All posts tagged: Minneapolis

“I Can’t Breathe!”:  Answering the Call with Art on the Streets / Dispatch From Isolation # 71

“I Can’t Breathe!”: Answering the Call with Art on the Streets / Dispatch From Isolation # 71

The murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis on Monday, the murder of Ahmaud Arbery while jogging in Georgia in February, the racist threats and intimidation toward Christian Cooper over the Memorial Day Holiday while he was merely “birding” in Central Park in New York City, Breonna Taylor shot, unarmed in her apartment in March in Louisville; These are the recent examples, but there are more, thousands more…

Unidentified artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Street artists and graffiti writers around the world are responding visually to current events with new works on the street. Sometimes it is a full-blown community mural or a hand-posted sign. Other times it is the scrawl of a vandal in text – a visual equivalent to a scream in the night. When it comes to issues of race and identity, many so-called western societies are now adding a deliberate massive social and economic dislocation to the cauldron; one where nearly the whole of the middle class is sliding into serfdom – and the police are acting like a military.  

Eme Freethinker did this mural of George Floyd in Berlin (Picture Alliance/Nurphoto/© O. Messinger)
Unidentified artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)

A street artist from one of the centers of this national uprising who goes by the name HOT TEA tells us about a project he just took to the streets.

“I had to do something for George, being that I live in Minneapolis and am so fed up with police harassment and injustice,” he says. We projected his image on very iconic Minneapolis structures. The feedback while they were being projected was overwhelmingly positive and everyone wanted to help. We need to stick together and make sure that change starts to finally happen.”

Hot Tea. Minneapolis. (photo © Hot Tea)
Unidentified artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Syrian artists Aziz Asmar and Anis Hamdoun created this mural depicting George Floyd, in the town of Binnish in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province on June 1, 2020. (Photo by OMAR HAJ KADOUR / AFP)
Unidentified artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)
Hot Tea. Minneapolis. (photo © Hot Tea)
Hot Tea. Minneapolis. (photo © Hot Tea)
Hot Tea. Minneapolis. (photo © Hot Tea)
Artists Niko Alexander, Cadex Herrera, Greta McLain, Xena Goldman, Pablo Helm Hernandez in front of their mural where George Floyd was killed in front of Cup Foods. (courtesy Cadex Herrera)

Berlin-based graffiti crew 1UP did this whole-car message as a protest and a show of unity for social justice .

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Broken Crow Knock Out 4 New Murals for “The Bigger Picture” in St. Paul

Minneapolis based Street Artists John Grider and Mike Fitzsimmons, known together as Broken Crow, have just completed a jigsaw-style stencil installation at four locations along St. Paul’s central corridor that, when seamed together, create a 60-foot long stampede of wildlife charging along University Avenue. Using the trademark stencil illustration style they’ve employed on 126 murals over the last decade, this enormous wildlife composition includes a lion, camel, rhino, zebra, tortoise, and penguin running alongside others to accompany the light rail that is being built to whiz by here.

It’s an unusual concept and the resulting video of all four locations being installed simultaneously really makes this newly released time-lapse video especially entertaining (see below). A public works project called “The Bigger Picture Project”, each mural contains a QR code that will trigger images compiled by photographer Benjamin Clasen of what the entire project looked like from the vantage point of the guy who shot 30,000 photos of it.

Broken Crow, “The Bigger Picture Project”, (detail of a composite image of the four walls together) (photo © Benjamin Clasen)

Brooklyn Street Art talked to both artists and the photographer about the Bigger Picture; 

Brooklyn Street Art: Are you imagining people traveling to all four sites and looking at each installation to combine them?
John Grider:
The 4 walls are all on the same transit line/main thoroughfare between the downtown areas of St Paul and Minneapolis on University Avenue, which has been under construction for what feels like years now. I’m actually really excited about riding the light rail once it’s done just to see the murals all together because they were designed for the new trains to be the ideal viewing area.

Brooklyn Street Art: Can you talk about the preparation for the project? Did you cut all these stencils by hand?
John Grider: We spent over a year planning and preparing for The Bigger Picture Project from start to finish. We cut all the stencils by hand, which took about a month, and it took us around 6 months making and refining drawings for it before that.

Broken Crow “The Bigger Picture Project”  (photo © Benjamin Clasen)

Brooklyn Street Art: Mike, your stencil work for the last few years has created portraits of many animals – sometimes as metaphor, sometimes as straightforward documentation.  Is there one that appears more often than others?
Mike Fitzsimmons: We both have many favorites.  John loves to paint rams and big cats and I like to paint bears and penguins.  They all have very different reasons for being favorites. For example I like that penguins are very curious creatures that only survive the cold through their community efforts.  Plus they make me laugh both in real life and my artwork.  I like bears because they have adapted so diversely for survival.  A panda bear has adapted a thumb for breaking bamboo whereas, a polar bear has translucent fur to deceive and hunt seals.

