In livid color: young artists create cityscape mural

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August 25, 2003 // UPDATED 11:03 am - April 30, 2007
By: Sarah McKenzie
Sarah McKenzie

The artists decided to paint the town yellow.

A three-panel, "cityscape" mural featuring the IDS Tower, the Hennepin Avenue Bridge, the Crown Theater sign and the Wells Fargo Center in yellow, black and white acrylic paint now hangs on a wall near the second-floor entrance to the Hard Rock Caf, by Block E's 7th Street and North 1st Avenue corner.

The mural is the work of Samantha Huston and Joy Vang, both 18 and recent graduates of Washburn High School in Southwest Minneapolis.

The petite artists --5 feet tall and 4-feet-11, respectively -- spent about a month working on the 12-by-6-foot painting. It took its prominent position in the new mall Aug. 13, and will remain there for approximately one year.

"I love it. It depicts Downtown," said Sue Bonin, Block E's general manager. "It's just nice to partner with the community on this. The kids were so enthusiastic."

Bonin sought area student artists to paint a cityscape last spring. She gave the students free rein to depict the city skyline in any manner they wished.

The students submitted a proposal to Nancy Oikonomou, chair of Washburn High School's art department. She accepted it and allowed them to use school art supplies and classroom space to complete the artwork.

The artists surveyed building images on the Internet, then sketched on the three canvases. They first painted the sky blue, but ran out of that paint color. Then, they opted for yellow.

"We didn't like the yellow at first. It looked green," Vang said. "But it kind of grew on us."

Huston painted the IDS Tower while Vang worked on the Wells Fargo Center. The former's style is marked by sharp and defined lines, while the latter's is softer and more blended around the edges.

At the official unveiling, the artists stood near their work with proud looks. The girls received a gift bag with certificates from Block E merchants, and Washburn received $500 for their work.

Huston and Vang both plan to attend the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in the spring. They said they want to study comic art. Both share a particular interest in Japanese animation.