effort, and if nothing else you should stop by to say hello. Refreshments will be provided.

Also, financial contributions of any amount will be welcome. We’ve raised more than $700 so far, and quite frankly, the more we raise, the better the event will be. For years, I’ve heard people talk about how they wish there was more excitement on the avenue. Now is your chance to make it happen.

If you can’t make it to the event, you can make a contribution the West Side Community Organization. If you’re interested in volunteering or contributing in another way, email us at stubbornlylocal (at) gmail (dot) com.

Smith Avenue photo contest

This is a neat picture but it's kind of old. (Photo by Nick Busse/Creative Commons)

This is a neat picture but it’s kind of old. (Photo by Nick Busse/Creative Commons)

We have a very photogenic neighborhood. Parts of it are lovely in the conventional sense, others have a certain grit that keeps things interesting.

And yet, there aren’t that many photos of the neighborhood out there.

The header photo on this blog, for instance, is actually a Google Streetview image that’s been fancied up in Photoshop. We had a picture of the High Bridge before but that doesn’t really capture the spirit of the place.

So here’s where you come in. Get out your cell phone, point-and-shoot camera, or that digital SLR that’s been sitting in the closet since Christmas and help us document the neighborhood. We’ll put all the entries together and vote on a winner.

Our generous friends at Amore Coffee have offered up a $10 gift card to this month’s winner. There’s a free lunch right there.

Why? Because it’s fun! Also, free coffee!

Send your submissions to before the end of the month. Any format/size is fine. If you’re ambitious, videos are great, too!

UPDATE: The Deadline is Sunday, June 30. And to be clear, your photo doesn’t have to be ON Smith Avenue. Just somewhere in the neighborhood, however you define it.

What’s going on with the coffin store?

No, the coffin store is not dead.

You may have noticed that the coffin store on Smith and Curtice is empty. I just spoke with owner Mike Zoff, and there’s good news, bad news, and possibly more good news.

The good news is that Mike’s business, Affordable Coffins and Artery, is successful and continues to grow. The storefront was too small, and he wants to find a place big enough to house both his workshop and retail space.

The bad news is that he may need to leave the neighborhood. He’s concerned about noise from the workshop disturbing residents, so that doesn’t leave a lot of options. He’s talking with the owner of the old O’Reilly Auto Parts near Smith & Dodd (next to the liquor store), but they haven’t talked about lease terms yet.

And finally, the possibly good news is that Mike’s former landlord told him a new business is moving into the space, so it won’t be vacant for long. [UPDATE: The new tenant will be the St. Paul Classic Cookie Company. Yum!]

Mike had great things to say about the neighborhood and wants to thank everyone for their support in helping him get his business off the ground. Hopefully this isn’t goodbye yet…