OUTDOOR PUBLIC ART enhances a community. It provides an outlet for creativity, adds interest to place and often brings joy. At least that’s my assessment.
As someone who grew up in rural southwestern Minnesota with minimal exposure to the arts—or perhaps more accurately minimal opportunity in the arts—I deeply appreciate the arts.
My community of Faribault, where I’ve lived for the past 39 years, embraces creativity, centered today at the Paradise Center for the Arts. Yet, the visual arts extend well beyond the walls of the Paradise to stained glass windows in our historic churches, an art collection at Buckham Memorial Library, sculptures, architecture, home-grown shops, historic-themed murals and even the graceful curves of the historic viaduct.
You can see Faribault’s newest addition to the outdoor art scene from that viaduct, which offers a sweeping view of the downtown area.
But I viewed this latest public art close up from an alley. On the back and sides of The Upper East Side, an art and gallery space at 213 Central Avenue, Morristown area artist Jeff Jarvis (West Cedar Studio) painted a mural onto the stucco building.
The mural differs significantly from the historic-themed murals scattered throughout our downtown as part of The Mural Society of Faribault’s ongoing mural installation efforts.
The Upper East Side mural, a project of owner Suzanne Schwichtenberg and Jarvis, is more modern and graphic with strong lines. Less detailed. Bold. With unexpected pops of color. I find the zipper painted into the mural to be especially creative—the unzipping of history, of stories, of past and present. The mural invites introspection rather than simple reflection on an historic place or memory.
That’s my take. Not as someone with an art education, but rather as a creative who has grown to appreciate the arts in her community and beyond.
FYI: Suzanne Schwichtenberg leads paint-and-sip events and other painting sessions at The Upper East Side and also takes painting/social gatherings on the road. Jarvis is a third-generation artist specializing in historical sketches and scenes from everyday life. He is passionate about local and regional history, authoring a book on the area’s mill history.
© Copyright 2021 Audrey Kletscher Helbling