The world through the eyes of Michael Birawer

Michael Birawer sees things differently than most people.

The St. Paul-based artist has carved out a niche for himself both locally and nationally, thanks to his unique perspective on some of the Twin Cities' most recognizable landmarks. If you've been to a show at First Avenue, stopped by Target Field, or hit up the House of Comedy inside the Mall of America, you've seen Birawer's work, as all three destinations have commissioned pieces to showcase. 

"Honestly, I'm attracted to everything from historic structures like bridges and cathedrals, to kitschy things that sort of stand out as odd places in our society. Anything that has a unique, bizarre quality is always great," says Birawer, who will be at Deck the Walls inside of Mall of America for a special signing event this Saturday. 

"I actually started out painting places that had a special meaning to me, and then I moved on to specific locations around town," he continues. "Eventually, I moved on to things like skylines and more unique challenges."

While he may be best known for his work in the Twin Cities, Birawer has broadened his horizons, tackling everywhere from Boston to Seattle with his bright, caricature-like interpretations of some of the country's most well-known destinations. From a Sunday afternoon at Lambeau Field to the larger-than-life lights of Fremont Street in Las Vegas, there's nowhere the artist's work can't travel.

Fremont Street
Fremont Street

"I love to take a scene with multiple buildings and really take a look at how they relate and react to one another," he says. "I try and capture as much as I see, and let my impression of it come out in my work. Sure, some buildings might not make the cut in certain scenes, but that's my view."

Just like a proud parent, Birawer can't pick a favorite piece from his collection, but feels that some of his best work stems from the connection people feel with certain places.

Duluth - Canal Park
Duluth - Canal Park

"I painted the St. Clair Broiler in St. Paul, which isn't as well-known as a place like First Avenue," he says. "But it has huge meaning for people in the area, and that's what makes it a favorite. I also just painted Duluth, and that was a new type of challenge that I really liked. I've had so many different periods that I've done, it's just hard to pick one."

As for his upcoming plans, Birawer says he'd like to bring his artistic twist to more scenic locations, incorporating trees and nature into his fantastically twisted universe. However, he'll be the first to admit that when it comes to creating works of art, you can't always plan ahead.

"Sometimes I have a plan for the next six months of projects, and then a curveball comes along and changes my perspective. Sometimes I pick the locations; sometimes they pick me."


Michael Birawer artwork signing
Deck the Walls, Mall of America
1-4 p.m. Saturday, November 17

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