Artists turning plywood into art dedicated to George Floyd

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On a day of remembrance for George Floyd, Ricardo Perez took up a brush and paints and began to create.

"We wanted to do art," he said. "We wanted to help the community heal."

So Perez, his friend Sebastian Rivera and several others joined artists across the Twin Cities who are turning plywood window coverings into art.

"Wood that was used for protection from destruction has now become art that can heal the community," he said.

Perez’s mural, with a portrait of Floyd at its center, is a sprawling piece of art, a sign of the times.

"Shedding light in some of the darkness created by the smoke," Perez explains. "There’s flames in there that are not necessarily destroying the city. It’s almost like a big embrace so everyone is a witness of what’s happening to George Floyd."

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The murals are popping up everywhere — from Lake Street in Minneapolis to University Avenue in St. Paul.

The artists, expressing their feelings about Floyd’s passing, with brushes, paint and love.

"I think it’s a beautiful memorial to the man who passed away last week," said Andrew Priest of Minneapolis.

Priest and his 3-year-old son Milo were looking over a large portrait of Floyd, just down the street from where Perez was working.

A lesson he hopes to hand down.

"It’s also important that he knows that it’s important to treat everyone the same way and we should care about everyone the same way, and we want everyone to be happy," Priest declares.

Along Hennepin Avenue in Uptown, numerous passersby paused to look at the murals and reflect.

All spontaneous, this burst of creativity after a tragic and destructive week.

"I’ve never seen this much love in a while," says Skylar Atuti, a Champlin photographer and graphic designer. "When I saw those images, I felt at home, I would say."

He says he sees inspiration and hope.

"It’s showing that not all protesters are violent or rioters, know what I’m saying?" he exclaims. "It’s more like trying to show a different way in what they believe."

Back on Lake Street, Perez signed his work.

"In memory of George Floyd. Rest in power," he wrote.

"People have stopped by to say thank you," Perez says. "They tell us what they think. One guy came by and did a rap video. Some folks did a photoshoot here."

Maybe the mural could end up in a museum someday, he wonders.

But for now, creating this work is enough.

The sorrows and sadness of this day, "soothed by the artist’s loving hand."

"This is historical," Perez says. "It’s a lot of love, so it feels good."