Public Art in Saint Paul

Last weekend was an epic girls’ getaway with Liz, Robyn and Naomi and we spent a lot of our time in Saint Paul. It was Naomi’s last week in town before we steal her away from the 651, so she showed us to some of her favorite haunts. And Liz and I did a little exploring on our own as well.

We took lightrail into the city (yay, Green Line!) and did a ton of walking through Downtown and Lowertown. And as we were exploring, we noticed that Saint Paul had a ton of interesting public art.

Here are some of our favorites.

Saint-Paul-Public-Art-Colorful-Lowertown-Building

This colorful building is in Lowertown, near Union Depot, a beautifully restored bus, lightrail and Amtrak hub. The depot is gorgeous on its own, but it also houses some very cool public art, including a stunner by Saint Paul artist Ta-coumba Aiken.

It’s glowing because it’s constructed of Lite Brite pegs, the largest work of its kind in the world, according to the folks at The Guinness Book of World Records. You can read a little more about it here, if you’re so inclined.

Saint-Paul-Public-Art-Union-Depot

Naomi snapped this shot of us in front of it (you can find her on Twitter @NaomiOrre, if you want to see more of her photos) and it still makes me smile.

There was a moody, thoughtful one before it, but then somebody said something funny and Robyn laughed so hard she snorted (’cause that’s just what she does) and things quickly escalated from there. And this was before we even had a beer…

Saint-Paul-Public-Art-Inside-Out-Project
I love the arresting black and white photos from Inside Out Project. The images are on buildings all over Lowertown (this particular set is near The Bulldog on Wacouta) and they’re part of a world-wide movement.

Liz and I stumbled upon Urban Flower Field on our way to Tin Whiskers Brewing Company.

Saint-Paul-Public-Art-Urban-Flower-Field
A corner lot has been transformed into a sort of green gathering place, complete with paths and deck chairs to relax in. The sunflowers looked so striking against this vibrant backdrop.

On another day, Liz and I got off the train at Center and started walking Downtown. We found this colorful piano on the sidewalk a few blocks away on west 5th Street.

Saint-Paul-Street-Art-Public-Piano

Liz and I have this ongoing travel game where we take photos with statues. We started in Washington D.C. when we were 17 (those monuments proved just too tempting) and we now have an almost alarming number of photos of us mugging with statues in cities around the world. It’s gotten to the point where we’ll both see a statue in the distance and immediately start discussing who should take the photo and who should pose.

Yeah, we get some weird looks. We figure we’ll just ride it out until we’re old ladies and people will either find it charming or assume we have dementia.

Saint-Paul-Public-Art-Fountain

It was totally time to add Saint Paul to the mix. Here Liz poses with a fountain in Rice Park in downtown Saint Paul…

…while I found hockey coach Herb Brooks across the street…

Saint-Paul-Public-Art-Herb-Brooks-Statue

We ran into Linus and Sally (and the rest of the Peanuts gang) a few steps away in Landmark Park.

Saint-Paul-Public-Art-Peanuts-Characters

F. Scott Fitzgerald is one of my favorite authors (and a Saint Paul boy), so out of respect for his genius I didn’t take a picture with his life-size statue in Rice Park.

Saint-Paul-Public-Art-Fitzgerald-Statue

(Just kidding. I totally did. But I looked really dumb in all the photos, so this is where editing/revisionist history comes into play.)

And, since I always take photos of peace poles wherever I find them, I had to pause a moment by this one in Rice Park. I think our world needs as many prayers for peace as it can get.

Saint-Paul-Public-Art-Peace-Pole

One of the side effects of having a strange statue obsession is that it causes you to suddenly shout out strange things to your travel companion, which occasionally causes even the most jaded fellow pedestrians to crack a smile.

Joyfully exclaiming, “Liz, you totally need to ride that dinosaur!” is just one example of this phenomenon.

Saint-Paul-Public-Art-Dinosaur

This is Dylan. We found him (I think it’s a him!) in front of the McNally Smith College of Music. He’s rather festively decorated with the names and images of Twins Cities musicians. I guess we’re not the only ones to have this idea, since a sign on his tail scolds anyone who might be thinking of climbing on him.

If you’re interested in learning more about public art in the city, I encourage you to check out Public Art Saint Paul for a more comprehensive list of what the city has to offer.

Saint-Paul-Public-Art-Sidewalk

What are your favorite public art pieces, in Saint Paul or in your town? What neighborhoods or streets should I check out the next time I’m in town?

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