There is a lot of public art coming to Saint James throughout 2018 thanks to Partnership Art. What is Partnership Art? In September 2015, the Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership (SWMHP) received a three year award from ArtPlace America’s Community Development Investments program to assist in incorporating arts and cultural strategies into their ongoing work with communities in the region. The focus of the Partnership Art projects made possible by this award, in Saint James, Worthington, and Milan MN, are to engage arts and cultural strategies in comprehensive community planning and development to help strengthen the social, physical and economic fabric of communities.

Sara Kathryn Udvig is the Partnership Art Artist who will work most directly with Saint James community members. Udvig was chosen in December of 2015 by a panel of esteemed community-art enthusiasts, she will carryout 3 projects in Saint James. Throughout Udvig's work, community members are invited to get involved in the design and art-making process, stay tuned to the Plaindealer for updates and opportunities to get involved!

More about the projects: The Garden of Good People Mural Project is the first project Udvig will bring to life. Pictured here is the beginning of a design Udvig is working on. The mural will be on the Princess Theatre Community Building, and Udvig says: it's inspired by “Saint James community members, their amazing energy and (their) countless acts of goodwill” Udvig worked to get ideas and personal stories from community members at 2 pop-up art-making events she carried out at the Round-About-Rodeo and the Multicultural Fiesta. It's not too late to contribute! Community members are invited to offer feedback on the start of the mural design and join Udvig in Community Painting Days. While the dates haven’t been confirmed they will most likely be taking place in October. The design is still in process, and everything will look more painterly in the end. Here is what Udvig is thinking about: The flags represent cultural identity, the foods represents local favorites and the great work of local farmers, flowers were drawn by area children. Parents: Udvig asks you to send her more! Have your child draw a simple line drawing of a flower or a butterfly to be included in the mural, snap a photo and send to or text 651-335-4926 by Oct 23. As we go to print, Udvig is still working on design and looks forward to receiving your feedback via email or text!

Plaza de Saint James is a public art and green space that, depending on the eventual site, incorporates multiple public art opportunities: concrete/bronze and landscape art, a collaborative community mural, a blazing maple shade tree, seating, community designed fence and a performance area. The Plaza represents a cross-sector collaboration; all steps will be carried out in partnership with the community and city officials. Udvig developed the Plaza concept and will carry-out the project alongside a team of experts: Julio Zelaya- American Civil Liberties Union Greater Minnesota Racial Justice Coordinator, Karla Beck- High School Principal, Brenda Byron– Executive Director, Prairie Lakes Regional Arts Council, Mayuli Bales- Diocese of St Cloud, Director of the Multicultural Ministries. The team is currently working with city and local partners to find a space for the Plaza. Udvig has word from the city that Tony Downs is willing to donate a private lot for public use as a Plaza space, while nothing is confirmed, Udvig says this level of generosity is an example of what makes working in Saint James so wonderful, “the people are so good.” There is much more to come with this exciting project, watch for Community Design Workshop dates coming soon!! And, building & business owners, watch your mailbox for a special survey about the Plaza!

The Plaza is made possible by Partnership Art through Artplace America and (you!) the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Prairie Lakes Regional Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

Other noteworthy considerations: Udvig will work with city officials to develop maintenance plans for all projects, additionally she is using the best materials and approaches, designing for durability and low-cost futures. For example: the Garden of Good People Mural will be painted on a treated surface and adhered to the brick. This method will last longer, be safer for community participation, and less costly to maintain.

To get involved in any way with the project or to make any suggestions contact Sara Udvig at

pick up your copy of this article in the 10-12 print edition of the Plaindealer.