Art teachers help transform exteriors of boarded-up Uptown businesses

Artists paint boarded up businesses in Uptown Minneapolis in tribute to George Floyd.

All along Lake Street and Hennepin Avenue in Uptown, artists are using the plywood on boarded up buildings as their canvases.

The Uptown Association put out the call for artists to help the community and the response was strong. Monday, a group of teachers brought their paint to an Uptown institution: The Magers and Quinn Bookstore.

“I just couldn’t help feeling for the kids who live down here and having to see all the boarded up and broken windows and I wanted them to see something good,” said Amy Cunningham.

Cunningham, and many of the other people there Monday, are art teachers. Most of them are from Elk River, Otsego, Rogers and Zimmerman.

They all watched the destruction and vandalism during the protests.

An artist paints plywood on a business in Uptown Minneapolis.

“And this is a way to have a voice in art,” said Nicole Hahn, a District 728 art teacher. “But to also be down here is helping me to understand, to listen to the need and the wants of the public downtown.”

They painted a design of zentangles, which is a calming form of art. In this case, the painting was meant to compliment the portrait of George Floyd that Magers and Quinn hung next to the front door.

“And so we put some really beautiful colors on the walls and make it a little more inviting,” said Cunningham.

For the store, the timing could not be more perfect as they’ve been closed to the public since March 17.

“We’re really excited to welcome the community back in,” said Jessi Blackstock, of Magers and Quinn. “Books are so important.”

Murals are taking over the plywood covering businesses in Uptown and the community is joining in.