Theatre District Mural
Lanesboro Arts and Commonweal Theatre Company brought together over 200 community members of all ages in October 2019 to participate in the creation process of a large-scale Theatre District Mural to be installed on the south wall of the building at 204 Parkway Ave. N. in downtown Lanesboro.
Lanesboro is a unique rural community, in that it is home to two active theatres on its main street. Designed by artist Erik Pearson, with community input and ideas from a May 2019 brainstorming meeting, the Theatre District Mural celebrates the performing arts and highlights both theatres, but also honors and reflects the Lanesboro community’s rich heritage and traditions. During the brainstorming meeting, community stakeholders drew pictures of ideas for the mural, as well as wrote key aspects that they wanted represented in the design. Common themes were that people wanted the history of Lanesboro represented honoring nature, agriculture, townspeople, cultural and generational diversity, and more. Participants voiced opinions for the design to be bright, welcoming, inspiring, and colorful. The design Pearson created includes both fictional and real people from Lanesboro based off research and historical photos.
The mural’s design was painted onto parachute cloth, a canvas-like material, and was rolled up and placed into storage. After delays caused by the COVID 19 Pandemic and weather concerns, the painted cloth was installed adjacent to the St. Mane Theatre and the Commonweal Theatre in May of 2023 in a manner similar to applying wallpaper. You can find out more about the Theatre District Mural here.
Theatre Seats at the St. Mane
Thanks to the generosity of Mayo Clinic, through the ingenuity of Mayo’s Office of Sustainability, theatre seats previously used in Judd Hall were donated to Lanesboro Arts for installation in the St. Mane Theatre in November 2019 and were installed in December of that same year. With classic maroon upholstery and wood backings & arm rests, the seats fit the St. Mane Theatre aesthetic wonderfully.
The set of 120 vintage theatre seats previously installed in the St. Mane Theatre were given to an old ballroom rehabilitation project in a rural Wisconsin community.
“Colors of Bluff Country” Mural
This family-friendly project on the back of the St. Mane Theatre happened in conjunction with a grant that Lanesboro Arts received from the National Association of Realtors for placemaking in support of Surprise Sculpture, a youth program offering artistic exploration and construction site-specific sculptures for public spaces, as well as support from the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation. Projects range from large wire spider webs in the bluffs to drawings in vacant storefront windows to an enormous dragonfly made out of upcycled and recycled materials. Surprise Sculpture aims to increase the beauty of overlooked places in the community, encourage walkability, and foster public interaction.
Ideas for the mural were brainstormed by community members and Surprise Sculpture students in March of 2017 and was painted by community members with the help of GoodSpace Murals, a Minneapolis-based artist collective. “Lanesboro Arts is thrilled to be collaborating with an established arts and culture organization. They were easily able to take the many designs community members had proposed and unify them into one impactful work of art,” said Kara Maloney, Surprise Sculpture’s Educational Lead. GoodSpace Murals designs large and small-scale exterior paint murals, engages in community collaborated creation processes, and guides participants in processes to connect communities through artistic creation.
The mural is the fifth community engagement public art project in Lanesboro, following the 2001/2011 Bronze Medallion Tour, 2005 Theatre Construction Wall Mural, 2014 Lanesboro Library Mural, and the 2014 Haiku Poetry Parking Lot.
St. Mane Theatre Upper Level Renovation
The St. Mane renovation project was completed in the summer of 2014. Air quality was improved with basement/foundation repairs, and the second floor was renovated for an artist-in-residence studio and apartment, and performer dressing rooms.
The upstairs studio is now a large open room ideal for classes, meetings, and other events. Comfortably accommodating up to 30 people, the space includes a utility sink, a kitchenette (refrigerator, stove, microwave), eight stools along the counter, three 6-foot tables, and 16 folding chairs. Rental of the Upper Level of the St. Mane is available to the general public, as scheduling and resources allow.
If you are interested in renting the St. Mane Theatre for your event, read more here.
In 2012, the city of Lanesboro renovated the library, leaving a blank wall. The library received a Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council grant of nearly $7,000 and used additional local money to create a community mural.
Led by Rochester-based painter Luisa Luis-Grill, community members painted the mural in 2014. The theme was “Libraries Grow Community.” In preparation for this project, Grill and the Lanesboro Library Board asked for input from the community about what their library means to them and what they’d like to see in a mural and incorporated their suggestions. The mural features trout, bald eagles, people canoeing and tubing the Root River, the Coffee Street Bridge, bikers on the Root River Trail, and the local B & Bs.
