When Mark Hinds, Executive Director of the Lyndale Neighborhood Association, found a picture of 3449 Nicollet Avenue dated 1915 and compared it to the status quo, he knew something had to change. The shop-window of a nice little grocery store was long gone; instead, an ugly, graffiti-tagged wall caught the eye. Mark wondered what he could do to stop the graffiti and decay.
Meanwhile, Sarah Linnes-Robinson, Executive Director of the Kingfield Neighborhood, met Carole Bersin, an artist who paints signs and murals professionally. Sarah was also familiar with the problem of tagged walls around her neighborhood and knew that Mark Hinds was looking for an opportunity to reclaim these walls for the community. So they decided to start the “Walldogs on Nicollet Avenue” project. With lots of helping hands among the community members of the two neighborhood associations and support of professional artists like Carole Bersin, they want to beautify Nicollet Avenue. Their goal is to stage one of the biggest mural painting events in and around Minneapolis, creating six to ten murals in total, with the main painting set to begin July 2008.
At their kick-off event September 13-16, the Walldogs finished two murals, one on 3537 Nicollet Avenue showing their logo and a second at 3449 Nicollet Avenue depicting the shop-window of the old grocery store. Mark Hinds said, “By painting these murals, we involve, build up and revitalize our community at the same time,” adding that, “Murals are usually not harmed by graffiti painters.” In addition, the murals are meant to catch the attention of other neighborhoods and of investors, since funding is typically a huge challenge for community improvement work. The “Walldogs on Nicollet Avenue” project organized fundraiser events, including a garden party, during their kick-off event weekend.
Mark Hinds is confident about Walldog’s future, saying: “We really did a good job so far and our plans for next year are realistic.” Themes for 2008 have not yet been chosen, and the location and the exact number of murals are also not final.
David Schommer is an intern at the TC Daily Planet, who is studying at Hamline University. Thanks to Mark Hinds for furnishing photos for this article.