Bright colors, big city

The Convention Center’s new mural outlines the highlights of Twin Cities culture.

Jenny Phan

Anthony R. Whelihan has created a mural that encapsulates Twin Cities culture in one magnificent 5,632-square foot rectangle. The artwork has caused stares and even some grimaces from locals around Third Avenue, Minneapolis.

The “Seasons of the City” mural, located off Third Avenue and 12th Street on an interior wall of the Minneapolis Convention Center, combines the major “must see” sites of the Twin Cities into an explosion of discordant images, ranging from Minnesota’s Gophers’ mascot to the capitol building in St. Paul.

“I really love the diversity of the mural,” University art first year Maggie Manson said. Manson was visiting the new mural for a class art assignment.

The blinding colors and riotous intensity of the mural is impressively combined with prints representing the year’s seasons.

It’s like a walk in the past – illuminating memories of flipping through old photo albums and unveiling history. You see everything that you recognize, but what’s more, you see it at a different angle and with oddly inverted colors.

The presence of the mural undoubtedly brings publicity to the already inescapable bulk of the Minneapolis Convention Center. It is one of the most unique pieces Minnesota has seen since Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen’s “Spoonbridge and Cherry” debuted at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.

To feel the full effects of the piece, 3-D glasses are suggested for viewing the mural. The minute you slap on those glasses you are slipped into a high. The bright separated colors that once lay flatly on the wall are relieved of their duties and now dance across your face. Letters and sentences become visible and huge faces pop up from the jumble of bright yellows and hot pinks.

The new, almost graffiti-merged print style is deliberate and shows Whelihan’s impressive skill and talent. But not all agree with its placement at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Shelley Selstad, the concierge at the Minneapolis Convention Center said, “There has been controversy about it because people don’t get to have input on it.”

The mural was a donation to the Minneapolis Convention Center by the Greater Minneapolis Convention and Visitors Association, and has been criticized for many things. Its collage design, the blinding colors and the fact that Whelihan is from the suburbs, not Minneapolis, are some complaints, Selstad said.

“Public art means art in public places. It doesn’t mean public input. If people want to volunteer, we’ve always got hundreds of opportunities,” Minneapolis City Council member Lisa Goodman, 7th Ward, said in an interview with Skyway News, a weekly paper distributed in downtown Minneapolis.

Nevertheless, Whelihan’s piece is a masterpiece of creativity, insight and pure brilliance. He steps outside our neatly drawn lines and lays it all out as he sees it. The four seasons at the heart of Minnesota life are clearly portrayed. Diversity is represented throughout the image as well as sensitivity to age, culture and politics.

The mural is a major representation of Twin Cities culture. The colors and abstractness of the collage are based on the artist’s intuition that there are no boundaries. Art cannot be censored.

Regardless of whether the public chooses to accept it as a representation of the Twin Cities, it is definitely a prize and should be applauded for its distinctiveness and its accurate representation of Twin Cities culture, even if we have to put on 3-D glasses to see it in full.