When Pat Benson left for the day from the Minnesota Street Market, she exited through the back door. When she got to the parking lot and saw the few cars parked there and glanced back at the food and art co-op’s building, she thought to herself, “No one can see we’re here.”
The remedy? Find a way to create a mural to invite the community in.
“We want that (back) door to be recognized as a front door,” Benson said. “The mural will help tell people we’re here. It communicates the spirit of the co-op, the spirit of community and our role in the community.”
Created by artist and College of St. Benedict student Melissa Pinkowski, work is still underway to complete the mural that covers the back wall of the Minnesota Street Market building. Pinkowski sketched the scene that shows a sun setting over rolling hills and a field of vegetables bordered by blooming apple trees.
Pinkowski discovered a love for art at a young age. Drawing and painting always came naturally so when she was approached about the mural, it was familiar territory. It also helped she has worked on three murals previously, including one at the Al Ringsmuth Public Library in Waite Park.
“I like larger projects and getting people involved in something they won’t get in a gallery,” Pinkowski said.
The 20-year-old studio art major hopes the mural serves as an invitation to the co-op while reflecting its mission. To her, a mural is a great way to bring people together through a visual connection.
“A public project like this helps integrate art back into the community,” she said.
Pinkowski is a junior at CSB and plans to pursue a career in film animation. Her goal is to tell stories through art via film.
Residents and visitors will see an image of an herb garden and tree leaves created by hand prints in the mural. Once completed, the sun will reflect the logo of the Minnesota Street Market, Benson said. The co-op also plans to add a solar-powered spotlight for the mural to be lit overnight.
“We’ve got a lot of visions,” Benson said. “We’re excited to grow and make things happen.”
Art is one of the components of the Minnesota Street Market so the addition of the mural was fitting. The local connection is important Benson said as the co-op supports local vendors, growers, local economy and sustainability. All is reflected in the beginning stages of the mural that depicts grass-fed animals and a garden that includes tomatoes, cabbages and eggplants.
“I think it’s kind of welcoming,” Benson said of the mural. “It tells the local community we are here for them.”
The support of volunteers is what has fueled the project that kicked off last month. They have had more than 10 volunteers step up so far and each makes an impact, she said. They had hoped to be done by now but work is contingent upon weather. Pinkowski said the plan is for it to be completed in the coming weeks.
Katie Foley, manager of the Minnesota Street Market, said customers are eager to see the completion of the mural.
“They love it,” Foley said. “It was a great idea.”