Minneapolis artist Reggie LeFlore talked to passersby July 13 in front of a newly finished self-portrait on a wall behind The Herkimer in LynLake.
About 20 feet away, artist Nell Triggs spray-painted bumblebees and flower petals onto another wall of the building as she wrapped up a mural she called “Love Me Not.” Meanwhile, four other artists put the finishing touches onto murals further down the alley.
The six artists were among 35 participating in the second-annual LynLake Street Art Series, hosted by the LynLake Business Association.
The artists spray-painted murals onto 20 walls at 11 locations across the district, as people watched, took pictures and asked them questions.
The goal of the event was to highlight the district’s “vibrant, modern art” and to “show the independent, local nature” of the area, said Josh Wilken-Simon, the owner of Legacy Glassworks Art Gallery and Tobacco Shop and the co-chair of the business association.
“We definitely want to keep doing it and grow it, so it includes other kinds of street art,” fellow co-chair Morgan Luzier said.
Wilken-Simon and Luzier planned the first event last year as a way to highlight the various businesses and art in the LynLake district, which spans portions of Lowry Hill East, Whittier, CARAG and Lyndale. The district developed as a commercial corridor in the late 1800s and is bordered by Franklin Avenue to the north, 36th Street to the south and Blaisdell and Dupont avenues to the east and west.
It includes everything from a VFW post to a brewery, ice cream shop, workout studios and theaters.
Luzier said she was pleased with the turnout of the street-art event, noting that several restaurants reported an uptick in business. The participating artists gave the event a positive review, she said, noting that they had free reign to paint what they wanted.
Southwest resident Chad Zenk-Tills was among the dozens of people who came to see the artists at work. He said he’s been photographing graffiti for decades, adding that he loves and appreciates public art.
“Every time I go on vacation, one of the main things l look for is public art,” he said. “It’s nice to have more on the home turf.”
Groe, a St. Paul-based artist, spray-painted a mural onto the side of a building at the northwest corner of Lake & Lyndale. He said his mural, which featured dark colors and the words “Lyn Lake,” was meant to show the area as a place in transition.
A block north, LeFlore, an Omaha, Nebraska, native, put the finishing touches on his self-portrait, which features him peering down the alley. He said the deciding factor in creating a self-portrait was that “there aren’t a lot of black folks in mural projects.”
Triggs, meanwhile, worked on a mural she said was inspired by the pedal-picking game “He loves me … he loves me not.” Her 9-year-old nephew Jaxon stood nearby, handing out stickers to passersby and helping Triggs decide where to spray-paint the bumblebees.
Other artists worked in tandem on a single wall, including Taylor Berman, a Wisconsin-based art teacher, print-maker and muralist. Berman and five other artists painted a large wall on the north side of the building that houses Big Watt Coffee, which can be seen from the Midtown Greenway. He said he thought the event was a good opportunity to paint during the nicer months of the year.
One of his fellow artists, who goes by Ryoe, said he thought the event was a cool opportunity to legally paint in the community.
Big Watt owner Jason Westplate said he thought the mural was “awesome,” noting that the building has been consistently targeted for graffiti in the past. He added that doing stuff with well-respected artists could discourage illegal taggers.
At Provision Community Restaurant near Lake & Harriet, three artists put their finishing touches on a new mural early in the afternoon. The nonprofit restaurant, which will open in August, held a mural dedication near the end of the event.
David Smith, programs director of Provision, said events like the street-art series represent a great opportunity to build awareness.
“We want to make this spot beautiful,” he said.
Artists named Wunder and Biafra spent the day painting a new mural on part of the old Intermedia Arts building (now the RightSource building) on the 2900 block of Lyndale Avenue. Biafra estimated they scrapped 200 pounds of paint off the wall before starting their piece, which features various patterns and cartoon figures.
The LynLake Business Association plans on hosting another street-art event next year. Luzier said the organization would love to be in touch with people interested in helping. People can reach the association at [email protected].