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KARE in the Air: Mankato art silos

The grain storage units provided an unusual mural canvas for Australian artist Guido van Helten.

MANKATO, Minn. — There is an artistic side to farming in Minnesota, at least when it comes to a collection of grain silos sitting just outside Mankato. 

Australian artist Guido van Helten has painted murals all over the globe, but in 2019 he began working on eight 135-foot tall silos at the old Ardent Mills site, turning them into one big canvas.

The artist painted the mural by looking back on a moment in time that touched him at an annual pow wow in Mankato, when an indigenous girl was teaching middle school students how to dance.

Using brushes and sprayers, van Helten worked in tones of black, white and gray, using industrial paint that absorbs into the concrete for a 3-D effect.

“It’s been everything I’ve thought about, every day,” he told the Mankato Free Press at its completion in summer of 2020. “I’m very happy. It’s a special one.”

Guido van Helten has shared that the children featured in the mural are based off actual people, and residents say the silos are an amazing conversation piece that has connected the community.