A downtown different with art

Having traveled a significant amount south of the border, I’m fairly confident in saying there’s a definite similarity to the look of larger American cities. It’s even more striking as you move away from the east coast. Yes, all cities have their distinguishing features, but subtract obvious landmarks (like the Space Needle in Seattle) or geographical markers (a mountain off in the distance in Denver), and there’s a lot of sameness. Of course, I’m not speaking of New Orleans… that doesn’t look like anything else. But you get the point.

Minneapolis, especially in its downtown area, is a bit of an American cookie cutter environment of high rises in the usual architectural styles. Although that remained my impression through five days in the city, the longer I was there, public art kept catching my eye and added a lot of character to what I was seeing in my walks. Like these statues outside of Target Field paying homage to two Minnesota Twins legends: Harmon Killebrew on the left and Kirby Puckett on the right:

They did a really good job of using art around the outside of the stadium. My favourite statue was that of T.C., the Twins mascot. It made me wonder why there isn’t a Youpii! statue outside of Olympic Stadium in Montreal.

Statue of T.C., the Twins mascot

On a quiet Saturday morning walk through the sleepy downtown on my way to a farmer’s market, this piece caught my eye and provided a nice jolt to block after block of office buildings. This is “Inner Search” by Mark di Suvero. I think it suits the environment with a needed pop of colour.

Inner Search by Mark di Suvero

Next door to the weekend Farmer’s Market, I got to see another di Suvero piece. This one, in Gold Medal Park and on loan from Walker Art Center during Minneapolis Sculpture Garden construction, is “Molecule.”

Molecule by Mark di Suvero

Also located in Gold Medal Park is “Prophecy of the Ancients” by Brower Hatcher. It’s another of the pieces that has been moved from the Walker Art Center sculpture garden as it undergoes construction. It’s a shame the sculpture garden wasn’t accessible while I was there (it was something I always wanted to see in Minneapolis), but it was nice that a few pieces were installed temporarily in locations around the city. Art is meant to be seen, not kept behind construction barriers!

Prophecy of the Ancients by Brower Hatcher

 

In the same general area a few blocks south and east of Gold Medal Park I unexpectedly came across “Dancers” by Fernanco Botero. The rotund, larger bodied dancers are a hallmark of his paintings and sculptures and I loved what this added to a downtown street corner. I imagined the music they were listening to while dancing and how the traffic noise mere feet away probably wouldn’t have mattered to these two.

Dancers by Fernanco Botero

Large office buildings can get pretty boring pretty fast, but this one turned a large blank wall into an opportunity. Known locally as “The Music Wall”, this is a composition for the piano that even my remaining limited music reading skills told me would be hard to play. It’s French composer Maurice Ravel’s piece, “Gaspard de la Nuit”, and once I read up on it back at the hotel, came to learn it is widely considered as one of the most difficult compositions to play for a solo pianist.

The Music Wall

No trip to Minneapolis would be complete without seeking out one of the more popular public art installations – “The Times They Are A-Changin'” – the Bob Dylan mural. This was completed by Brazilian artist Eduardo Kobra and five others. I loved everything about this. Yes, the topic is populist in nature, but the artistry of shapes and colours completely changed this street corner in the heart of the city.

Bob Dylan mural by Eduardo Kobra

I still think American cities have a sameness. But in my travels, including this stop in Minneapolis, I’m always happy to go off in search of some unique and distinct art that breathes life into an urban landscape. I really wish I had time for more public art exploring on my visit. These works definitely changed my first impression of the city.

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