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June Le steps up to paint a "self portrait" of Rochester

The Vietnamese artist, now living in Minnesota, created a mural depiction of the city.

June Le mural portrait.jpg
Artist June Le stands in front of a mural, "Our Home," she designed with community input that's in the entrance to the Rochester Art Center. The art center dedicated the mural Thursday, May 19, 2022.
John Molseed / Post Bulletin
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ROCHESTER — June Le doesn’t live in Rochester, but says she has learned much about the city painting its portrait.

“Our Home,” the largest mural the Minneapolis artist has created to date will greet visitors to the Rochester Art Center.

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The mural was commissioned by Art Center curator Zoe Cinel. She asked Le, a fellow graduate of Minneapolis College of Art and Design to create the mural. Le, who is from Vietnam, had reached out to Cinel, from Italy, for art, career and immigration advice. Le said she leapt at an opportunity to create the work.

“Even though I was born into the digital era, I like traditional mediums,” Le said Thursday at a ribbon cutting and dedication for the mural.

Depictions of the Mayo Clinic’s Plummer Building on the left, and the Gonda and Mayo buildings on the right bookend the piece. Le said she knew they would be important parts of the work, but she preferred to put four figures — all on bicycles — in the center of the work.

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The historic Avalon Hotel, which once housed the only downtown Rochester hotel that allowed Black guests, is the only other specific landmark. A general cafe stands in for the multiple spots people can enjoy a cup of coffee.

“People kept saying, don’t forget the coffee,” Le said.

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A panel of a mural depiction of Rochester at the Rochester Art Center.
John Molseed / Post Bulletin

Le designed the mural based on input from elementary through high school students and other members of the community. The Art Center hosted three sessions that were led by visual artist Roshan Ganu and artist June Le to discuss ways to visually represent the city.

Two public paint days were also held.

The area trails were another crucial aspect people suggested, Le added.

“People just love the trails so much,” she said.

An airplane symbolizes visitors from all over the world who come to Rochester for the Mayo Clinic.

Pamela Hugdahl, Art Center executive director, called the work a “self portrait of Rochester.” She said the work will be a good way to greet visitors to the city.

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Le said she chose colors and images that imbue happiness. Shapes in the background were drawn by some of the elementary school students involved in the project, she said. Their input was fun and added a level of spontaneity to creating the mural.

“Kids are quirky, they’re fun,” Le said. “They think differently and act differently.”

Le said she was told the mural would likely remain in place for three to five years. Le said she hopes a new one with fresh input would replace it.

Mural dedication.JPG
Rochester Art Center staff, board members and artists gather to dedicate a mural depicting Rochester in the entrance to the museum May 19, 2022.
John Molseed / Post Bulletin

Related Topics: ROCHESTERART
John Molseed joined the Post Bulletin in 2018. He covers arts, culture, entertainment, nature and other fun stories he's surprised he gets paid to cover. When he's not writing articles about Southeast Minnesota artists and musicians, he's either picking banjo, brewing beer, biking or looking for other hobbies that begin with the letter "b." Readers can reach John at 507-285-7713 or jmolseed@postbulletin.com.
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