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Allison's garden

Artist unveils Monticello mural

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Growing up, Allison Hunsley wanted to be an artist.

As a 5-year-old, she remembers taking small pieces of paper cut from scrap paper and creating a circus scene.

It was a beautiful picture that stood out among the creations of other children, who created indistinguishable mosaics from the pieces of paper.

Allison took many art classes in high school at St. Michael-Albertville High School.

It was during her junior year that the STMA grad won a silver medals in the national Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.

Her drawing, Human Preservation, was selected as a silver medal winner from among 320,000 works of art submitted. Only the top 1 percent of the entries were recognized at the national level- with Allison being one of those.

The contest opened up a wonderful world of artistic opportunity for the young artist. As a silver award winner, Allison had an opportunity to attend a summer workshop at the Minnesota College of Art and Design between her junior and senior years.

“I got to spend three weeks living in a dorm and learning about art at an art school for free,” Allison said.

Prior to the experience at the Minnesota College of Art and Design, Allison had done primarily drawings and sketches.

“While there, it was the first time I ever painted,” Allison said.

Little did Allison know that about three years later she would be turning heads with her art on one of the busiest intersections in Central Minnesota.

Allison is the artistic mind behind Monticello’s latest mural at the intersection of Highway 25 and Broadway Street in downtown Monticello.

If 20-year-olds can have bucket lists, its the painting of a mural that Allison says was on the top of her list.

She crossed that off her bucket list a year ago when she was commissioned to paint a mural at the Buffalo antique store, Second Hand Rose. She painted a vintage truck on the side of the business’ building to comemorate its 24th anniversary.

“I shot an email to Second Hand Rose and told them I always wanted to paint a mural. I got an message back saying that doing a mural sounds fun,” Allison said.

Allison was grateful for the opportunity.

“They put all their faith in me,” Allison said of Second Hand Rose.

When Sue Seeger and the Monticello Arts Initiative (Monti Arts) went looking for a mural artist to paint a wall on Clarence McCarty’s building at 108 W. Broadway St., the home of Clancy’s Outdoors, she was steered in Allison’s direction by people who had seen her work in buffalo.

“That’s how Sue found me,” Allison said.

Seeger reached out to Allison by email and discussed plans for a mural at the Clancy’s building. Then this past winter the two met at Starbucks.

“I left with the gig,” Allison said.

The mural was to be funded through a grant from the Central Minnesota Arts Board.

“I didn’t know artists getting grants was a thing,” Allison confessed.

Under the CMAB grant, there were no parameters for what Allison would paint.

“They gave me no direction. I was allowed to paint what ever I wanted,” she said.

Allison’s goal was to add to the corner of Highway 25 and Broadway Street something that would brighten people’s days.

“I wanted to use a style that was new to me, so I gravitated to the style of street art,” she said.

Never before had Allison painted a project using nothing but spray paint, but street art resembles graffiti art, which is done with cans of spray paint.

“I took the plunge,” Allison said.

Allison says she enjoys painting with bright colors. She also is mindful that people enjoy floral art.

“So I took the best of both in approaching the mural,” she said.

Seeger says it has been a pleasure having Allison work on a Monticello project.

“She’s probably the most hard working and talented young woman I’ve ever encountered,” Seeger said of the full-time college student who is majoring in design with an art minor. Allison also has a part-time job managing social media for accounts for three companies, and is starting her professional art career.

“She’s an absolute dynamo and I think we’re lucky to get her early in her career,” Seeger said.

Monticello is hoping to have Allison back for another project.

The Monticello Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which neighbors the Clancy’s building, is interested in extending the mural to its building.

On Monday, June 10, the Monticello City Council authorized a project for the Chamber building at 205 Pine Street to be funded by the Chamber.

Reach Jeff Hage at


Jeff Hage is the editor of the Monticello Times newspaper in Monticello, Minn. He came to Monticello after seven years at our sister papers in Princeton and Milaca.

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