Local artist Trey Everett has 'very large' downtown Crookston mural in the works

Mike Christopherson
Artist Trey Everett stands by the south wall of Scott Maves' True Value Hardware building, all of which will feature a mural that Everett says will take him at least the month of July to complete.

Scott Maves and Trey Everett are teaming up to, in Everett’s words, “bring beauty, inspiration, and an artistic flair to downtown Crookston” with a very large mural project on the south-facing brick wall of the hardware store on North Main. How large is “very large”? Everett says it’ll take up the entire south wall of the building, and he thinks it’ll take him the entire month of July to finish.

    A while back, Everett recalls, the two began talking about adding “something" to the brick side of the building, owned by Maves, and it became apparent they both were passionate about a mural project. Currently the Crookston Classic Cruisers mural appears on one section of the building, and while it has been an iconic art piece for a number of years, Maves said he was ready for something new. Everett loves mural work and has wanted the opportunity to paint a large mural for a number of years. He has had experience with working on a number of indoor and outdoor mural projects, including last year's project on the side of the Crookston Community Arts building on Fifth Street downtown.

    “(The True Value) building is in a prime location near a busy intersection that receives a lot of passing cars and pedestrians,” Everett says. “A significantly sized outdoor mural will be a free public art piece for anyone to be inspired by and experience. The great thing about outdoor murals is that they are open 24/7 for anyone no matter background, race, age, sex, religion, etc.”

    The downtown area, especially near True Value, has been an ideal target area for the beautification and artistic inspiration of Crookston, Everett notes. Across the street from True Value is Courtyard Park, which was renovated/upgraded in 2020 and now includes new benches, a water-filling station, and a bicycle repair station. The green space on the south side of True Value (where the mural will face) has been identified as a priority area for the Crookston Downtown Development Partnership. Designs have been submitted to make this green space a hub for the community to gather to eat, play, relax, and have food trucks present. A mural backdrop to this developed green space would be significant, Everett says.

    "The theme of the mural design is ‘Unity and Diversity,’ he says. “The hope I have is that the mural will help our Crookston community understand how fragile unity is and feel a stronger urgency to embrace diversity, which I think will help remove some barriers to being a healthy community."

     Earlier this month Everett received word from the Northwest Minnesota Arts Council that the grant application he submitted was approved.

    “Now we can state moving forward with prepping the wall, laying out grid lines and putting down the base layer,” he explains. “The entire wall will not be painted. There will be spaces of bare brick but much of the wall will have images on it. I don't want to reveal what the final image is just yet.” But, he adds, he’s shown the image to a few people, including City Administrator Amy Finch, whom, Everett notes, “Loved it.”

    The mural initiative is a team effort, he says. To wit, Maves is providing equipment and various supplies, retired Crookston High School art teacher Gary Stegman is providing ongoing advice and support, developer Jeff Evers is helping out with lift equipment, and Crookston Paint and Glass is helping out as well. Also, Crookston firefighters last week spent an afternoon power-washing the entire south wall of the building.

    The CHS Builders Club, made up of junior high students, received a grant for 20 gallons of True Value paint, too. Everett says he’ll be leading a teaching project with the students in the club in some way with the mural, but the specifics have yet to be determined.

    The image will be a calligram, an image made with words that is Everett’s specialty. (He has submitted many opinion/editorial calligrams to the Times in recent years.)

    “I am using words that describe Crookston and would love to get input from the community on what words they would like to see in the image,” he says. “The words can reflect the present moment and past history of Crookston as well as future hope. All the words included will be positive, inspiring, and inclusive.”

    He notes that New Paths Area Learning Center teacher Joan Darco is having students submit words for the image.

    Everett will be the main artist for the project. He has been an active artist in the Crookston and surrounding communities for a number of years. He has had a five school residencies, has taught art lessons, workshops, online classes, and led a number of healing art retreats. He primarily focuses on two components: calligrams, and art that encourages introspection and healing. Everett designed and painted murals for the Crookston Community Theatre group in 2020, the Grand Theatre marquee, three murals inside the Grand Theatre, the mural in the Crookston Youth Foundation’s The Cove youth center, and other community projects.

    As is often the case with many arts and culture-related projects, the mural project is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Northwest Minnesota Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund through the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment.”