Duluth artist Paul LaJeunesse unveils ‘Forge’ a mural in Grand Marais
Kalli Hawkins

Duluth artist Paul LaJeunesse unveils ‘Forge’ a mural in Grand Marais

The North Shore is home to a plethora of creative and talented artists, many of whom have left their artistic touch on the streets and buildings of Grand Marais.

One of the most recent artistic additions to Grand Marais is a 10-foot by 20-foot mural titled ‘Forge’ on the north side of Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply by Duluth-based artist Paul LaJeunesse. The mural and activity are made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board and supported by the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

“It’s the idea of transition,” LaJeunesse said, describing his painting. “It’s indicative and representative of the area, both being this kind of a launching point to the Boundary Waters, but also the historic nature of the Voyagers in the tradition of trade and travel.”

While the painting is not of a physical location in Minnesota, it is a collage of images LaJeunesse has collected with his camera of Northlands landscapes and waterways.

Earlier this summer, while visiting Grand Marais, LaJeunesse reached out to Jack Stone, the owner of Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply, about the potential mural opportunity. “He was very responsive,” LaJeunesse said. After getting the approval and identifying the soon-to-be mural’s location on the building’s north side, he began sending draft drawings to Stone.

Installation of the mural began on Oct. 4, and by the end of the day on Oct. 5, LaJeunesse had finished the border and final touches. He hopes the residents and visitors of Grand Marais will enjoy the mural for years to come and take time to reflect on the painting as they enter the Co-op or Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply. “It has the opportunity to elicit a sense of memory, nostalgia, and that suspension of disbelief.”

LaJeunesse received his Master of Fine Arts in painting from Bowling Green State University in 2006. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, with murals in Duluth, North Mankato, Burnsville, Virginia, and Chattanooga, TN. His artwork investigates relationships among experiences of time, space, and place as a way in which we assign meaning and construct our sense of identity.

WTIP’s Kalli Hawkins visited Paul LaJeunesse on Oct. 4 while he was installing the mural to learn about the process, his artistic style, and more. Audio below.