A brief history of public art in Minnesota


Jonathan Carver, a Connecticut cartographer exploring the upper Mississippi, comes across a cave the Dakota names Wakan tipi. He notices the petroglyphs – ancient rock carvings of rattlesnakes, turtles, birds and people.


Norwegian-American sculptor Jacob Fjelde is commissioned to create a bronze of the Nordic superstar violinist Ole Bull, to be erected in Loring Park. The statue becomes emblematic of the burgeoning Norwegian immigrant community.


After a plaster version by Fjelde Hiawatha and Minnehaha The sculpture is on display at the Chicago World’s Fair and then in the Minneapolis Public Library for years. Overcoming criticism that its subjects do not look like the locals, the sculpture is cast in bronze and placed in Minnehaha Park.


While transporting an 18-ton boulder to commemorate Father Galtier Foundation of St. Paul to Kellogg Mall Park, the axle of the truck carrying it breaks. Two days later, the boulder finally arrives.


The gigantic bottle cap shape Grain Belt neon sign— which has lit up the Marigold Ballroom in downtown Minneapolis for nearly a decade — is being relocated to Nicollet Island. The sign goes out in ’75, is lit again in ’89, goes dark again in ’96, and is lit again (forever?) in 2017.


Minneapolis Star Columnist Barbara Flanagan rebukes Smith music for the ugly brick wall at his downtown headquarters. In response, Schmitt commissions a mural depicting Ravel’s third movement Gaspard de la Nuit.


To style wars, a documentary about NYC graffiti debuts on PBS, a young Peyton Scott Russell is inspired to paint his first piece on North Star Elementary. The following summer, Russell, now known as Mackin’ Me, teams up with street artist Viper to found the Wild style crew.


the walker commissions European sculptors Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen to create a $500,000 cherry-shaped fountain as the centerpiece for the opening of Minneapolis’ new Sculpture Garden across the street. Spoonbridge and Cherry will become a symbol of Minneapolis.


Wing Young Huie installs 173 of his black-and-white photographed portraits in an open-air gallery in Frogtown. Five years later, he was inspired to exhibit 675 of his portraits along a six-mile stretch of Lake Street at the landmark Lake Street USA.


When peanuts Creator Carl Schulz dies at the age of 77, his hometown honors him by commissioning 101 five-foot fiberglass statues of Snoopy. In consecutive summers peanuts on Parade continues with Charlie Brown, Lucy and the entire gang.


TV Land’s cable network unveils a life-size bronze of Minneapolis’ most famous fictional resident, Mary Richards That Mary Tyler Moore Show. Bronze Mary will forever throw up her beret on the corner of 7th Street in Nicollet Mall.


After nine years of teaching after-school graffiti art programs at his North Side studio, Peyton Scott Russell art of juxtaposition is established enough to purchase a building with (temporarily) bare walls at Emerson Avenue and West Broadway Avenue in Minneapolis.


Street artist HOT TEAwho made a name for himself threading yarn through chain link fences to create elaborate graffiti-like tags is commissioned by the Minneapolis Institute of Art to hang a piece in Mia’s Target atrium.


The owners of Building 15 in Minneapolis commission Brazilian street artist Eduardo Kobra to paint a five-story triptych spanning three eras Bob Dylan.


Two weeks after that princeDeath sneaks out of Peyton Scott Russell and, under cover of darkness, applies the star of Prince with gold leaf to the famous facade of First Ave. Management is initially angered by Russell’s poetic desecration of their property, but now they’re selling t-shirts of it.


Sam Durant is commissioned by Walker to build it framework in the middle of a newly conceived sculpture garden. His sculpture of the gallows from which 38 Dakota were hanged in Mankato in 1862 so outraged the native community that the Walker is forced to commission its destruction.


After the riots following the assassination of George Floyd, Shopfronts in the cities are clad in plywood, which becomes a giant canvas for street art. In the same cultural moment, a statue of Columbus on the Capitol lawn is toppled by Mike Forcia of the American Indian Movement.

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