South St. Paul comes together to make art

The shared lobby of the Doug Woog Arena and South St. Paul Public School’s Community Learning Center was turned into an art studio May 2 as the community was invited to help paint a new mural for the building. (Hannah Burlingame photos/Review)

Shane Anderson worked with students to create two murals that have the history of South St. Paul hidden throughout.

Camryn, left, and Emma, helped paint part of the mural.

The shared lobby of the Doug Woog Arena and South St. Paul Public School’s Community Learning Center on May 2 turned into an art center as residents were invited to help paint a mural that will be displayed at the arena. 

This project is a partnership between the learning Center and interactive community art muralist Shane Anderson.

More than 50 community members helped paint the first stage of one of the murals, which will be unveiled this summer with another, depicting South St. Paul places and history.

Anderson is a longtime professional artist who spends much of his time creating public art, especially with schools. He went to high school with Robin O’Reilly, an administrator at the learning center, and she asked him if he would want make something with its students.

O’Reilly said the building has changed quite a bit in the last few years, taking on more of a sense of being a community space.

“Our kids are always out in the community and the kids wanted the community to come in and see their space and work with them [to create something],” O’Reilly said.

After community members helped paint a handful of panels at the event, Anderson, another artist and perhaps some students were slated to give the panels finishing touches. Anderson and students will paint the second mural.

Amy Anderson, the artist’s sister-in-law, was in attendance with her kids. A current Inver Grove Heights resident and formerly of South St. Paul, she said she thinks all of the little hidden history details in the mural are a delight.

“It’s really neat,” she said 

There are five programs that run out of the learning center space and it was primarily the students who are there during the day who worked on the large art pieces.

Anderson said the murals are a fun project because there is a lot of South St. Paul history hidden throughout. He said he came in, introduced himself to the students and showed them a slideshow of work he has done.

“I challenged them and asked them for ideas of what will go in the mural,” Anderson said, adding his favorite part of working with kids in the community is getting them to think outside the box.

O’Reilly said she was a little nervous when the project started, because she didn’t know what the students were going to come up with — the kids had free reign to submit whatever they wanted to Anderson.

“I didn’t know what I was going to find, but they came with so much more... different things that stand out to them as being key things in the community,” she said.

One of those key things is the area’s Native American heritage, which the students took time to research. O’Reilly said she thinks most know about the stockyards that existed in South St. Paul, but not much about other aspects of the place’s history.

The murals should be complete and on display by June.

Said O’Reilly, “It was really cool for a lot of the families to see how many generations have been here and how old of a town this is, and how much history is here.”


–Hannah Burlingame can be reached at 651-748-7824 or

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