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Art Drives to a Minnesota Neighborhood Near You

Printmaker Ruthann Godollei has a rich history with artful transportation, all the way back to the childhood bike she painted. As an adult, she traded two wheels for four and created her own art car - and she's been driving the spiffed-up vehicle for the last 35 years.

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"It allows me to show artwork outside the gallery system. I have work in museums, I am a professional artist, but this form of art is so accessible and so available to everyone. So it's a chance for me to share with everybody I drive past," Godollei shares.

Godollei's passion for the practice is evident. She penned a book about the rich history of art cars around the world, and she's also a long-standing member of the very active art car community in the Twin Cities. The group parades vehicles year-round at various events, including on ice during frigid Minnesota winters.

It was that tradition of bringing the cars to the community that sparked Godollei and others to take action when the mandated stay-at-home orders took effect during the coronavirus pandemic.

"We thought, we can take our decorated vehicles and take them to where people are sheltering in place. It's a generous thing, I think, but it's also a chance to spread the word to stay safe, stay apart, stay at home if you can and do it in a responsible way," Godollei says.

Each Saturday, the group travels to a different Twin Cities neighborhood to spread cheer to residents. To avoid crowds, the group keeps their location a secret until just before they hit the road. About 30 minutes before the parade begins, they share information on a Facebook page. And safety is always top of mind: "When we advertise the event, we say stay safe. Stay in your homes and wave from the windows or stand in your yard. Encourage your kids to wave at us, but don't run up to the car."

While taking the art cars out on parade is always a joy, Godollei admits that she experiences a priceless satisfaction in seeing the delighted expressions on the faces of people who experience the pop-up surprise. "Sheer joy, some surprise, delight. People say thank you a ton. You know, it's brightening their day in a way we know that our cars do. The idea that I can use my art to contribute to the public good, that I can bring joy to people even for a few moments is really wonderful."

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This story is made possible by the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund and the citizens of Minnesota.

Craving new routes for your daily walks? Both Minneapolis and Saint Paul feature “outdoor galleries” of vibrant murals that might just fulfill your hunger for beauty in these stay-at-home times. Your murals walking tours in Minneapolis and in Saint Paul await, complete with maps for easy navigation.

A portrait photographer by trade, local lensman Dave Puente decided that a pandemic was the perfect opportunity to give people in our local communities a free “porchrait” – in other words, a family photo taken on their porch, their stoop, their yard. The result? A project that compels him to dream big about the impact of photography in these trying times.

Photographer Layne Kennedy is known for his editorial assignment work that sends him around the globe to capture the perfect shot for the likes of National Geographic TravelerOutside and LIFEBut while sheltering in place, he’s focused on a newer craft: making stunning wooden bowls from fallen trees in his Minneapolis neighborhood. 

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