Birth of a New Day

A controversial Midway Mural will receive a new design after community complaints.

The mural on Snelling and Van Buren currently has parts of the background and sun covered until the changes are made.

Catherine Stolz

The mural on Snelling and Van Buren currently has parts of the background and sun covered until the changes are made.

Catherine Stolz, Reporter

After concerns were raised from the Korean community, the mural on the corner Snelling and Van Buren will be getting a new background. Yuya Negishi, the mural’s creator, made this decision along with Jon Oppenheimer, the director of the Midway Murals project, the owner of Kim’s Market, and members of the Korean American Association of Minnesota. The mural, entitled Birth of a New Day, is painted on the side of Kim’s Korean Market on Snelling.

The painting depicts an orange sun with yellow and blue rays, which Oppenheimer described as meant to “signal a brighter future for us all,” but to some could resemble the flag of the Japanese Imperial Army.

Members of the Korean community saw the artwork as a reminder of the Japanese occupation of Korea and parts of China from the late nineteenth century until the end of World War II in 1945.  During this time, most arable land was owned by Japanese landlords and rented out to Korean farmers, who in return had to pay their crops as rent, forcing many women and children into factory work in order to pay taxes.

Steps have already been taken to change the background of the mural.  The decision was made on September 9, and Negishi has since been sketching new designs for the background.  He hopes to submit his sketches for approval soon. The sketching process can take up to ten hours on a single design, and he is expected to submit two or three ideas for approval by Oppenhiemer and members of the Korean community,

Negishi hopes that his mural will still convey the same message of a bright future that his original work intended.

“It’s impossible to make everyone happy through my art,” Negishi stated, but he also wants to ensure that customers of Kim’s Market, and other members of the community are able to enjoy his work as well. 

There is no expected completion date at this time, but Negishi hopes to have the mural finished “by the time it gets cold.”

The sun has already been covered up and scaffolding has been put in place next to Kim’s Market. Plans for the background are underway, but the rest of the mural is expected to remain the same.

Negishi is a local artist based in Minneapolis. He was born in a village near Tokyo, Japan and incorporates much of his Japanese heritage in his artwork.  Negishi moved to Minneapolis in 2010 and has been an involved member of the local artistic community since. In addition to working on his own pieces, he teaches workshops and classes in calligraphy and Japanese art.

Oppenheimer as is the lead artist of the Midway Murals project. He commissioned all of the murals and is in charge of their installation and maintenance. Oppenheimer is also active member of the Hamline-Midway Community, leading the Friends of Hamline Park group as well.