Art project to brighten Bob Dylan’s Iron Range hometown

Located at the corner of Fifth Street and Hennepin Ave South in Minneapolis, this five-story mural was completed by Brazilian artist Eduardo Kobra and crew. (PHOTO:, Flickr CC)

After Bob Dylan received his Nobel Prize in Literature, something clicked in Dylan’s hometown of Hibbing, Minnesota. A group of community members formed the Hibbing Dylan Project, with the goal of celebrating the legacy of the folk troubadour’s Iron Range roots.

As I’ve written, I was active in Dylan Days, which enjoyed a 14-year run in Hibbing. Though it was popular with visitors, it was often a challenge to engage the broader Hibbing community. Old resentments and incorrect assumptions about Dylan’s opinion of his hometown were the biggest barriers.

But the reality of Dylan’s global legacy finally seems to have taken hold, along with the long-overdue realization that Dylan actually speaks highly of the Iron Range.

One of the Hibbing Dylan Project organizers, Katie Fredeen, has led an effort to install public art throughout downtown Hibbing. In partnership with the nonprofit Hibbing Arts Council and Lees Rental company, empty storefronts will be decorated with visual artwork, especially murals.

Applications for artwork should be submitted to before 5 p.m. Friday, March 31.

According to the Hibbing Dylan Project, these applications should include:
• Artist’s resume (highlighting any public art projects)
• 2 letters of recommendation (please have them speak to the timeliness of your work)
• 5 representative digital images of your work
• AND a written proposal with initial imagery to demonstrate your concept at one of the three spaces available

The selection committee will judge proposals on the following criteria:
• Quality, originality, and appeal of the concept
• Concept’s capacity to capture the spirit of Bob Dylan’s work
• Concept’s appropriateness for a public setting
• Artist’s proven capacity for timely completion of the project

An additional caveat:

The art will be installed in the locations in early May and will remain there until September or until the property has been rented, whichever comes first. Selected artwork and its likeness will become property of the Hibbing Dylan Project, which reserves the right to use the image for promotional and retail purposes.

The Hibbing Dylan Project will hold another small fundraiser this spring, this one with live music. The Iron Range-based band Hobo Revival will perform at the Crown Ballroom in downtown Hibbing at 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 1. Tickets cost $10. Proceeds will go to the organization’s long term goal of a permanent tribute to Dylan in his hometown.

Public art in the underused spaces of the Iron Range is an excellent idea, one I’ve written about before. Not only does public art provide opportunity for artists, but it also beautifies struggling downtowns and entices economic activity. It’s a project infused with passion (if not much money) which will affect positive change.

If the success of Dylan’s career in songwriting, music, and art help inspire this in Hibbing, great. If the movement spreads throughout the whole Iron Range, all the better.




  1. Gerry Mantel says

    In honor of … the World’s Biggest Wanker!

    (“I’ve known some skankers and I’ve known some bankers,
    But you are the world’s biggest … wanker.”)

    Note: He does like spaghetti on occasion.

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