Twin Cities street art: Lake Street murals


Got any plans for your summer? We plan to get out to see the street art in the Twin Cities — one street or neighborhood at a time. I’m a fan of srteet art; I’ve been lucky enough to see Banksy in New York, murals in Belfast and Blu in Berlin. This summer, I’ll be staying home but I figured there must be some sights to see in my home town, too. So my plan for the summer is long walks with a camera.

We started with Lake Street — from the Lake Street Bridge to Lake Calhoun. We started there because my favorite street art is hidden under the Lake Street Bridge on the St Paul side. It honors a soldier; I remember when it went up two years ago around Memorial Day weekend. My hope this summer it to find more hidden gems like it. (If you know of any art I should check out please let me know

Under the Lake Street Bridge

Under the Lake Street Bridge

The street art in Lake Street is primarily paintings and murals. Some are clearly commercial, some are community-focused and a few might have been unsanctioned. Heading from St Paul, the art starts rolling with the Longfellow Artists in Lake Street (LoLA). They are sponsoring lots of opportunities for artists, such as the utility boxes along Lake Street. (The Minneapolis Public Arts Administration issues permits and supports “wrrapped and painted utility boxes” around the city. )

Utility box art by Gordon Coons

Lake Street utility box: Gordon Coons

As we strolled down the avenue, we found that street art increases as lanugages in the shop windows increase. There were a lot of scenes celebrating different ethnicities Mexican, Native American, African and Scandanavian. Some of these seemed comercial; some seemed like community projects. We saw quite a few between the train station on Minnehaha and 1st Avenue South.

Lake Street near 15th

Some store fronts seemed to sponsor or promote street art, such as Urban Ventures, Safari Restaurant and the former Resource Center of the Americas.

Urban Ventures

Safari Restaurant

Former Resource Center of the Americas

A lot of art was clever or good or otherwise struck us. We were surprised at the dearth of street art on Lake Street in Uptown. Perhaps that’s because for this trip we stayed on Lake Street. We learned that sometimes the most interesting work happens off the main drag; we’re hoping to get to more of that later.

Originally I thought we might spend a day or two traipsing the city to uncover gems but we’ve learned you’ve really got to be walking to get the flavor of a community and it’s going to take all summer to get a decent start. If you see us out in your street, please tell us the story of your local art. Or feel free to post a comment, or to suggest a neighborhood and what to look for.