Art in Anoka
Main Street Tunnel Mural
The City of Anoka, with the support from Rum River Art Center, applied for a Flexible Support grant through Metro Regional Arts Council (MRAC) to repaint the Main Street Tunnel in 2022. (The Main Street Tunnel connects the Rum River Trail under Main Street in Anoka along the Rum River, just south of Anoka City Hall. ) The Flexible Support grant provides funding to help organizations/groups create and sustain Minnesotans' access to the arts.
Young Artists of Anoka- Windows of Time
The Main Street tunnel had been painted prior in 2015 by the Young Artists of Anoka group, led by Jen Shoemaker. The tunnel project then was called "The Windows of Time". Each "window" featured a young artist's painting featuring an image from Anoka's historical and current features. In 2022, when the grant application was submitted, the "windows" had started to deteriorate and chip away. Some even had been painted over due to graffiti.
To read the Article from the StarTribune on the the Young Artists of Anoka painting the tunnel, visit here.
2023 Main Street Tunnel Mural Project Timeline
- June 2022
MRAC Grant Awarded
- July 2022
Staff met with Rum River Art Center and artist Geno Okok
- August 2022-
Artist Geno Okok presents mural idea to Park Board
Call for Artists and Community Input Meeting
- September 2022
Geno Okok's mural work is moved to Anoka Aquatic Center exterior
- November 2022
Nine Artists meet to design and draft the tunnel mural
- January - March 2023
Artists continue to design and discuss artwork and theme for the tunnel mural
- April 2023
Artists gathered at the Main Street Tunnel to divide the tunnel for their cohesive artwork
Theme is decided “Immersive Journey through Anoka’s Nature”"
- May 2023
A fresh coat is painted on the tunnel to create a "clean slate" for the new mural
Artists start their sections of the mural in the tunnel
- June - September 2023
Artists continue their artwork throughout the summer
Community Painting Days start Wednesday June 21 and end August 30
One new artist joins to make an even ten artists collaborating in the tunnel
Artist Geno Okok completes Mural of Anoka Aquatic Center Bathhouse
- October 2023
Artists finalize and complete their section of the murals
- October 21 Ribbon Cutting for the Main Street Tunnel
Thank you to our Sponsors:
- Avant Garden Bookstore
- Black Sheep Tattoo
- Field Law
- Reshetar Systems
- Rumriver Art Center
- The Mill Site – Events on the River
- Weaver Brothers, Inc.
Meet the Artists
Kirstie graduated from St. Cloud State University with a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Two Dimensional Media and a Bachelors of Science in Art Education. She has been teaching for 7 years and specializes in engaging the community through art. She recently collaborated with elementary students to complete a 17 foot long mural at Lakes International Language Academy, a charter school in Forest Lake.
Kirstie lives in Ham Lake with her husband and two daughters, ages 4 and 2. You may see them dancing away at Music in the Park, enjoying the beauty of the Rum River Dam or picking rocks from the Kindness Garden, as Anoka is one of their favorite places to go as a family.
Bonnie Eenigenburg is a local Coon Rapids-based artist who loves spending time in nature. She has turned a piano into a work of art for the Pianos on Parade public art and music installation in Minneapolis, created murals for the Anoka Kindness Rock Garden, and has recently contributed interactive art pieces to the Andover Sunflower Field. She is always inventing new ways to make the world a more colorful place.
For the main street tunnel project, she envisioned an immersive walk in nature as her inspiration, with tree canopy overhead. She also involved local fishing enthusiasts by asking for reference photos of their prized catches, to add locally caught fish to the painting. You'll spot artist conk mushrooms, a green heron, columbine flowers, and other native Minnesota wildlife in her mural contributions, a tribute to all of the beauty that surrounds us.
When my friend Bonnie told me that this project was happening, and said they were on the look for more artists, I was beyond excited!! My family just moved to Anoka in 2021 and we have wanted to get involved within the Arts community here. The mural project has opened so many doors for us, its allowed us to meet and work alongside other wonderful people and artists in our community and we are so grateful for the opportunity.
