Spam, Loons and Josh Harnett? They’re on the Table in Josie Lewis’ Collage

The afternoon rolls around and it’s time for the weekly
office meeting. The boss rambles on about the newest project, while the intern
tries to pipe in with a creative idea.

All you can think about is how the caffeine isn’t keeping
you awake. Then you look down. Patterns of blue, red and green swirl on the
table in front of you. Then you start seeing faces and figures—Josh Hartnett,
Judy Garland, a loon. No, you’re not hallucinating; you’re just sitting at one
of the St. Paul Union Depot’s newest art pieces.

The Skinny:

  • Fun Fact: In the 1920s, nearly 300 trains per day rolled through the Union Depot
  • Josie Lewis
  • Minneapolis, MN
  • Lewis on Pinterest

“I love the idea of people sitting there in a really boring work meeting, and then they get to look at the table,” said Josie Lewis, a Minneapolis-based collage artist.

When the historic Union Depot was refurbished in the Lowertown neighborhood, the Ramsey County Regional Rail Authority hoped it would become the “living room” of St. Paul — somewhere people could meet, eat lunch, study or simply pass the time. They put out a call for functional art. Lewis submitted an idea for a collaged conference table, featuring all things Minnesotan.

“My overall composition became the river as it loops through the two downtowns,” she said.

To  help identify which Minnesota icons should grace the table, Lewis asked her friends on Facebook. She received more than 50 responses.

“Some of it [was] funny, but things that I couldn’t really use, like ‘passive aggressive,’” Lewis said. “I don’t know how you get a photo of that.”

Instead the artist, who grew up on the North Shore and has lived in the Twin Cities for nearly two decades, settled on images such as the Minneapolis Scultpure Garden’s “Spoonbridge  and Cherry”, Spam and Prince.

Lewis hopes to install the 9-foot long table in the Depot on Aug. 16.

“What I hope happens is the process of surprise and discovery,” Lewis said. “I imagine what will happen is people won’t know what it is until they sit down and look at it. Then they’ll be like, ‘Wait, is that Garrison Keillor?’”