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Lite-Brite public art to start off the Forever Saint Paul Challenge

A large mural composed of 600,000 multicolored Lite-Brite pegs will light up St. Paul’s Union Depot on Saturday.  

The 12-foot-by-24-foot mural, designed by local artist Ta-coumba T. Aiken, will set the Guinness World Record for the “Largest Picture Made of Lite-Brite,” according to Laura Mylan, project manager for the Forever Saint Paul Challenge. It’s the number of pegs that go into a mural, not its physical dimensions, which determine the size, she explains.

The record Lite-Brite mural at this time has 513,000 pegs, so the St. Paul mural will “easily defeat the record and set a new one,” she says.

The project jumpstarts the Forever Saint Paul Challenge, a contest sponsored by The Saint Paul Foundation and Minnesota Idea Open, to draw out original ideas for improving St. Paul.   

On Saturday, the festivities begin at 3 p.m. with live music, oversized board games, food and more, while the lighting ceremony will happen at 7 p.m.

“We’re doing this to inspire big, bold creative ideas for the future,” Mylan says, adding, “We want ideas from everyone, from all walks of life, from across the state. What better way to do that than to create a big, bright public art installation that is truly of the community?”

In keeping with that, the abstract mural has the words “Forever Saint Paul” embedded in it.

Already, hundreds of volunteers have turned out to lend a hand on the mural. “It inspires people. It makes them smile,” she says, adding that most volunteers have found out about the project through social media and word of mouth.

The idea is to engage people in a creative process from the get-go, she says.

Since Jan. 12, people have helped hand-sort the pegs by color and started filling in the giant frame. “We’ve been so thrilled by the volunteer involvement. It’s been amazing.”

It made sense to hire the internationally known Aiken to design the mural because “He happens to work with points of color,” she says. He’s also accustomed to doing large-scale public artworks to which “He brings a great, welcoming presence,” she says.

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, Carleen Rhodes, the president and CEO of Minnesota Philanthropy Partners, and a Guinness World Record judge will all be on hand at the event.

The mural will be displayed at the depot through the end of the month.

“It has created a great community spirit and people are having so much fun with it,” she says.

Source: Laura Mylan, project manager, Forever Saint Paul Challenge
Writer: Anna Pratt

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