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Celebrating El Midwest Canto al Pueblo in St. Paul
The renewal of El Midwest Canto al Pueblo on the back of the REDA building at 176 Cesar Chavez Street in St. Paul was celebrated October 29. The most recent repair, led by Pablo Basques, installed a mosaic version of the original mural painted by Basques in 1979.
The Riverview Economic Development Association (REDA) has initiated a new plan to restore and maintain public art in the West Side neighborhood of St. Paul. The program brings artists and citizens together to renew the many works of community art while also reviving the history and culture that they creatively exhibit.
Canto commemorated a national arts movement that coordinated festivals throughout the United States to celebrate Chicano/Latino artists. Basques depicted a rose with a single drop of blood dropping from the thorn: "The rose symbolizes the perfection we all seek to attain as artists, and the drop of blood symbolizes the struggle and suffering that is connected with that artistic struggle".
The mural was chosen for rehabilitation through a REDA 2008 community outreach process identifying the work as one of the most valued public art pieces in need of repair. To ensure a longer lifespan of the mural image, Basques partnered with local artists Joshua Sarintitis and Greta Mclain to install a mosaic version of the original mural. Youth from Humboldt High School, the Youth Farm and Market Project, and community members coordinated by the West Side Citizens Organization, helped to fabricate the mosaic over a two month period.
Dr. Cheryl Maloney, Executive Director of the Riverview Economic Development Association, is thrilled with the mosaic and the momentum of the public art initiative. "[This] is a great demonstration of the power and ownership of our local community. It is stunning to have this on the back wall of REDA who is dedicated to supporting the small businesses, artisans and community to contribute to the vitality and growth of this community."
©2010 Betsy Mowry