Historic Restoration of Gallery Façade
With the help of the Minnesota Historical Society, Lanesboro Arts was able to successfully restore the historic 1879 building façade, add vibrant historic paint colors to grab attention off the street and install grand double doors in the entrance to enhance the gallery experience. The efforts improved visibility of artists’ work, climate control of the building, and made the space more inviting for visitors.
The 2013 restoration included restoring the gallery façade to its original illustriousness, with fully repaired masonry and mortar joints. The historic storefront windows were restored, replacing the single pane glazing with insulated glass. All exterior wood and window surrounds were sanded, primed and painted with historically accurate paint colors. The front door was replaced with a replica of the original full height, glazed double doors.
Previously, the failing historic 1879 building façade included the historic storefront windows, as well as portions of brick and mortar allowing interior moisture seepage. Fully transformed, the restored and properly completed work ensures the integrity of the façade for years to come. As a facet of the Lanesboro Historic District, the renovation inspired many compliments, as well as sparked neighbors and other building owners in the district to begin their own restoration campaigns.
Lanesboro’s walkability was greatly enhanced with the addition of wayfinding and connectivity elements such as artful signage, art experience loops, and the Poetry Parking Lot. Clear, intuitive pedestrian routes utilized well defined paths to improve route legibility.
Consistent signage designed by Archetype is seen throughout the downtown, such as the wayfinding signs at the Country Road 8 underpass. Signage in Gateway Park, the haiku & information kiosk signs at the Poetry Parking Lot, and the Lanesboro History Series sign for the Historic Coffee Street Walking Bridge, also follow the design.
In 2011, signs with sculptural elements designed by local artist Karl Unnasch were added by the city of Lanesboro to improve wayfinding and walkability. The cast iron and aluminum signs feature symbols of the Egg, Berry, and Nut, and were chosen for their elemental significance to life cycles, nourishment, and natural potential.
The welcome sign located on County Road 8 follows the uniform design, providing a neighborly welcome to the town of Lanesboro.
In 2021, Lanesboro Arts invested in the creation of an outdoor gathering space, dubbed Parkway Place, in the gravel lot across from the gallery on Parkway Avenue. In collaboration with the Lanesboro Area Chamber of Commerce, the Lanesboro Economic Development Authority, and Private Property owner, Andy Bunge, Lanesboro Arts transformed this previously vacant space into an artful outdoor seating destination in a central hub of the Lanesboro community. This space features picnic tables generously painted by the local boy Scouts, lush planters to beautify the space, and a mural as vibrant as the community that inspired it!
Summer 2021 intern, Kiara Hohn, created the mural, which features bright floral motifs and a winding representation of the Root River that frame the town’s name in bold letters. Hohn was inspired by the beauty of Lanesboro’s natural surroundings. Throughout her internship, as the mural took shape, Hohn got to connect with the community as she worked, saying “It was so fun having the community be able to watch my process as I painted, and so many people stopped by to say how much they liked it! Everyone so far has been so happy with it and I’m so glad.”
Parkway Avenue and Coffee Street Banners
Lanesboro arts and the City of Lanesboro hired artist Cindy Lindgren to design new lamp post banners to line Parkway Avenue and Coffee Street. The project was made possible through funding from the Lanesboro Area Community Foundation.
These vibrant and artfully designed banners showcase the town’s strengths through imagery that reflects Lanesboro’s diverse small businesses, recreational activities, agricultural heritage, and year-round arts and culture activity. The banners celebrate these elements of the Lanesboro community, while increasing its visual beauty, encouraging walkability, and fostering public art interaction. They were erected just in time for the 2022 Rhubarb festival.
There are many different designs, from Rhubarb stalks and theater masks to building façades and bright green fish. Each captures a specific facet of what makes Lanesboro an authentically distinct destination and vibrant community. These evergreen banners will stand for years to come, sharing what is authentic about our community with visitors and residents alike.
Cindy Lindgren was inspired by the area’s traditions and natural and agricultural surroundings. She illustrates in a style she terms “craftsman nouveau,” as she is inspired both by traditional arts and crafts movements and the elegant simplicity of more contemporary styles. She has loved to draw since she was a kid growing up in Iowa. Now, from her studio in Minneapolis she creates illustrations, as well as fabric and wallpaper designs, for clients and shops across the Midwest.