Our Building as Art

Our Building as Art - The Incomparable Tilework of Susan E. Warner

We are ever grateful to our predecessors…

who had the foresight to commission the artwork which lovingly wraps our building. It turned our store into a decorated receptacle to hold the items that we sell, and 928 Raymond Ave. is now public art for all. The colorful works positively glow, reaching out to lift your spirits – especially the wildly imaginative tiles!

The wall compositions were created by Susan E. Warner. Each with a uniquely varied texture they are feats of pottery craft, even painting artistry, plus architectural engineering smarts. The process started with scale drawings that were enlarged and transferred to tiles. Several coats of underglazes and glazes were applied with Chinese Hake brushes, and the tiles fired multiple times to achieve a painterly effect.

Our arty building is in good company – Susan and her husband, George Hansen, recently installed a pair of monumental mosaics at the MSP Airport. Titled A Perfect Day at the Lake, they are viewable anytime in the Transit Center above the Terminal 1-Lindbergh LRT station. Other commissions include public art for the University of Minnesota Crookston and St. Paul campuses, and the Minneapolis sister-city of Ibaraki, Japan.

So step outside of the Hampden Park Co-op to look at Susan’s tiles next time you shop. Then hop on or in your ride of choice to take a tour of her work in the near area. Here's a simple pdf map.

Tablecloth2005: An outdoor "dining room" was built with recycled curbs from the old parking lot, a floor of pavers, and a planter wall to define the room. Tilework includes Susan's floral mosaic tablecloth draping the picnic table. This photo shows Susan doing a bit of maintenance in 2018. Southwest corner.

Welcoming Arch1996 (detail shown): The side windows above the foyer addition are crowned with a welcoming gateway arch festooned in fruits & vines. In the black & white edges are the silhouettes of rooftops from buildings & houses representing the neighborhood. South parking-lot side of foyer.

Seasons of the Co-op1996 (detail shown): The Raymond Ave. entrance presents a joyous graphical patchwork evoking the abundance of the co-op: the seasons, flowers, coffee, lunch, dessert, produce… The border of black & white rooftop silhouettes continues. West side of entry above awning • On the lower brick wall is the tiled 928 address plaque which is also used as a graphic in our newsletter masthead.

Your Neighborhood Co-op Grocery2009–10: This work vividly represents our store and invites the neighborhood. Notice the imagery within the letters: fruit, grain, farm fields, barn, animals, vegetables. Paying homage to the whimsical style of vintage postcards for our historical building, four different fonts make every word stand out because each word is significant. North side on Hampden Ave.

Greetings from Minnesota2008: Created for the state sesquicentennial, this monumental travel postcard highlights regional arts, culture, myths & landmarks. Look for: return of the wolf; musical symbols of Judy Garland, Prince, Bob Dylan; Weisman Museum; Walker's Spoonbridge & Cherry; and more. Framed by tiles for the 87 counties. Susan included public participation of all ages at locations such as: Gilbert Public Library on the Iron Range; Chautauqua event at Waseca County Historical Society in south-central MN; veterans at the WWII fly-over event on the MN State Capitol grounds; and Native students from Red Lake, north of Bemidji. MN State Fairgrounds Food Bldg. • Cooper off Dan Patch • You can go onto the grounds anytime unless there's a paid-admission event.

RSVP2011 (2 shown): A trio of columns representing the history, nature and people of the south Como community. Meander the distance of Calvary Cemetery and look for images that reflect: the railroad industry; Como Zoo; Como Park such as the Schiffman mermaid fountain & Gates Ajar; a Dalmatian symbolizing the old fire station; abundant flora & fauna; and more. Front Ave. at Chatsworth, Jameson & St. Albans Streets.

Rondo Community Library Fireplace2006: In this cornerstone of the Frogtown community, pictures & words inspire and celebrate all things reading & writing. The artwork combines pottery skills: clay tile making in the richly embossed surround, and ceramic mosaic in the charming hearth with a classic yellow pencil. 461 Dale St. N. @ University Ave. • Located in the Quiet Study Room • See during library hours.

Find out more about Susan E. Warner at her website. Here's an interesting article from the Twin Cities Daily Planet with a bit of info about the collaborative public art process.

The above post expands on the article published in the 928 News, Winter 2018 issue; read the entire issue here.

Info thanks to Susan + a previous article by Rachel Fang • Photos from Linda Andersen, Christine DeMars, Susan E. Warner • Posted by Christine DeMars • December 2018