The street is the art in south Minneapolis

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A volunteer works on the mural (Image: Jon Collins)

I was biking to work when I looked down and saw a pink flamingo on the road. Next to it was a blue dog.

But while most street art is painted on walls or, in some cases, cows, this street art is painted directly onto the asphalt.

The Corcoran Neighborhood Organization (CNO) has been engaged in a public art initiative that’s included three of these on-the-street murals.

CNO Executive Director Amy Arcand said the group was inspired by similar street murals in St. Paul when they added their mural near Corcoran Park last year.

“That was started by a block club, they really wanted to calm down traffic right on their block, with all the kids passing back and forth to the park,” Arcand said. “They just did some art on the streets with chalk, and then they said, ‘Let’s see if we can’t get this permanent.'”

The neighborhood organization worked with the city to get the appropriate licenses, closed off the intersection and painted the street.

This year, volunteers repainted that street mural, which had been ravaged by snow plows and salt over the winter. And they added two more, including the mural of the blue dog and flamingo in the intersection of 21st Avenue South and 33rd Street East.

Nineteen-year Corcoran resident and artist Carole Bersin led that effort. She called a meeting with neighbors and collected ideas that were important to them.

“I told them my structure was going to be a labyrinth, and I asked them, ‘What’s in your maze of life? What’s in your maze of Corcoran? What do you see here?'” Bersin said.

The neighbors responded with a bike, the blue dog, and that pink flamingo.

“They have something called Flamingo Fridays,” Bersin said. “Most Fridays, a whole group of neighbors get together and they know whose house it’s at by the flamingo in the yard.”

Each mural cost about $1,750 to install, which was provided by a Metropolitan Regional Arts Council grant.

In all, about 90 neighbors helped in the creation of the mural. Introducing neighbors to one another is part of the neighborhood organization’s goal, said the CNO’s Arcand.

“Each [mural] is a representation of what’s important to people on that block in that part of the neighborhood,” Arcand said. “It’s not just about the public art, it’s about, how do we bring people together?”

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