The City of Bloomington will soon have new art by Ua Si Creative. The WE mural will be located in the South Loop neighborhood on the 9000-square-foot walls at the corner of American Boulevard and 30th Avenue South.
"We are so pleased to announce that a stakeholder panel selected Ua Si Creative as the curator and producer of the WE mural in South Loop. Ua Si’s thoughtful process for artist selection and coordination, approach to the theme, and engagement with the community will result in a captivating mural that will highlight stories, enhance the walkability of the area, and contribute to the vibrancy of the South Loop," said Alejandra Pelinka, Bloomington’s director of creative placemaking.
Ua Si Creative was selected by the City of Bloomington and Artistry to curate and produce the South Loop mural in 2019, but had to hold off the execution of the project until COVID-19 restrictions eased. Ua Si Creative is a collective started by Ka Oskar Ly, Christina Vang, and Teeko Yang that promotes culture, creativity and play to create meaningful experiences.
"Art deepens connections between people and places by intersecting culture and creativity. We’re excited to partner with the City and Artistry to bring this vision to life and are hopeful this will inspire more community-powered investments for the wellbeing of local residents," said Ka Oskar Ly, Ua Si co-founder.
The theme of the mural, titled WE, reimagines the South Loop of Bloomington—past, present and future. South Loop is a place that houses many things, including intersections, creativity, diversity and growth. The mural intertwines narratives, roots and futures by intersecting differences and commonalities.
Our truths, validated through experiences, live in our bodies, our words, our actions. These realities have pushed us together yet apart, breaking our spirits, searching for hope. WE find common ground when we listen, empathize and share stories. WE is a mural tapestry weaving the abundance of these narratives as depicted by local BIPOC and womxn artists.
Selected artists will execute the mural from August to September with a Sunset Block Party to celebrate the completion of the mural. Read below to learn more about the selected artists.
Thank you to the following partners for their support: Forecast Public Art, McGough, Metro Transit and Xcel Energy.
Marlena Myles is a self-taught Native American (Spirit Lake Dakota/Mohegan/Muscogee) artist located in St Paul, Minnesota. Her art brings modernity to indigenous history, languages and oral traditions. Growing up on her traditional Dakota homelands here in the Twin Cities, she enjoys using her artwork to teach Minnesotans of all backgrounds the indigenous history of this place we call home. Her professional work includes children’s books, fabrics, animations and fine art in galleries such as the Minneapolis Institute of Art, The Museum of Russian Art, Red Cloud Heritage Center and the Minnesota Museum of American Art to name a few. In 2021, she opened her own Dakota publishing company called Wíyouŋkihipi (We Are Capable) Productions to create a wider platform that educates and honors the culture, language and history of Dakota people. Photo courtesy of Marlena Myles
Martzia Thometz has been making art since 2008. As a self-taught, Minneapolis-based visual artist with a background in graffiti, Martzia works predominantly with aerosol, acrylic and ink. Her trademark imagery seeks to exist between the elemental contrasts of “soft” and “hard”. Her goal is to connect and heal others and herself while creating hope for a better tomorrow for all. Revamping walls from Spain to Wynwood, and anywhere in-between. She has painted during Art Basel in Miami, X-Games, Soundset Music Festival, and ChromoZone Festival. Her commissioned pieces can be seen throughout the Twin Cities’ neighborhoods, working mostly to brighten the walls of small businesses, from tattoo shops to daycare centers. Her work shows adaptability and personal evolution in an uncertain world. Photo courtesy of Martzia Thometz
Xee Reiter is a self-taught artist specializing in watercolor, pen and ink illustrations. As a first generation Hmong American, you can largely find cultural influences in her works. Her artistic exploration includes but is not limited to portraiture, children’s book illustrations, art journaling, mural art, typography and calligraphy works. She has created art for organizations such as TPT PBS, The Minnesota Museum of American Art, Minnesota Public Radio, The Ordway and Hmong Museum to connect community through her artistry and visual storytelling. Xee will be partnering with Andres Guzman on their mural. Photo courtesy of Xee Reiter
Andrés Guzmán is an artist with a focus in graphic design and illustration. Born in Lima, Peru, he moved to Minneapolis in 2006 and attended MCAD. His distinct brush style is largely created using India ink due to its permanency though he does not limit himself to any one visual style or process. His body of work is rooted in pursuing social justice in the form of publications, murals and commissions near and far from the community in which he calls home. Andres will be partnering with Xee Reiter on their mural. Image courtesy of Andres Guzman
Reggie LeFlore is a visual artist who creates to praise individual and collective stories through human portraiture. His subject matter centers around “everyday people”, crafting portraits with vibrant colors and contemporary elements that aim to capture the energy and spirit of his subjects’ stories. LeFlore’s inspirations are drawn from the concepts and philosophies of Street Art culture and Illustration - using aerosol, acrylic paint and various graphic design techniques to construct pieces in varying styles, scales and surfaces. He uses visual arts to amplify both his surrounding environments and the narratives contained within them. Photo courtesy of Reggie LeFlore
City Mischief Murals is a Black, Indigenous, Latinx & Pacific Islander artist collective. The mission is to produce murals and creative projects with a primary focus on leadership opportunities for youth and healing through art for communities of color in the Twin Cities. City Mischief artists have experience in planning large scale murals, live exhibition painting, fundraising, custom canvas work and community events. Image courtesy of Thomasina Topbear
About the South Loop District
South Loop is a rapidly developing neighborhood in Bloomington, which is adjacent to Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport, and home to Mall of America, a 50-acre mixed-use development called Bloomington Central Station, and the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. SoLo, as it is sometimes called, has seen a big uptick in the amount of residential redevelopment with eight projects in various stages of planning to leasing. The continued implementation of Creative Placemaking in SoLo will add new vibrancy to the district. For more information, visit blm.mn/southloop.
About Creative Placemaking in the South Loop District
The City of Bloomington in partnership with Artistry are working to build a sense of community in Bloomington’s South Loop through creative placemaking. Appointed by the City and Artistry, the Creative Placemaking Commission’s vision is that sustained creative placemaking efforts will establish the South Loop as a distinctive destination known for welcoming creative people and using the arts to transform the neighborhood physically, socially, and culturally. Goals include: Urbanism, Animation, Involvement, Identity, Leadership, and Investment. For more information, visit blm.mn/placemaking.
Artistry is an independent theater and visual arts nonprofit that serves a regional audience of more than 94,000 people annually. In pursuit of artistic excellence, Artistry engages the region’s most talented artists in work that welcomes and develops audiences and opens hearts and minds.
Artistry’s vision is a diverse, distinctive, and progressive community widely recognized for making art and artists essential to a vibrant social fabric and civic life.