Photo: William Hurst
Adam Swanson - July 2018
Snowy Owl is one of two murals in Lincoln Park by Adam Swanson and is arguably one of the most surprising. Located on 20th Avenue West near the U.S. Highway 53 entrance to the neighborhood, Snowy Owl is a delightful discovery on a street that at first glance from the highway entrance appears more industrial than commercial.
This mural was created in 2018 as part of the Duluth Art Institute’s (DAI) Artist in Residence program, funded with Morgan Fund grant dollars administered by the Duluth Superior Community Foundation and secured by the Lincoln Park Business Group (LPBG). After winning the DAI Request for Proposal (RFP), studio space was provided by the DAI at their Lincoln Park Building. During the mural painting, Swanson held regular hours in the Lincoln Park building and hosted school groups and community members who wanted to learn about this process of mural -making. From creation to installation, this project took three months.
Swanson worked on design options and submitted the concepts to the LPBG. The inspiration for this piece came from Swanson seeing his first snowy owl in Lincoln Park earlier in the year and the record number of snowy owl sightings during 2017/18. Swanson says, “This mural is about Duluth and its current relationship with the snowy owl, a magnificent creature who has thrived in this area for millions of years and whose populations are declining precipitously due to human actions. I made this mural during the summer after a record number of snowy owl sightings in Duluth, which I took as a hopeful sign.” The robots and cyclists and Lake Superior you see in the background are prominently featured in many works by Swanson and for those familiar with his work, are some of what makes it quintessentially his. It is painted on Polytab, a non-woven acrylic fiber and applied to the building in the same manner as Lincoln Park Craft District and Water Science Manoomin, a process Swanson learned from Lincoln Park Craft District artist Paul LaJeunesse.
In true Lincoln Park fashion, folks stepped up to bring this project to completion. JS Print Group repaired and painted the wall prior to installation, Frost River loaned Swanson scaffolding, and LPBG volunteer Garner Moffat assisted with installation and the tenants of the now demolished Esmond Building (aka Seaway Hotel) across the avenue cheered during the installation process as the previously blank grey wall got a facelift.
Snowy Owl is now the showpiece of 20th Avenue West and a spectacular welcome to the northern entrance to Lincoln Park.
Photos: Shannon Laing, William Hurst
1927 W Superior Street (20th Avenue-facing wall)