Photo by Barbie Porter
The newest public art in Frazee can be found along Main Avenue. CornerStone helped bring the idea to fruition and is represented by Karen Pifher (from left). Kari Hardmeyer was the artist of the project and Tom Watson owns the building.

By Barbie Porter


razee has a new art mural and a set of wings.  ¶  The downtown art addition was recently completed at 305 West Main Avenue. The mural, which showcases a sunset over a lake is located on the side of the building that is owned by Tom Watson.  ¶  Life-sized wings were painted are on the front of the building and there is a $50 prize attached for one lucky person. Karen Pifher, CornerStone board member, explained for those who take a picture with the wings and post it on the CornerStone Facebook page with their names will be entered in a drawing to win $50. The drawing will take place on Oct. 15. 

Rural Frazee resident Kari Hardmeyer is the artist behind the public artwork, but more than 15 volunteers donated 100 hours of time to make the project a reality. 

“If we had to pay for this, the project cost would’ve easily been around $25,000 to $30,000,” said Pifher. “We paid $1,800.”

Most in the community of Frazee know the CornerStone group, as they are working toward renovating the old Methodist Church (which was sold to the group for $500) for a youth center.

Before the CornerStone group officially formed, community meetings were held to create a vision of how the community would improve the city. Public art was noted. When the CornerStone group approached Hardmeyer to paint a mural, she quickly hopped aboard. While admittedly nervous about being tasked with a public art piece, she didn’t back down from the challenge. 

Photo by Barbie Porter
Tom Watson purchase the Main Avenue building in the early 2000s. It features a mural on the side and a set of wings. The building is rented by a business that repairs and replaces garage doors.

The business owner of Twisted Yoga in Frazee worked with CornerStone to find a location for the mural. When they approached Watson, no arm twisting was needed.

“He said, let’s do it and get it done,” recalled Pifher.

Watson nodded, adding he moves freight and is in the trucking industry, so when it came to the artistic side of the project, he took a hands off approach.

“I wanted it to be good and make people proud to be in or from Frazee,” Watson said. “And they did it a great job of doing just that.”

  When the project was originally envisioned, the crew hoped to paint the mural directly on the cement building. After some research, the crew learned the mural would have more longevity if specially-made sign boards were used. While the boards were being acquired, Watson gave the building minor repairs as well as a new gutter system to prevent water falling from the roof from running off on the mural.  

When the sign boards arrived, Watson lent the CornerStone a boom truck to install the canvas and sand the boards before painting the building a deep blue. Then it was time for Hardmeyer to daydream and allow the mural to form.

“I didn’t know what I was going to paint,” she said. “All I knew was that I wanted something that would catch the eye and use beautiful colors.”

After one of those deep thinks, Hardmeyer headed to her home by Wymer Lake. As she passed by Town Lake, where the city has a public beach,  the setting sun caught her eye. She pulled to the side of the road, as she had done many times before, to watch picturesque scene unfold.

“I realized I found my inspiration,” she said. 

Capturing the sunset was first to take shape, then came adding in the foreground and recreational elements that go with water. 

Watson divulged he did have one request as the artwork took shape. He asked that a few frogs be added to the piece. Hardmeyer answered the request and also placed the entire piece in a white border with the words “greetings from” on the top left corner and the city name in large letters on the horizon. 

“The entire thing was a challenge,” Hardmeyer said. “Putting on the first glob of paint was the hardest though. I stood there for hours. I measured and measured again and measured again because I wanted it as centered as possible.”

After the piece was done, she added a set of decorative wings with inspiring words on the front of the building. Hardmeyer said she and her husband Seth are avid travelers. And during their visits to other areas she noticed a trend of wings appearing as public art. 

“There are people who travel to certain towns to take pictures with wings,” she said. “I thought this would help put Frazee on that map.”