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2015 in review: 5 times artists created work outside the gallery, part 1

Ifrah Mansour performing at Creative City Market, at mini_polis.

Ifrah Mansour performing at Creative City Market, at mini_polis.

It's not that we have anything against seeing artwork indoors (it is winter in Minnesota, after all). However, we thought we would give a shout out to all the cool art that happened this year outside of the museums and galleries. In 2015, quite a few artists and organizations came together to create pieces and experiences in spaces where people, who aren’t necessarily museum-goers, would have a chance to interact with beautiful and interesting things.

Here are five of our favorite instances of public art that happened this year (check back tomorrow for five more). 

Eduardo Kobra's Bob Dylan Mural  

Eduardo Kobra’s kaleidoscope-style homage to Bob Dylan became an instant smash when it was painted on the side of a five-story building on Fifth and Hennepin earlier this fall. With its three portraits of Dylan (reflecting different stages of his career) and two halves of a guitar (one electric, one acoustic), the brightly colored mural celebrated one of Minnesota’s most iconic musicians while also providing an eye-catching bright spot in downtown Minneapolis’ landscape. Overseen by the Hennepin Theatre Trust (HTT) and commissioned by the building owners, a business unit of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, the mural was put together by Brazilian artist Kobra and his team with the help of local muralists Erin Sayer and Yuya Negishi. Titled The Times They Are A-Changin’, Kobra’s work is just one of many projects helmed by HTT’s Made Here project, which has brought pop-up galleries to storefronts along Block E, and coordinated another recent mural by Greg Gossel at the old National Camera Exchange Building as part of Small Business Saturday Street Art.

Crop art and more surprises for Mia’s centennial

In celebration of its 100th anniversary, the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) has been coming up with delightful surprises all year, many of which have taken place outside of the museum's walls. For example, you may have seen full-scale reproductions of Rembrandt’s Lucretia, Monet’s Grainstack, Sun in the Mist, and Van Gogh’s Olive Trees pop up at businesses around town, the downtown library, and in parks. Mia’s surprises have also included installing gorgeous ice sculptures on Lake Calhoun, and decorating water towers in New Hope, Chisago County, and Minnetonka with some of the its most popular works. Perhaps the coolest of all pop-up projects was when the they commissioned crop artist Stan Herd to recreate van Gogh’s Olive Trees painting using plants. It’s amazing how Herd was able to get the colors and the “brush strokes” just right in his agricultural reprint, which travelers could view while flying in and out of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

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The Plume Project

Residents and visitors of downtown St. Paul may notice a peculiar stream of color puffing up into the sky, as the Plume Project launched in November and will continue into next year. A group of artists, funded in part by the Knight Art Challenge Grant, have partnered with St. Paul’s District Energy, an entity that creates electricity and heat through the use of wood scraps, to project color onto the steam that the plant emits. For the project's debut, Emily Stover created an interactive installation (participants could call a number and listen to a poem as the plume's light flickered to the rhythm of the piece). Up next is Aaron Dysart, who will use NASA data to create a light show (starting December 22), followed by a work by Asia Ward, who will be projecting drawings from the community onto the plume (check it out during the St. Paul Winter Carnival).

Wheat paste portraits with food for "The Last Summer” at In Progress

Why keep the art inside the museum, when you can just as easily display it outside? That’s how a team of artists decided to approach their photography series, “The Last Supper.” The work can be seen on the exterior walls of the building that houses In Progress, a nonprofit arts organization based in St. Paul’s North End neighborhood. Led by photographer Xavier Tavera, who worked with a group of emerging artists, the piece offers a variation on the iconic Last Supper, showcasing the different foods that participants typically have for dinner. The portraits of people and their supper of choice were then wheat pasted to the walls, creating an installation with a unique, rugged look. 

Mini_polis and the Creative City Market

The annual Creative City Challenge, which commissions teams of artists to create temporary outdoor installations on the lawn of the Convention Center, has gotten better every summer. This year’s winners, a group of innovators called SocialSculpture, held a series of public workshops that collected place-based hopes and memories. These were then used to create a city model with platforms for activities. Mini_polis wasn’t just a sculpture, though. Throughout the summer, the Musicant Group, in partnership with Pablo Jones, enlivened the installation with performances, film screenings, live music, and a market featuring locally made art and goods, transforming an empty lawn into a hotbed of arts activities all summer long.