Kicking off Creativity

When neighborhood, civic, corporate and non-profit organizations use creativity to reach mutual goals, great things can happen. Tomorrow, September 24, COMPAS is celebrating the completion of a large-scale mural that is the culmination of many groups coming together with ideas and financial support, and the creative work of COMPAS artists and youth apprentices.

If you’re near St. Paul’s Marydale Park on Saturday, September 24 at 10:30 a.m., please join us for the ribbon cutting ceremony!

Planned and coordinated over many months, a sky blue foundation now shows off the colorful mural that brightens the walls of the BNSF Railway underpass on Maryland Avenue just east of Dale Street in St. Paul. The completed piece combines natural elements that can be found throughout the community and the cityscape that represents St. Paul’s industry.

The Marydale Park Mural is monumental and fulfills a North End neighborhood vision that has been discussed for years by neighbors. Public art can be an expensive and complex undertaking. However, in collaboration with the area’s City Council office, COMPAS was able to take the community vision to the next level. With so many young people being passionate about drawing and painting, the mural project was a perfect fit for COMPAS’ summer youth employment program, ArtsWork.

Check out this video to see youth apprentices, artists, and partners from the COMPAS ArtsWork program share what creativity has helped them achieve.                                                Video created by Venn Design & Media.

In July and August, twelve ArtsWork apprentices, supervised by artists Katrina Knutson and Asfia Rizwy, spent their days hard at work on the painting. With walls spanning more than 30’ on each side, and reaching over 15’ high, the job was quite a feat for our crew of artists. Youth apprentices helped make creative decisions that drove elements of the painting, which made the project more meaningful to them. Gradually the bridge was transformed into a bright, welcoming underpass.

As the painting unfolded throughout the summer, neighbors popped by to offer refreshments and express their excitement about having “art added to our neighborhood.” Riders shouted accolades from passing cars, and pedestrians stopped by to share stories of the difference the mural was making in enlivening their community and making it feel safer.

The mural represents much more than the plants, wildlife and buildings it features. It demonstrates the benefits of youth employment opportunities through the arts. In addition, apprentices will be able to walk and drive by the mural for years and know they had a hand in its creation.

The mural also plays a transformative role. When citizens are more emotionally attached to where they live, the community is more likely to thrive. The Marydale Mural provides a colorful welcome in St. Paul’s North End facilitating neighborhood pride. The color scheme also gives the underpass a much needed aesthetic boost.

We’re excited about the success of the mural and we are grateful for the efforts that so many people put into kicking off creativity in St. Paul’s North End.

By COMPAS staff member Betsy Mowry Voss

Additional financial support for this project comes from the Patrick and Aimee Butler Family Foundation, the Sundance Foundation, the City of Saint Paul’s Right Track program, Face to Face, and individual contributors to COMPAS.

In kind support for this project comes from Kendall’s Ace Hardware and BNSF Railway.

Special thanks to District 6 Planning Council and City of St. Paul, Ward 5 City Council Office for extra support and encouragement!