I am a tattoo artist and I specialize in lady faces. With Anoka being the Halloween Capitol of the World, I knew I had to make my with a beautiful spooky witch.
This has been an amazing experience. It is so wonderful knowing that my daughters will be able to see their parent's art shine throughout their hometown.
Sarah Heil (She/Her)
Sarah Heil is an artist working out of Anoka, Minnesota. Sarah has a bachelor's degree in studio art with a focus in ceramics. Sarah spends most of her art time in the ceramic studio working on expressive sculptures and guiding others through their own clay journey. Sarah enjoys painting but never really thought of herself as ‘a painter’ because of her love of ceramics. Using paint mediums to create texture,
Sarah is able to translate some of her multidimensional visions onto two dimensional surfaces. Sarah is a conceptual thinker who enjoys the diversity in shape, size, color, and movement of people and trees. Sarah enjoys picking up a piece of clay, squishing it to form, and whittling away her story on the surface of her ceramic pieces and building up the surface of the bark on her paintings to feel like they were carved. Sarah’s colorful body of artwork often conveys the many attributes that women and trees share. She is inspired to create by women, our one Earth, and how we are all connected.
Instagram: @antonsartworks Website: https://www.antonsartworks.com/
I'm Mak, Creative Director at Rumriver Art Center. I helped coordinate the gathering of artists and was a floater painter aiding artists when they needed it. My biggest role was making sure the community had a chance to get out and leave their mark! Man... painting on city walls is exciting, but getting to know the "Tube Team" and conversations with the community as they passed and painted filled my soul. What a grand way to gather community and creative minds! I want to paint on walls in Anoka forever...
Sam Licari is a native Anokan and Anoka graduate of 2015. He is a professional musician and owner/operator of an Audio Production/Recording Studio called Sweet Tease Studios located in Ramsey. You may catch him playing in many acts across the Twin Cities as a bass player or run into him locally singing and playing guitar. Growing up in Anoka provided Sam with a fertile ground in which he grew to love art, music and community. Sam did not find his passion for painting until 2014 when we took a class from his favorite art teacher Diane Gronewold, who was also his first grade art teacher (how awesome is that?). Sam, having a small amount of Native American ancestry, decided to paint a portrait to honor Anoka's Native American history with a figure canoeing the Rum River.
Stephen Savior is a local artist based in the north metro. He enjoys creating in many mediums, some of his past pieces includes pottery, sculptures, carving, drawings and paintings.
He drew his inspiration for the Anoka mural project from his family’s Native heritage and Native American legends. Below are the stories that motivated the paintings.
Both sides of the tunnel are showing the river as a tribute to Anoka. The name Anoka was derived from two Indian words: the Dakota word "a-no-ka-tan-han" meaning on both sides of the river, and the Ojibwa word "on-o-kay", meaning working waters.
Uncegila – the great water monster. Long ago, an evil witch was transformed into a giant snakelike creature. The sight of this beast would kill the viewer after 4 days.Uncegila’s Seventh Spot – This is the story of how twin brothers defeated the evil Uncegila. The monster can only be defeated by piercing her heart, which is located behind the seventh spot on her back. Because one of the brothers had been blinded by an accident when he was younger, they came up with a plan to have him shoot the arrows, while the other twin guided him. To ensure that the arrows hit the mark, they visited a woman that gave them 3 arrows that would never miss. Armed with these arrows, the brothers set off to slay the monster and free their people from its evil.
The Thunderer – a giant bird spirit, whose wings make the sound of thunder. Enemy of the evil water monster, Uncegila.
The Story of the White Buffalo Calf Woman – This story tells how a woman delivers the peace pipe and teaches the people how to use it in ceremony to heal their mind, body & spirit and connect with the earth. As she was leaving, the woman laid down and rose four times, each time changing into a different colored buffalo. Read the full story here