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Street artists turn Crystal driveway into pop-up art gallery

Beth McDonough
Updated: June 24, 2020 10:27 PM
Created: June 24, 2020 08:52 PM

It's not something you see on a street corner in Crystal every day.

A driveway along 34th and Lee avenues north that looks more like a pop-up art gallery. Popular muralist Shawn McCann lives there. 

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"When you create in a public realm, it allows people to randomly stumble upon it and that's been the best thing, seeing people drive by, they stop, back up and want to see it more," McCann said. 

That includes cars full of curious neighbors who slowed down in the street to take in the explosion of colors on the corner lot. Michele McDonald happened to walk by and was blown away. 

"It's bringing a lot of joy to the neighborhood, it's fun to see what they're able to create," she said.

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Nate Baranowski is an internationally renowned street artist and longtime friend of McCann's. Baranowski brought his imagination and paint on the plane to Minnesota to help McCann get a head start on several eight-foot by eight-foot murals. The paintings will be displayed at the Chalk Art Festival at Arbor Lakes which has been postponed until the end of August. 

"Each one of these is a day's work, about eight hours for the whole thing. For these bigger pieces, especially for street art, you really have to think about viewing it from far back," Baranowski replied when asked how long it takes from start to finish a vertical mural.

McCann said normally they prepare in studios, not in someone's driveway, but they've enjoyed people's reactions to the temporary set up. 

"I think art has a powerful message; no matter what you look at in architecture, everything in our life has been touched by an artist of some sort, it can relay powerful messages of hope, love and beautifying the world," he said. 

Baranowski painted two murals before he had to fly home to Chicago. 

"There's nothing more grassroots than painting in Shawn's yard and people driving by and rolling down the window, so that's pretty cool, that's the kind of accessible, approachable art I enjoy," he said.

As McCann finished up one of his projects, he smiled as he said, "when a new mural comes to town it's like you're getting a piece of art for the living room, just the living room is the community."

McCann said 20 to 30 murals will be displayed at the Chalk Art Festival at Arbor Lakes in Maple Grove on the weekend of August 29.  Three blocks of the shopping district will be closed for the pavement painting party.  


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