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Telling a Story of Greater Mankato

Video by MegaMatt Productions

The Process

Since 2011, the CityArt Committee, a joint venture of Twin Rivers Council for the Arts and the City Center Parternship, has been strategizing ways to incorporate artwork onto the Ardent Mills grain silos; the largest structures in the City Center located at the gateway of Old Town and seen from several vantage points across the Minnesota River and along Hwy 169 and Hwy 14. Adding artwork to the 135-foot-tall silos will build on the momentum that Mankato is the “artsiest town in Southern Minnesota”; a creative community that passersby are compelled to stop and experience.

In 2018, the CityArt Committee commissioned international artist, Guido Van Helten to complete a mural on the Ardent Mills silos. Work began in 2019 and, once completed in 2020, the mural in Mankato will stand as the latest installment in the continuation of a connected narrative throughout the Midwest celebrating identity and regional stories. In recent years, the Van Helten has installed celebrated works in Faulkton, South Dakota and in Fort Dodge, Iowa.

Van Helten visited Mankato in September 2018 and returned in 2019 for another visit to get to know local residents and to understand the history and narrative of the area prior to creating a design for this major public artwork. The concept is a summary of experiences, observations, and discoveries in color and culture in Mankato utilizing the Education Day at the Mahkato Pow Wow 2018/19 as a backdrop for the photographs on which the design of the mural is based.

The Design: Telling the Story of Greater Mankato

This design brings together the shared ideals of community, diversity, and inclusion; and it pays respect to history while encouraging a positive dialogue on the future identity of the Mankato area. The mural will be dynamic, with a comprehensible community focus that will echo the surrounding landscape and architecture. It is the intent for each viewer to derive their own meaning from the work; and it will ideally be an invitation for a fresh, direct and friendly dialogue to occur in the surrounding region as a result.

Learn about the artist’s inspirations and vision for this unique mural. Read Release

Watch Guido Work

Watch the story come alive at one the Official Silo Art Viewing Areas. Download map for viewing areas and parking.


About the Artist: Guido Van Helten

Guido Van Helten is an internationally recognized artist creating contemporary street art throughout the world which is underpinned by his exploration of community and identity generated through photography and large-scale mural installations. Born in Canberra and growing up in inner city Melbourne, Australia, the artist was influenced at a young age by traditional graffiti movements, leading to an introduction to aerosol at a young age. After graduating with a Bachelor of Visual Arts in Printmaking at Southern Cross University, Guido began the development of his contemporary work, now closely aligned with the movement of large-scale muralism across the world.

His work has developed out of his keen interests in travel, photography, architecture and learning about cultures in connection with their landscapes. Receiving attention for his work in regional communities around Australia, Guido was nominated for the Sir John Sulman prize at the Art Gallery of NSW in 2016 for his work in the community of Brim, Victoria. These interests and his ability to work on large-scale projects have spurred commissions across the world throughout Europe, Scandinavia, the United States and Australia.

“Since 2013, my practice has evolved into an exploration of identity in connection with our urban environment or a sort of architectural sociology. Through this, I approach mural projects using photography and community engagement to uncover the human stories and site-specific nature and connections to place. My work explores this relationship through images and it is designed to align with the architectural sites.” Learn more about Guido

Silo Art Project, work in progress, Photo Credit Sarah Hughes

Thank You to the Donors Who Made It Happen

Thank you to all the donors who are making Silo Art possible. View the full list of businesses, individuals and organizations who have contributed to Silo Art. Donor List >>

GIVE –  Make a tax-deductible donation to the Silo Art Project today!

In the Press:

Australian artist using concrete as his canvas across the world – (7News Sydney, Feb. 15, 2020)

Master muralist will transform Mankato silos with realistic, giant images – (Star Tribune, Oct. 26, 2019)

Silo mural beginning with artist citing inspiration from Mahkato Pow Wow (Free Press)

Silos will be canvas for giant Old Town mural (Free Press)

Read up on the Top Eight Questions about the Silo Art Project.

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