Ample sunshine and warm temperatures during the second week of April pretty much begged for a bike ride, so it was easy to find an excuse to get outside and hunt for some murals as part of Recovery Bike Shop’s 30 Days of Biking Great NE Mural Hunt, taking place all throughout Northeast Minneapolis. I’ve been casually interested in street art and murals for a while so when I saw checkpoint 11, a mural of an owl, I knew right away that I’d seen it somewhere before and that it was by the street art collaborative Broken Crow. Is it cheating to mural “hunt” ahead of time by using Google Maps and Streetview? I did my best to resist the urge. Instead, I tried to picture the mural location in my mind. Somewhere south of Lowry Avenue and west of Central Avenue. Kind of hidden on a smaller street where you might miss it if you’re biking past too fast.
With a general sense of where I should start hunting, I hopped on my bike. I live in Northeast Minneapolis, near Johnson Street and Lowry Avenue. My first move was to ride down the newish sidepath on the Johnson Street hill and connect to the Great Northern Greenway (GNG). The Great Northern Greenway runs east to west across Northeast and North Minneapolis, connecting the Diagonal Trail to Theodore Wirth Parkway. With the exception of a few missing segments and a pesky rail bridge over the Mississippi River, the greenway is mostly all built out and ready to ride with a mix of trail and low volume residential streets. I rode west on the Great Northern Greenway trail that runs alongside 18th Avenue NE and crossed Central Avenue. Further west at Monroe Street, the trail ends, and riders need to turn either left or right. The official GNG route is to turn right to the north and then head west again along 19th Avenue. For some reason a left to the south always feels better to me, maybe it feels more like going downhill. So, I turned left and went south to connect to 17th Avenue NE.
At this point it felt like I had entered the heart of the Northeast Minneapolis Arts District. The district is home to Art-A-Whirl, the largest open studio tour in the country, happening annually throughout Northeast Minneapolis the third weekend of May. I also started to feel like I was getting closer to finding the mural. 17th Avenue passes the Casket Arts Building and an outdoor sculpture garden just to the north of the building. This got me thinking that there was a good chance some other art would be nearby. The neighborhood has a mix of single family residential, industrial uses, and old buildings like Casket Arts that have been converted to arts, lofts, or commercial uses. I meandered through the sculpture garden then rode north on Jefferson Street. At 19th Avenue, Jefferson jogs to the west so I turned left and then immediately saw the mural I had been hunting on the façade of the Northeast Hair & Co Building.
It’s an unassuming cinder block building tucked between a wall of ivy and trees. The mural encapsulates Broken Crow’s style which is focused on animal motifs, bold blocks of colors and thick stencil lines. After finding the mural and the taking the requisite photo, I went the long way home, taking the opportunity to bike down some streets that I had not been on before and see more of what makes Northeast so special.
Jordan Kocak lives in Northeast Minneapolis. He is a transportation planner and the Pedestrian and Bicycle Coordinator for Hennepin County.
Move Minneapolis’ “What’s The Move?” Guest Blog series features community voices and their transportation experiences.
#30DaysOfBiking is all about forming habits – healthy, hopefully life-changing habits. The goal is to ride a bike every day in April; any distance, any destination, any reason – just ride. In theory, if one puts a conscious effort pedaling even a little bit for 30 days in a row, then Day 31 and 32 will be so much easier to ride, and so on… Thus, a new, joyful habit is formed!
Created in Minneapolis in 2010, 30 Days of Biking is now celebrated worldwide by a community of joyful riders. Not only is bike riding healthy physically, but the sense of community building with fellow riders is rewarding for one’s soul. Take the pledge, share your stories, and have fun!
To coincide with 30 Days Of Biking, the Great Northeast Mural Hunt adds a layer of fun, adventure, and appreciation of art to daily cycling. The Great Northeast Mural Hunt is a bicycling scavenger hunt in search of the magnificent Murals of Northeast Minneapolis. Explore the neighborhood on two wheels and learn about the wall-sized artistic landmarks that are the hidden gems of the community. Check out Recovery Bike Shop on Instagram to see the latest mural, then tag @recoverybikeshop with a photo featuring the murals and your bike.
The Great Northeast Mural Hunt is hosted in partnership with the Northeast Minneapolis Chamber and the Mural Central Project and is funded in part by a City of Minneapolis Great Streets Business District Support grant.