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Saint Paul Streets

Streetscapes are the connective tissue of cities. Their design, development and maintenance is a fundamental role of city engineering: paving, lighting, trees and bikeways are the visible; gutters, storm drains, utilities are the underlying invisible. They offer opportunities for art to elevate communities, one block and one neighborhood at a time.

Saint Paul Streets seamlessly aligns with existing public improvements. Flora stop sign posts by Lisa Elias, made of self-weathering steel, replace irreparable or expired standard stop signs, are complemented by Brad Kaspari’s floral rain gardens, which make the invisible water system visible.

Saint Paul Streets re-imagines traditional assumptions of street vitality. Building on ideas established in Young’s sidewalk poetry project, Saint Paul Streets has developed new strategies and new reasons to insert public art in the narrow spaces of the seemingly complete and engineered street. The systemic transformation of place is quietly dramatic. With more than 7,000 stop signs in present-day Saint Paul, and with the plan to install more rain gardens in the future, the potential for art to create a new order in our everyday streets is realizable.

At the southeast corner of Macalester St. and Juliet Ave., two public art systems developed for streetscapes come together in a rare moment of synergy, with poetry from Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk immediately next to a flora stop sign post. One can imagine how these and future public art systems will one day weave together throughout the city to create a rich and artful public realm.


Numerous projects are underway in 2017: City Artist Aaron Dysart, with the artist team of Lisa Elias and Brad Kaspari, are expanding their repertoire from stop sign posts to include posts for no parking signs and bus stops. They also are designing new sculptures that will hang on lampposts and torchieres that will light a walkway with solar powered lights. Brad and Lisa are exploring how benches and bollards might be made into public art in three neighborhoods, Irve Dell is developing a new design for stop sign posts, to be installed this fall, and artists James Brenner and Teréz Iacovino are imagining new neighborhood projects to expand the artistic palette of Saint Paul.

About the Artists

Marcus Young

Marcus Young 楊墨 (b.1970, Hong Kong) was a City Artist with Public Art Saint Paul from 2006 to 2015, when he worked across City of Saint Paul departments to help shape public spaces, improve city systems, and deepen civic engagement. He is a behavioral and social practice artist making word not only for the public realm but for the concert stage and museums. As a City Artist, Young initiated the project, “Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk,” which transformed the city’s sidewalk maintenance program into a publishing entity for poetry. The project continues as “Sidewalk Poetry,” with an ever-expanding collection of poems, written by residents of Saint Paul. Now numbering at more than 1,000 poems, these works are found throughout the City of Saint Paul, providing moments to reflect, smile, puzzle, or delight to anyone walking, running, rolling, biking, or roller skating on St. Paul sidewalks. This project has achieved national recognition and has been emulated by towns and cities throughout the U.S.

Marcus has a BA in music from Carleton College and MFA in theater from the University of Minnesota. He is a Collaborating Director with Ananya Dance Theatre, and a recipient of awards from the McKnight Foundation, Bush Foundation, Jerome Foundation, Franklin Furnace, and New York Drama League.

Lisa Elias

My inspiration is simple- fluid lines, rays of light and organic forms.
I tend to make things that have a function and purpose- a light fixture, a gate, things we use daily and the material lasting a lifetime.
Metal has such disparate qualities. I work towards making it look delicate and graceful without loosing it’s functional intention and strength.
My work has been integrated into our city’s sidewalks, private homes and landscapes.

Some of my outdoor works include:
-I was one of 4 artist selected to design and build a drinking fountain in Minneapolis. My fountain called the ‘Field’ stands within a pocket park on 2nd Ave and 9th St.
-On Central Corridor Light Rail Transit on University Ave. in St. Paul, I installed storm water railings integrating forged elements to enhance otherwise basic railings for Capitol Region Water District.
-For Minnetonka Mills Burwell Park, I enhance a beautiful historic park by Barr Engineers by creating a 15ft x 11 ft high artistic arbor called ‘A canopy of Grass” and railings crossing over Minnehaha Creek.
-Today my work includes working in urban environments with a team lead by Marcus Young, city artist in residence for St. Paul and artist Brad Kaspari.

Our goal is to re-imagine streetscape elements in residential neighborhoods, give them a visual purpose without loosing important function and reveal a place for beauty. This past summer I installed almost 100 forged stop sign post for the City of St. Paul in our efforts of making everyday objects a work of art.


Brad Kaspari

Brad Kaspari is a visual artist, sculptor and public artist with a particular interest in kinetic sculptural devices. He has completed numerous public art commissions across the country, both as a solo artist and as a part of collaborative teams. His work ranges from temporary interactive sculptural installations to permanent sculptural object making and fully architecturally integrated projects such as terrazzo and decorative stone flooring treatments. He has received grants and awards from the Minnesota State Arts Board, the McKnight and Jerome Foundations and the National Terrazzo and Mosaic Association. Brad lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota where, for the past twenty-five years, he has directed his own design and fabrication firm, Kaspari Design Services, Inc.