The Writing on the Wall

Divining the future of a city one mural at a time

--Peyton, of Juxtaposition Arts, on the reluctance of some to accept legal graffiti-style public art

Carole Byard and
Marilyn Lindstrom

CROSSROADS

3013 Lyndale Ave. S.

Minneapolis *1997

 

Just a few blocks away from Intermedia Arts is a less controversial but just as striking piece of work, a broad swath of purplish blues and yellowing oranges. In keeping with the multicultural theme of the piece, there are symbols representing the five main cultures in the area--African, Native American, Meso-American, Asian, and European. But the dominant image is the Yoruba figure Elegba, a spiritual force of nature who purportedly comes to the aid of an individual when there is a choice to be made in life.

Perhaps the "crossroads" theme is an overused one, summoning memories of bad valedictorian speeches from high school graduation, and coming-of-age movies starring Ralph Macchio. But this sense of being at a point where things will almost certainly change, for good or bad, does seem to describe the art and architecture of the Twin Cities. As the city is buffeted by a gust of development and by a flurry of new mural creation, the face of the landscape is fated to change.

Murals are monuments to impermanence. Unlike a statue or a building or any other solid landmark, they are at the mercy of the elements. Five years from now, maybe a quarter of the works discussed here will be gone. Maybe half. And this is not exclusively a bad thing. Like markers at a forked road, murals indicate that a neighborhood will be heading in a new direction. It's up to us to figure out what that destination will be.

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