Midway, St. Paul, MN
‘Berbere’, pronounced as ‘bear-beret’, is an Ethiopian spice blend. ‘Berbere’ is a tile mosaic mural in the Hamline Midway neighborhood in Saint Paul, MN. Created for the Midway Murals project in 2015 focused on ‘starting anew’, this piece was made for the Star Food Market, where it is currently residing. Unfortunately, like many small businesses, the African food market was not able to survive during the pandemic and had to close its doors. The building has since sold and is slated for demolition this fall. The new building owners plan to tear the building down to make room for affordable housing, a huge asset to this vibrant neighborhood. While we are thrilled for this housing project to move forward and serve our community, we do not want to lose this piece of artwork.
This mural was created by artist Lori Greene, a vital part of the Hamline-Midway neighborhood, where she is both a resident and business owner. She and her team created this mosaic, cutting each piece by hand with intention, to represent and uplift the neighborhood. Due to limited funding, Lori was forced to donate much of the materials and time in order to build this mural for the community during the initial construction in 2015. Now we are asking the same community to help us preserve this piece of work. Your donation will help us raise the funds needed to hire a team of specialists to relocate this mosaic to another local building. We hope to rescue this work of art, keep it in the neighborhood it has lived in, and continue to serve as a reflection of the culture and beauty for the residents and visitors of Hamline Midway.
The Hamline-Midway neighborhood, lovingly referred to as ‘Little Africa’ because of the rich community that has developed here, is depicted vibrantly in Lori Greene’s piece ‘Berbere’. It contains imagery that reflects and resonates with the business owners, as well as neighborhood residents.
The Midway Murals project transformed a half-mile stretch of Snelling Avenue during the summer of 2015 by commissioning four experienced public artists to collaborate with immigrant business owners and the Hamline Midway neighborhood to create murals that weave together the theme of “starting anew.” Each artist created a separate mural, working over many months with business owners to craft an idea that came to fruition in July and August with the installation of a piece where the businesses reside. Lori Greene worked in mosaic; Greta McLain in paint and mosaic; Eric Mattheis in spray paint; Yuya Negishi in traditional and spray paint. The murals reflect the changes in culture, residents, infrastructure and imagination that are forever occurring in the city, as well as the promise and struggles that the community navigates over time. An outdoor museum, with a permanent and evolving exhibit, was born.
These projects focus on one of the most visible and highly traveled roads in Minnesota – the main thoroughfare from I-94, over the Green Line, on towards the State Fair – which suffers from rampant graffiti and an image to many as a street to drive through, yet not be seen. By flipping that perception on its head, this project attracts pedestrians and drivers alike and encourages them to stop, take notice, and frequent the businesses along the street. A celebration and unveiling of the murals brought hundreds of community members together to hear from the artists, take a walking tour of the art, and learn about the process of creating the murals and the stories behind them.