Nature in the City
Parks from prairies, one of Minneapolis’ stories.
As an artist, I have always looked for the story of the place I am expressing in my work. I don’t always make the story explicit, but I always look for it, because the story informs the choices I make.
With this new work, I am showing views of nature embedded into our city. I am telling the human story by adding built structures seen with shorelines and with trees. It doesn’t feel like a departure from my layered depictions of the natural world, but an expansion to include more of the story. One of the stories I’m interested in right now is how Minneapolis got our unique park system.
A city is a series of choices by groups and individuals, shaped by nature and ingenuity. When looking at the relatively short history of Minneapolis, I found that how we got our parks system has become one of the core stories we tell about who we are as a city.
Reading about and looking at old photos, you see the changes wrought by the first wave of development are followed pretty swiftly by a commitment to a large public park system.
Yet you can miss the work, the resistance, and the commitment to the ideal of a core of men and women. They were galvanized by Horace Cleveland’s vision of a grand round of parklands tying the natural beauty of the lakes, the Mississippi gorge, the creek and the Minnehaha Falls together.
Creating that much public land in the age of the “robber barons” took years of work and makes me think of the Margaret Mead quote: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
This seems like a good moment to both celebrate the achievement and listen to the deeper story of the hard political work it took.