Ryan Klabunde and Kate McDonald

Running along the stretch of University Avenue from Highway 280 to Prior Avenue in Saint Paul is a haven for artists and creative dreamers known as the Creative Enterprise Zone (CEZ). Historically a manufacturing center, the neighborhood’s industrial buildings are now home to some 300 creative people who live and work there.

Last year, the people behind the neighborhood non-profit organization that goes by the same moniker, decided that the area would be the perfect canvas for the state’s largest mural and public art festival – and the Chroma Zone Mural and Art Festival was born. CEZ teamed up with local businesses that donated their blank exterior walls, and local non-profit Forecast Public Art set the creative direction of the festival.

The result? Twelve murals were created by 15 artists from all over the world in just a matter of a few weeks. The festival was a huge success for local businesses and the artistic community, alike, helping solidify the neighborhood as a creative hub in Saint Paul. The second installment of the festival is slated to take place in September 2021.

In the meantime, take a social-distance-savvy tour of some of the murals by using this guided walking tour and map below.

(1) Cey Adams Mural at Hampden Park Co-op, 928 Raymond Avenue

Iconic New York-based artist Cey Adams has exhibited with the likes of Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. He also starred in the PBS documentary Style Wars.

(2) Mariela Ajras Mural at Wycliff, 2327 Wycliff Street – South Side

Mariela Ajras is a muralist from Buenos Aires, Argentina, whose work focuses on femininity and womanhood.

(3) Claudia Valentino & Daniela Biamchini Mural at Precision Coatings, 2313 Wycliff Street

Artist Claudia Valentino (Clau) was born in Argentina and came to Minneapolis in 2009. She has a background in contemporary dance and photography.

(4) Chuck U Mural at Spot Weld, 2290 Wycliff Street

Chuck U is an artist and illustrator whose work has graced everything from beer cans to album covers. He lives and works in Minneapolis.

(5) Priscila De Carvalho Mural at Budget Sign Shop, 2474 W. Territorial Road

Priscilia De Carvalho is a Brazilian-American contemporary artist living in New York, who is known for paintings, sculptures, murals, site-specific installations and permanent public art.

(6) Fadlabi Mural at Wycliff, 2327 Wycliff Street – North Side

Fadlabi lives and works in Oslo, Norway. He works with painting, text and performance.

(7) Mr. Kiji Mural at Dual Citizen Brewing Co., 725 Raymond Avenue

Mr. Kiji is a Japanese-born, New York City-based artist whose work encompasses animations, murals of scale, product and packaging design.

(8) Christina Vang, Teeko Yang & Oskar Ly Mural at Oak Tree Arts, 809 Carlton Street

Christina Vang, Teeko Yan and Oskar Ly are part of ArtCrop, a collective of Hmong artists whose work explores and reconnects to their cultural roots.

(9) Biafra, Inc. Mural at Bro-Tex, 800 North Hampden Avenue

Biafra is a muralist, screenprinter and fine artist. His work is influenced by skateboarding, comic books, graffiti and street art.

(10) Ewok Mural at Tech Dump, 860 Vandalia Street

Ewok got his start creating graffiti in Minneapolis in the 1990’s before moving to Orange County, Calif. He is now an internationally known graffiti artist.

(11) Martzia Thometz Mural at the Universe Buildings, 670 Vandalia Street

Minneapolis-based muralist Martzia Thometz’s goal is to make accessible art to empower young (and old) angry women to see the strength and beauty within themselves.

(12) Eric Garcia Mural at E-Z Recycling, 875 North Prior Avenue

Eric Garcia has created murals everywhere from New Mexico to Illinois. He is known for mixing history with contemporary politics.

Photo Credit: All Still Photography by Alex Olson

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

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“You might be surprised to know that a diverse mural tradition in Minnesota predates the current surge of multicultural, creative expression. In fact, the Twin Cities PBS proto-arts magazine series Wyld Ryce aired a funky-fresh video essay featuring notable murals in the area… 40 years ago.” Step back in time to discover more about Minnesota’s mural-making tradition.

While traipsing around malls during this coronavirus-triggered lockdown isn’t an option, take a look at artist Ashley Mary’s giant mural inside Rosedale Center, which she created as part of a mall-wide arts scavenger hunt in April 2019.