Twelve artists will leave their mark on walls in Minnesota’s Creative Enterprise Zone (CEZ)—a non-profit and neighborhood located between downtown Saint Paul and Minneapolis—during the Chroma Zone mural and art festival in September 2019. Though the Twin Cities already has incredible murals and muralists, Chroma Zone will be its first mural festival, and is planned as a celebration of the artistry, commerce, and community found in the district. Forecast managed the festival artist selection, and we are excited to join the Creative Enterprise Zone in announcing the selected artists!

Forecast’s Role + the Artist Selection Process

As a facilitator, Forecast helps set up processes to select artists. In line with our values, we facilitated a fair and inclusive open application process for the festival. We put out a call this spring 2019—locally, nationally, and internationally—and received 99 applications from artists world-wide. As part of the artist selection process, Forecast put together a panel of seven people representing the arts community, the neighborhood, and those experienced in muralism. The panel ranked the artists and applicants on a variety of criteria that included many factors, but sought to select a diverse pool of artists that represent varying experiences, backgrounds, locations, genders, perspectives and styles of art. The panel chose the final muralists for the twelve CHROMA ZONE walls, and also recommended many other artists for other opportunities throughout the festival; more information about those artists will be announced in coming weeks.

Selected Artists

The final selection includes twelve artists/teams: six are local to the Twin Cities, four are national, two are international; the majority of the artists are women or non-binary artists, and the majority are artists of color.

Chuck U is an artist and illustrator living and working in the Twin Cities. He mostly prefers working in pen and ink and doing smaller scale print work, but has recently been branching out into larger paintings and murals. You can see his work on Indeed Brewing cans, the sides of buildings, album covers, the walls of print collectors all over the world and once even a lottery ticket.

Claudia Valentino (Clau) came from Argentina to Minneapolis in 2009 and started working with Greta McLain in 2011. In Argentina she spent three years studying a contemporary dance technique that expresses emotions through body movements at the National University Institute of Art (IUNA) in Buenos Aires, and documentary photography at the Association of Argentine Graphic Reporters (AGRA). She learned the craft of painting and mosaics with Greta and started working as a project leader in 2014 with GoodSpace Murals. There she learned many techniques, focused on over- and under painting. She also found the beautiful challenge of working with the community and that’s the one thing she likes most about her profession.

Known for mixing history with contemporary politics, Eric J. Garcia always tries to create art that is much more than just aesthetics. Garcia has been creating murals for over a decade, from Albuquerque to Chicago. His murals have been commissioned by such institutions as The National Museum of Mexican Art, the Urban Institute Contemporary Art, and DePaul Art Museum. Garcia received his BFA with a minor in Chicano studies from the University of New Mexico, and went on to complete his MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. A versatile artist working not only with murals but in an assortment of media, from hand-printed posters, to sculptural installations, to his controversial political cartoon series El Machete Illustrated, they all have a common goal of educating and challenging.

Martzia began painting the streets in 2008. With a foundation in graffiti she learned to paint fast and efficiently, often traveling around to new and foreign environments. Self-taught, she is continuously pushing herself to learn and grow as an artist. Over the years she’s developed a distinct recognizable style, built around imagery of strong women often ready for the everyday battle of being feminine in a male dominated society. Her goal is to make accessible art to empower young (and old) angry women to see the strength and beauty within themselves. She was just one of the featured artists in this year’s Soundset festival just a few weeks ago.

Biafra hadn’t planned on being an artist. He thought he was going to be a teacher. He started cutting stencils as a way to decorate his skateboard in 2003. Cutting stencils quickly turned into an obsession, suddenly the stencils were on stickers and walls and that transitioned into an interest in graffiti and screen printing. He switched his major from education to art and received a B.F.A. with an emphasis in printmaking from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. He has been lucky enough to take what he has learned and obsessed about for all these years and turn that into a job. His work is text heavy and hard lines. He uses comic book characters because he thinks they are instantly relatable to every generation and represent an idealistic time. The text surrounding the characters gives clues as to what the character represents. He uses his murals as an extension of his fine art. He can do a print and a mural of the same character and each application allows him to explore the character and themes in a different way. The scale of a mural can deliver a feeling that the intimacy of a print can’t and he loves exploring that experience.

ArtCrop is a collective of Hmong artists whose work explores and reconnects to their cultural roots. Located in the Creative Enterprise Zone, ArtCrop is pleased to join the roster of artists featured in Chroma Zone. ArtCrop has created murals from downtown Saint Paul to rural farm landscapes leaving evidence to spark the next generation’s own love stories of culture and identity. Their work pushes Hmong aesthetics and cultural innovation influenced by their people across a global diaspora. The ArtCrop artists include Christina Vang, Oskar Ly and Teeko Yang. Christina Vang is a multi-faceted designer and artist whose work focuses on community narratives. Through her work she captures the vibrancy, curiosity, and energy of cultural communities. Oskar Ly is a queer Hmong French American artist. Her work focuses on creating new possibilities that reclaim identity through fashion art along with organizing community productions that uplift cultural preservation/re-appropriation. Teeko Yang is a project manager by day and a creative by night. She is a purpose-driven photographer interested in capturing the truth of her subjects.

