Community asked to help create new Lake Phalen mural

file photo A mural will be installed at Lake Phalen this summer and the process is being lead by artist Liv Novotny, who helped with the Urban Roots Youth Council’s mural at Phoenix Market in Dayton’s Bluff last year.

A mural will be installed at Lake Phalen this summer and organizers are asking the community to help brainstorm ideas for it. 

The mural is being commissioned by the Friends of the Mississippi River and the Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District. A community meeting to help brainstorm ideas for the mural will be held on Thursday, Feb. 21, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., at First Covenant Church, 1280 Arcade St.

The mural will focus on the connection between Lake Phalen and the Mississippi River, highlighting the human impacts on water. 

Kate Clayton, youth coordinator for the Friends of the Mississippi River, said the overall hope is that the mural will remind neighbors and visitors to Lake Phalen to help keep the water clean and how their choices impact water not just locally, but across the world. Water from Lake Phalen flows into the Mississippi River via Phalen Creek; the Mississippi flows to Gulf of Mexico, and so on.

This will be the third mural the Friends have commissioned. Two other murals, which were painted around storm drains, were done at Como Lake. 

While an exact location for the Lake Phalen mural has yet to be determined, it will most likely also be around a storm drain near the lake.

Clayton said some of the most important things to keep out of storm drains are road salt and cigarette butts. She said she hopes the mural will help remind neighbors to clean up as they go for walks around the lake.

Chris O’Brien, spokesperson for the Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District, said not only is the organization looking to highlight Lake Phalen, but also the connections between water quality and shoreline health. 

He said the watershed district just finished a shoreline rehabilitation project last year along Keller Creek, which feeds into Lake Phalen. The project included planting more than 100 species of native plants along the shores, which helps prevent erosion. 

“There’s an ecological message, as well as bringing attention to recreation,” O’Brien said. 

The artist leading the creative process, Liv Novotny, has helped with other East Side murals, such as the one painted through the Urban Roots Youth Council at Phoenix Market. Organizers said they’ll be using ideas from the Feb. 21 community meeting to shape the design of the mural. 

“My favorite aspect about creating community murals is to learn from the people I meet,” Novotny said. “I love to learn about their lives and their traditions and history with the area.”

Using the ideas brainstormed from the community, Novotny will be painting the mural ahead of the annual Lake Phalen Water Festival, which will be celebrating its 20th anniversary on June 1.

Organizers said they’ll also be looking for neighbors to help out with painting ahead of the festival.

“I want to encourage people to use their artistic energy that maybe they usually don’t get to in their everyday lives,” said Novotny.


–Marjorie Otto can be reached at 651-748-7816 or at  

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