Green Art for the Green Line — Part III

Today, I’m going to focus on David Zinn’s temporary street art, as an example of a way to create an ever-changing treasure hunt along the Green Line. With small creatures to be discovered on the sidewalk and in the landscape, walking is greatly enriched. In my neighborhood, I know of three locations that are favorites for family walks, as the children rush ahead to check on fairies hiding in a garden, a tiny doorway between the roots of a tree, or solar powered dragonflies that change colors at dusk. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Saint Paul commissioned an artist to create a changing array of images on the sidewalks and curbs along the Green Line?

In researching the images that appeared in the Green Art collection in my October 5th post – “Green Art for the Green Line”, I found that three of them were the work of David Zinn. Here they are again:

raking leavescurb gardenpick a flower

According to his website,, “David Zinn has been creating original artwork in and around Ann Arbor since 1987, serving all manner of commercial clients from small shops to major municipalities while simultaneously sneaking “pointless” art into the world at large.”

“David’s temporary street art is composed entirely of chalk, charcoal and found objects, and is always improvised on location. Most of these drawings have appeared on sidewalks in Ann Arbor and elsewhere in Michigan, but some have surfaced as far away as subway platforms in Manhattan and construction debris in the Sonoran Desert. Zinn’s chalk work began in 2001 as an excuse to linger outdoors, but has since achieved global notoriety through the sharing of photos on Facebook, Huffington Post UK, The Cheezburger Network, Street Art Utopia, and Archie McPhee’s Endless Geyser of Awesome. His most frequent characters are Sluggo, a bright green monster with stalk eyes and irreverent habits, and Philomena, a phlegmatic flying pig. As of 2013, there have been a lot of mice as well.”

Some additional images feature David Zinn’s favorite characters:

busking_in_burns_park_wide_hires fair_share_wide_lores flying_pig_standpipe_hires maltby_middleschool_window_hires past_the_repast_hires_cmyk

Some of his art celebrates holidays and seasons of the year:


Other characters appear from time to time:



This image suggests perhaps the art might serve to remind people to look before crossing the street:


And all his art attracts children to interact with the characters:


Here is the artist, David Zinn, at work, surrounded by a crowd of young people and Sluggo with an inspirational message:


In the final image, the whole message reads: “Occupy Your Imagination or Someone Else Will”. Wouldn’t it be great if the City of Saint Paul, or a non-profit, sponsored an artist to create sidewalk art along the Green Line, especially in the blocks between stations, so that families would go walking together, looking for the latest piece of Green Art along the Green Line? Perhaps there might be a treasure hunt on a Sunday from time to time, with prizes for those who found a certain number of images.

Is there an artist out there who would like to take this on? Is there an agency that would like to sponsor it? Or maybe it could be a kickstarter campaign. It’s the type of project that could go a long way toward creating an 8-80 City that works for everyone.


Anne White

About Anne White

Anne White lives in the Merriam Park neighborhood of Saint Paul. She is currently the Land Use Chair for the Union Park District Council (District 13) and serves on the Governing Council of the District Councils Collaborative of Saint Paul and Minneapolis (DCC). After moving to the Twin Cities in 2003, she retired from her work as a professional photographer and began working to ensure that community concerns were fully considered in planning for the Green Line LRT. Now that the line is up and running, including stations at Hamline, Victoria and Western, her main focus is on walkability, making sure that people of all ages and levels of mobility have safe, pleasant walking routes to LRT and other destinations. She was recently appointed to the St Paul Transportation Committee of the Planning Commission as the Active Living community representative.