Under the Same Sun
Collaborative mural series at the Parkway Theatre
by Elissa Cedarleaf-Dahl’s Special Topics: Site Works class
Our class began by researching community murals and speaking with Joe Minjares, who prides himself as the Minnecano who created Pepitos and is restoring the Parkway Theatre. He wanted us to create four mural panels for the Parkway Theatre that reflect the events, atmosphere, and community that goes on at the Parkway, but he wanted us to decide upon the content. The vibrant Parkway Theatre hosts such varied events as poetry slams, parties, live music, and shows independent and international films. The theatre also has a rich history, as it has survived since the 1930’s and showcases a strong period Art Deco flair to its interior.
We had a series of discussions to arrive upon subject matter that we felt represented the spirit and happenings of the Parkway, and came upon four subjects: film, dance, a fiesta, and music (these eventually streamlined, evolved and changed; this is described below). From there, groups were determined to work on individual elements such as patterning, central figures, color palette, and environment to work through the collaborative design process. Edits were made and so was the decision to streamline and Deco-ize the illusionistic designs, to better fit with the environment of the Parkway.
The final panels depict scenes of a jazz singer and a pianist; a film crew, including a 1930’s camera (echoing the vintage projector showcased in the front lobby of the Parkway); two salsa dancers; and a group of musicians, including a mariachi fiddler and an accordionist. These panels depict the exuberant creative atmosphere of the Parkway, and the rich multiculturalism of the surrounding Minnehaha Creek neighborhood.
The photos document the Site Works class tackling the task of painting the gigantic pieces of canvas in front of us. Groups of us stretched the canvas, gessoed it, mixed colors, and transferred the images. Painting murals is challenging and rewarding work; challenging because it requires a great deal of interpersonal coordination and planning to deal with such a large task, and rewarding because of the collaborative energy and community-based approach.
You are welcome to come and see our work, either in-progress or when the murals are unveiled on the week of Cinco de Mayo! The documentation will not give you the full story; we want you to see the murals for yourself. The New Parkway Theatre (more info: http://theparkwaytheatre.com/) is located at 48th and Chicago. It is one of the last remaining single-screen, independently-owned theatres in the Twin Cities, prices remain low, and amazing films are constantly being shown, including a current series of screwball comedies from the Great Depression. We hope that the work we do here as students will remain a long-lasting contribution to the vital neighborhood arts center that is the Parkway Theatre.
Participants in Site Works project are: