Walldogs on Nicollet

It may sound like an impossible task, but it will indeed happen: This week, along Nicollet Avenue in the Kingfield neighborhood, ten murals will be painted on the outside of various buildings in three days. Mark Hinds, Executive Director of the Lyndale Neighborhood Association has spent the past 18 months helping to coordinate the event.

City Pages: Tell me a little bit about Walldogs, the group coming to the city to help lead the mural creations.

Mark Hinds: It's not an official group per se, it's a loosely connected group of people who do sign painting or mural work professionally. They started coming together 10 years ago at various Walldog meets. In the '30s, '40s, and '50s, and even earlier, sign painting and this kind of art was very common. Today, this sort of art is usually produced by computers. So they started coming together to teach the craft and preserve it. There's usually only a handful of people that do this kind of work in any one place. For them, it's a chance to connect and meet people with interest in the craft. They probably do three or four events a year. They spend three to four days at a location, and leave this rich tradition behind for a community.

CP: Any particular murals of the 10 you're more excited about?

MH: There are a number that I think will be incredible. The Joseph Nicollet one on Grays' Leather will be fantastic. The MLK Park mural will be great as well; the north wall is going to have a huge mural. The B-Squad Vintage Building is going to have a mural of the Nicollet Ballpark. It's got this great 1920s look to it. The Nicollet Ballpark is arguably one of the most historically significant things in this part of town, and I think a lot of people will be interested in seeing something pay homage to that. The only thing out there right now is a sign outside of Wells Fargo where it used to be.

CP: Why use murals to beautify an area of town? Why not just do some fancy landscaping?

MH: Part of it is that this community has a strong belief in the value of public art. An appreciation for the intrinsic value of art, art that beautifies, challenges, sometimes makes people think. Public art and murals bring a different kind of aesthetic feel to a community; it makes people think about that area differently. Sure, you can find nice landscaped areas, but they don't promote critical thinking, they don't make you think about the people that live there, that work there, or the history of the area in the same way you can with public art and murals.

Walldogs on Nicollet kicks off this Thursday and runs through Saturday. In addition to group painting at art sites, the area will also be hosting outdoor family activities and two block parties with live music and food. To sign up call 612.750.8160 or for a complete schedule visit walldogs.lyndale.org.
July 24-25, 8 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sat., July 26, 8 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sun., July 27, 2008

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