With recent renovations in Wadena businesses, some murals are in need of a new home.
The paintings are part of the "Murals of Minnesota," which were given to the city of Wadena almost 10 years ago, and dedicated in June 2019, during the sesquicentennial celebration. The "Murals of Minnesota" is considered the largest picture puzzle in the world and was brought to Wadena to help bring life to the community's alleys in a time when the downtown businesses had little front door access because of the reconstruction of Jefferson Street known then as the "Big Dig."
The whole idea came to fruition thanks to the work of Wadena resident Dave Evert. Evert saw the need was at hand as the construction was on its way. At the time, he owned what is now the A. H. Bernauer Building in Wadena, formerly JCPenney, and wanted to make sure business wouldn't die during construction. But if people were going to have to enter the rear of the buildings, work needed to be done to improve the looks of Wadena's alleys. The "Alley Art" project soon began and out of it came the immense puzzle work of paintings. They not only dressed up the alleys and often overlooked portions of town, they even were a draw to take a walk into the less traveled alleys in town.
Three murals were removed in winter 2018. One from the north side of Drastic Measures Brewing and two large scenes from the south and north sides of the future Super One building. The mural panels and are now housed in city storage ready for someone interested in displaying them.
The set of four images that came off the brewery building were painted by local artist Kent Scheer and depicted historic train scenes. A couple of those panels have reappeared on the inside of Drastic Measures Brewing, a bit of train art for the steampunk style decorating of the brewery building.
The mural formerly on the south side of the Super One building was painted by local artist Chuck Richards and depicted people of Wadena. The mural on the north side of the Super One building was by a Hmong artist from the Twin Cities, which depicts the emotions of immigration.
In all, about 40 artists worked to create 100 puzzle pieces. They share culture, 1,000 years of Minnesota history and faces of Wadena's residents.
Where to put them?
It appears most of the removed paintings are in a pile of 52 4-foot by 8-foot panels, like one giant stack of cards. That adds up to nearly 1,700 square feet of art that needs a place to be displayed.
While they can't fit just anywhere, just about anywhere that is large enough to hold them could be considered. The city is currently looking for a place where these three murals could go. If you know just the right spot, give the city a call at 631-7707.
Who actually owns the art has been a question up for debate since the artists began working on them. It seems they are a gift to the city, and those who own the buildings have the right to do as they wish them. As buildings age so does the art. Time and weather has taken a toll on some of the art as well.
How to see them
Head on over to the Wadena Chamber of Commerce for a map of the murals. This map, put together by the Wadena Convention & Visitors Bureau, takes you to about 18 different stops in town as you weave through the alleys of Wadena and view 1,000 years of Minnesota history. You'll see hunters, lumberjacks, miners, troops, farmers, firefighters, aviators, business, forefathers and more.
You can also see them by visiting this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3x-Jzso9iV4 which takes you to recently released Prairie Public feature on the murals.