Minneapolis is a thriving metro area known for providing residents with plenty of outdoor activities, as well as work and educational opportunities. Yet within this urban core is also an artistic flair that presents itself in the Hiawatha neighborhood. Hiawatha is a middle class area which has a median income of roughly $65,000 and a vast majority of the home are owner occupied.
Within this tight knit community, there is a beautiful display of public art known as the Hiawatha Avenue Mural. Originally dedicated in June of 1992, this mural was sponsored by the Minneapolis Arts Commission. The mural was created by Sara Rotholz Weiner and was designed to cover approximately 29,000 feet of the Harvest State grain elevator. At the time, it was the largest work of public art commissioned by this city, as well as one of the largest murals in the U.S.
The design was painted by Dale Hanson and John Keltgen. They were billboard artists for an outdoor advertising company. The mural sits next to a rail line, which works to supply the mills that line Hiawatha Avenue.
The subject matter of the mural is made up of images that record life in the early 20th century, as well as the beauty of space. The result is eight different images in a vertical set along one of the grain elevators. The images include a view of the earth from its moon and a tree-lined road. Another image is a paddleboat and its passengers. There are pictures of planets in three of the mural’s sections. An automobile and streetcar from the 1940s was also pictured.
The design is meant to draw the eye outward, as the lines leading from the eight images lead out to the edges of the grain elevator. The designer has been quoted as saying that she envisioned the mural to be a perpetual time piece that registers moments and periods of change.
Using charcoal to line out the various parts of the drawings, Keltgen and Hanson did the initial outline of the mural. The next step was a lumber crayon following those lines before finally adding the oil paint. Their paint style was meant to reflect Weiner’s design down to the specific look of the brush strokes.
This amazing mural stands out as an example of beauty within an industrial environment. However, it is not the last piece of public art within this warm neighborhood. Public art is popping up all over, including murals on buildings and other mediums. Sculptures have been placed in both the Lake Hiawatha Park and Oaks Station Place. Outdoor galleries have been installed for periods of time within various buildings and other sites. Many of these artistic examples are meant to explore and celebrate Minnesota and all the aspects of life here.
When a visitor explores this neighborhood, it is not necessarily the shopping or restaurants that draw them in. Instead visitors and residents alike are drawn to the amazing artistic endeavors that pepper this unique little neighborhood.