Priscila De Carvalho is a Brazilian-American contemporary artist who is known for paintings, sculptures, murals, site-specific installations, and permanent public art. She is a recipient of The Pollock-Krasner Foundation Fellowship Award and served as an artist in residence at Sculpture Space, Aljira Emerge 10 Fellowship, Lower East Side Printshop, The Bronx Museum of the Arts and Jamaica Center for the Arts and Learning Workspace Program. She made her first solo debut with Passageways in the Jersey City Museum, opening March 19, 2009. Priscila’s work has been exhibited by the Brooklyn Bridge Park (New York, USA), The Bronx Museum of the Arts (New York, USA), Socrates Sculpture Park (New York, USA), the Basque Museum-Center of Contemporary Art (Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain), Deutsche Bank (New York, USA), the Grand Palais (Paris, France), the Nepal Art Council in (Kathmandu, Nepal), The Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (New York, USA), The Jersey City Museum (Jersey City, USA). She was also a celebrated participant in El Museo’ Sixth Biennial in New York City, The First AIM Biennial at The Bronx Museum of the Arts, and The Kathmandu International Triennial in Nepal where she represented her home nation of Brazil. She has been commissioned for large-scale permanent public art projects by the MTA Arts & Design and the Department of Education in NY in collaboration with School Construction Authority, she is currently creating permanent public artwork for the SBS Woodhaven median stations commissioned by New York City’s Department of Cultural Affairs’ Percent for Arts Program as well as her largest and most ambitious sculptural work to date for the Valley Metro Rail System in Phoenix, Arizona. Priscila lives and works in Long Island City, NY.

Mr. Kiji is a Japanese-born, New York City-based artist whose work encompasses animations, murals of scale, product and packaging design. He is recognized for playful and bold graphic and pattern work with a strong emphasis on color. He was also a 2017 artist in residence at Detroit’s Red Bull House of Art.

Ewok is an Orange County based artist who began writing graffiti in Minneapolis in the early ‘90s. Since then, he has solidified his status as an internationally known #Graffiti artist, traveling extensively and painting in several countries, including exhibiting artwork and mural projects with the Seventh Letter artist collective, in Los Angeles, Tokyo, Taiwan, Barcelona, and Seoul. More recently Ewok was one of several artists who completed Guinness Book of World Records’ longest continuous graffiti scroll in Dubai that was part of their UAE day celebration. His fine art has been exhibited at LA’s Known gallery, and his solo exhibitions ‘Revisionist History’ and ‘Pageantry’ have been featured on Hypebeast and in Juxtapoz magazine.

Cey Adams, a New York City native, emerged from the downtown graffiti movement to exhibit alongside fellow artists Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring. Today his art practice consists of working with mixed media materials to create large collage paintings, works on paper and bright colorful murals. Recent collaboration partners include the Smithsonian, Temple University, IDEO, Apple, Levi’s, Converse, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Foot Locker, YouTube, and Google.

Fadlabi lives and works in Oslo. He was educated at the Art Academy in Oslo (KHiO), Al-Neelain University in Khartoum, and Sudan University. He works with painting, text, and performance. In 2008 he founded “One Night Only” an artist-run platform in Oslo that shows a new artist every Monday. Possibly, Norway’s most busy gallery. Between 2010- 2014 he worked with artist Lars Cuzner on European Attraction Limited, a contemporary rendition of a human zoo named The Congo Village and was part of the 1914 World Fair in Oslo. They re-enacted the village and opened it to the public in May 2014. His recent shows includes Sharjah Biennial 11 (Sharjah), Bergen Assembly (Bergen)The Museum of Contemporary Art (Oslo), Kunsthall (Oslo), UKS (Oslo), Munchmuseet i bevegelse (Oslo), NY Art-book fair (NY),Performa 15 NY (NY), Temporary Gallery (Cologne), Nile Sunset Annex (Cairo), Al Riwaq (Manamah), the Saudi Arts Council (Jeddah), Darat Al Funun (Amman) and Townhouse (Cairo).

Mariela Ajras is an internationally-acclaimed muralist from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Her work mainly focuses on the images of women and questions of femininity and collective memory. A psychologist as well as an artist, this background greatly influences her work in terms of subject matter and also in the teaching of community-oriented workshop that uses muralism as a social tool. She is a founding member of AMMURA (Association of Female Muralists of Argentina), a platform that showcases female muralists work and calls out gender inequality in the public art scene in Argentina. Her work can be found in different cities such as Los Angeles and Oakland in California, Lynn and Salem in Massachusetts, Barcelona, Valencia, Tarragona, and Salamanca in Spain, Mexico City, Guadalajara, Morelia, and Ciudad Juarez in Mexico, Napoli in Italy, Buenos Aires in Argentina, and Louvain in Belgium, among others.

Artist Announcement Event: Festival Goals + the importance of Community Storytelling

On Tuesday, June 18, 2019 at the public artist announcement held at Urban Growler Brewing Company—a neighborhood business—CEZ board chair Catherine Reid Day spoke to the goals of the festival and the organization: “We have an incredibly special community. For years and years, makers and creators have chosen to operate here. We want people to make it here, [and] to show ourselves as a creative community. At the heart of everything we’re doing is community; this is a creative destination. Asking ‘how will makers continue to make it here?’ is an important part of what we’re doing. We’re also here to promote the ability to make a living by your creativity.”

Mitra Jalali Nelson, Saint Paul city council member for ward 4, joined Reid Day in describing the importance of the festival for the wider city community: “We have to do the work to intentionally tell our story. The arts are important to tell that story. Doing the deeper structural work to address displacement: how do we get at issues of affordability in our city? Anti-displacement work is about power. It’s about having a voice and a day. It’s about power of a meaning of a place. Chroma Zone is about telling that story. Saint Paul is home to all of us and we’re going to tell that story with this festival. It helps us communicate the fullness and vibrancy of our neighborhood. We need to build that vibrancy through intentional street level events.”

Dr. Bruce Corrie, director of the city of Saint Paul Department of Planning and Economic Development added, “How do we go deeper and wider in everything we do in the city? How do we build the city? As you move from here, the CEZ, down to the capital, you see this explosion of creativity and assets.”

Forecast is thrilled to be part of this festival; we believe in the transformational power of art in our public lives, and are excited to see this festival happening in our community.