Brooklyn Street Art: What is one of the newer ones you really connect to?
Mike Fitzsimmons: If I had to pick a favorite it would be the polar bear.  I had a moment of and clarity about this entire project that I wont forget while painting the polar bear fur.  I was beating myself up about my color choices.  I went down the ladder, took steps back and realized that it was exactly what I wanted it to look like.  All I had to do is take my sunglasses off.

I also really liked that in this composition we were finally able to paint an elephant in a way that it could never be mistaken for a political mascot.

Broken Crow “The Bigger Picture Project”  (photo © Benjamin Clasen)

One of the four walls in progress as Broken Crow completed this portion of “The Bigger Picture Project” in St. Paul, Minnesota this month.  (photo © Benjamin Clasen)

Brooklyn Street Art: Ben, as a photographer, this was a huge undertaking to capture all the action and then seam it all together. Was it clear to you what it would look like from the beginning, or did it reveal itself as the project moved forward?

Ben Clasen: Our preparation and organization evolved as we thought of new ideas. As the project got underway, we tried to consider everything and control as much of the outcome as we could: Mike and I scouted each location 4 times, and did a lot of measuring. Once we figured out the shape for the final composited building, I think we all fell in love with it.

We had a good plan for the layout of the 4 corners — in each case we were planning for a tolerance of 6 inches — I think we matched our layout within an inch and a half for each wall. We scouted for the path of the sun and knew when and where it would appear in the frame shot.

I feel like I had a good idea of what the final time-lapse would look like as we got down to shooting. Having said that, it was the organic stuff that happened, the stuff we couldn’t control, that created some of my favorite parts of the composite video. I love how the clouds, moving at different rates on the different days, add an old-school cinematic projector feel to portions of the frame. I love the interactions of the ladders and the seeming army of painters across the four simultaneous walls — there is a portion where John’s head and arms on the top-left wall seem to sit atop his body from the bottom-right wall.

Controlling everything is science. Letting stuff happen is where art comes from.

Broken Crow “The Bigger Picture Project”  (photo © Benjamin Clasen)

Brooklyn Street Art: Do you prefer the still images of the finished work alone or the ones with the guys creating the pieces?
Ben Clasen: That is a tough call; It’s like choosing a favorite among your children. There are so many wonderful vignettes of the guys in process — literally thousands of them. I feel like a real story is told by compressing the four days into single moments that you can sample at any given time. The human interaction with the murals I think is the essence of what street art is all about.

I felt compelled to go back to the walls to photograph the individual final pieces, and assemble The Bigger Picture under optimal lighting conditions, because in many ways it is the only way to put the pieces of the puzzle together. The composite scene is beautiful and full of character, representative of the neighborhoods in which they were painted. I love watching people’s reactions to seeing the composite photograph of the finished scene: there is an initial reaction to the whole of the work — “This is a beautiful mural…” and then there is a second reaction, “Oh goodness, those are separate buildings!”

Broken Crow “The Bigger Picture Project”  (photo © Benjamin Clasen)

The completed 4-part composited mural by Broken Crow, entitled “The Bigger Picture Project”  (photo © Benjamin Clasen)

Here is the Video Debut on BSA of Broken Crow’s “The Bigger Picture Project” by Benjamin Clasen

If you are in St. Paul you can scope the murals out in person 633 University Avenue, 651 University Avenue, and both sides of 2145 University Avenue.

All photos are copyright © Benjamin Clasen. Learn more about him at

“The Bigger Picture” by Broken Crow was financed in part by the Cultural Sales Tax Revitalization Program through the City of St. Paul and is a collaboration of Irrigate.

Learn more about this project at

Broken Crow’s latest show “We Did What We Could”, opens Friday June 15 at XYandZ Gallery. Learn more about Broken Crow at


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Purth in Minneapolis, “What Kind of Woman Are You?”

Street Artist Purth relies on her intuition when scouting walls to spread out on, favoring wide open spaces and sweeping vistas, in basically unknown or forgotten locations.  Deeply connected to her pieces, her imaginative backstories for them, and the process of creating, Purth confidently claims space on a wall without necessarily covering every inch. In this way, the work is as much about location and history as it is about the new work.

Purth in North Minneapolis, Minnesota (photo © Greg Carideo)

While in Minnesota last week Purth completed a 12 foot by 60 foot wall on the border of North Minneapolis with a piece she calls “What Kind of Woman Are You?”.  The large distorted figure lies on her side with a small constellation of thoughts and dreams and energy bursts dragging along behind her. Purth already had a story in mind for the figure, but only after she had started the piece did she learn that this location was the site of a huge number of homicides, and her figure faced an old gas station with and ignominious past.

