Colorful paintings now decorate two crosswalks on Eighth Avenue South, which has transformed into a pedestrian-friendly art walk known as the Artery, in Hopkins. The artists are Morgan Roehl, an incoming senior at Hopkins High School, and Shawn McCann, a professional street and mural artist.
“It really enlivens the community when you bring that artistic element to a space that is traditionally just boring and nobody pays attention to,” McCann said.
McCann painted the crosswalk where Eighth Avenue turns into a one-way at First Street South. The art depicts a river that flows into a waterfall, which spills over into lush greenery and a cityscape.
The waterfall has a 3D effect when viewed by pedestrians from a specific marked vantage point. Passerby who sit on the ground on the painted life preserver will look like they are about to plunge over the edge of the waterfall. It will make for an attractive photo opportunity, according to the artist.
“I wanted to create something fun and out of the ordinary for people,” McCann said. He noted that drivers are unable to see the effect from their vehicle.
Roehl’s painting is just down the street at the mid-block crossing on Eighth Avenue South between Mainstreet and First Street South. The young artist was the only Hopkins High student to respond to the city’s call for student artists. She’s turning a doodle that she sketched while bored in math class into public art.
The young artist has worked with many mediums, but never anything on this large of a scale. The natural elements, such as wind blowing leaves onto fresh paint, small dirt-filled potholes and the heat of the asphalt are all learning curves, according to Roehl.
Because of the wear and tear of weather and traffic, the paintings could be nearly gone or require lots of retouching by fall.
“It will last as long as the elements will let it last,” McCann said.
The city will decide later whether or not to have new crosswalk art next year.
“The crosswalks this summer were set up to be a pilot demonstration project. We’re going to see how it goes and possibly have new crosswalk art next year,” said Jan Youngquist, the city’s community development coordinator.
But for now, the community is welcome to enjoy the paintings. In fact, many nearby residents and passersby already have expressed appreciation as the paintings come to fruition.
“During painting, people on bikes and driving by were saying, ‘Thanks for making Hopkins beautiful!’” Youngquist said.