‘Healing’ artwork saved from walls of demolished Minneapolis Kmart

Healing artwork saved from walls of demolished Kmart

Volunteers from Minneapolis food shelf Source MN are reconnecting the puzzle pieces of murals that used to adorn the walls of the former Lake Street Kmart before the building was reduced to rubble last week.

“A bit of a memorial of what happened in 2020,” said Source MN Executive Director Peter Wohler, or “Pastor Peter,” on Friday as he stood in front of the painted plywood panels that were still in the process of being hung on the exterior of the Fallout Art Co-op building — a few blocks from the former Kmart site.

The murals tell stories of the neighborhood, the city and the state leading up to their creation in 2020, when the panels were first used to board up the windows of the Kmart.

“So it kind of created a canvas,” Wohler said.

That canvas soon came to represent the chaos of the time: A city, like every other, hit by COVID-19 and job loss. Then, George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police in May, dissolving the surrounding area into unrest.

Kmart decided to close its doors for good a month earlier planned shortly thereafter. Although the building was largely considered an eyesore, it was also the neighborhood grocery store, leaving another gap at a trying time.

That’s where Wohler stepped in, “doing as much as we could to give away food.”

“That was just a simple, physical need that was there,” he said.

The remaining emotional needs, though, were not as simple to address, he added.

“It was, ‘What is the hope of the future?’ ‘What can we stand on when everything breaks down, when the neighborhood literally does burn down around you?'” he continued.

Ultimately, they turned to art as a form of “healing,” Wohler said, commissioning artists near and far to paint a 400-foot prayer wall with a built-in message to “Remember, honor and forgive.”

“I know it brought the community together. I know we saw a lot of tears. We still see tears,” he reflected. “But, it’s hope for light to come into darkness.”

The plan is to have the rest of the panels up on the wall of the co-op within the next couple of weeks.

It likely won’t be the permanent home of the artwork, Wohler said, but the plan is to preserve the pieces of Minneapolis history for generations to come.