Purth (photo © Greg Carideo)

Purth gives BSA more background to these somewhat haunting photographs here:

“Minneapolis has always been an important location for me. Its creative voice has influenced me greatly over the years. Many little details fell into place last month and I was able to complete this work on the fly with the help of a close friend and the support of a few locals.

The piece was an idea I had a while back that developed into much more once I had found the location. That’s usually how it goes … the work takes on its own form based on where it makes its home.

This wall was amazing too. I learned a day or two after I had begun painting that it sits directly across from “The Old Colony” gas station, this strange spot bordering North Minneapolis. It has an enormous glowing bee hive in front of it and the reputation of being the site for the most homicides in the area.

She faces it directly and I think knowing that made the work, or my presence there, feel more severe. Feels as though she growing into her own now, like she’ll bear witness to more than I can even imagine … or hopefully earn her wings (filthy, soot covered wings, but wings none the less). I guess there is something haunting and mysterious about this one, even to me.”

Purth (photo © Greg Carideo)

Purth (photo © Purth)

Purth (photo © Purth)

Purth (photo © Greg Carideo)

The Minneapolis sky with the obscured Purth wall to the left. (photo © Greg Carideo)

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Broken Crow, “When Trust Is the New Money”


A neighborly nod to the Minneapolis Street Art duo Broken Crow for this successful indoor show, “When Trust Is the New Money” at The XY and Z Gallery in South Minneapolis. Now extended to November 30th, this is an opportunity to see a large indoor installation that evokes the mural work they usually do on the street, transforming the interior of the white box and enabling you to buy part of the mural directly off the wall.


In an ongoing evolution of their stenciling realism style, John and Mike are again meditating on the preposterous value system that allows man to destroy the natural world with impunity, with a dose of gentle humor.  Their archetype animals depict integrity, puzzlement, and whimsy. Like many artists developing a vocabulary, they re-employ their favorites again and again in different configurations and tableaux.


BSA had the pleasure to meet these gents in Brooklyn last year and they had us at “Hello”. With a sweet disposition and effortless-looking execution, their priority is painting. No drama, no gossip, no classist kid stuff; They won’t blather or diss and what-not, what-have-you, or whats-for-supper. Well, maybe whats-for-supper. Painting is what they like and that’s what keeps them focused. Proud fathers and loving husbands, these guys juggle their time so they can fulfill family obligations and have plenty of time to stop and smell the aerosol along the way.

If you find yourself in The Twin Cities run to catch the show. XY and Z Gallery is located at 3258 Minnehaha Ave South in Minneapolis. Below is a recent interview Broken Crow did –

P.O.S. on Broken Crow

Doomtree Rapper Interviews Two of His Favorite Local Artists

By Stefon Alexander Wednesday, Oct 27 2010

If you’re not familiar with the work of Twin Cities-based art team Broken Crow, it wouldn’t be too difficult to get up to speed. In the last few years they have managed to paint walls on four continents, everything heavily documented. A quick Google search pulls up tons of images and time-lapse video clips of their signature style: massive and intricately detailed stencils covering urban structures, barns in the middle of nowhere, and everything in between.

Click here to continue reading

Images courtesy and copyright of Broken Crow. See Broken Crow’s Flickr page here:

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Broken Crow’s Self Portrait for the Auction

These fellas have a good grasp on stencils, if not fashion. The natural world frequently is at odds with the man-made, and the topic is always munching and crunching around the pieces that Minneapolis duo Broken Crow do.

This piece is obviously a farce – John would never wear blue headphones – but otherwise the likenesses are uncanny.  The second self portrait is even more entertaining, if you can imagine.  We are so pleased that these talented muralists were willing to participate in the Street Art New York Silent Auction Benefit and to give their work so generously.


See more pieces from the auction at

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Broken Crow “The Lion Man”

From Mike Fitzsimmons and John Grider, two street art stencil artists known as Broken Crow, comes this colorful mural called “The Lion Man” that they created last summer.

A recurring theme in the Broken Crow approach to story-telling is a reclamation of the man-made world by the natural one. Realistic animals express distinct personalities and opinions about what our grand blind ineptness. In a merging of the animal kingdom with ours this piece uses the body of Charlie, their model, and supplants his head with a lions’ as he crawls along the wall on all fours.

Aside from the coolness factor, the benefits of seeing how work is produced in a time-lapse video are myriad for both the fans as well as the artists. Questions about technique that you may have had can be quickly answered, and subsequent murals can be improved by the artist by observing themselves in action.

This video is really nicely done by Benjamin Clasen of Saint Paul, the sister city of Minneapolis, MN, where Broken Crow hail from.

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