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Duluth Street Art Initiative pays tribute to health care workers with sign perched in front of St. Luke's

Painting features three health care workers and the words 'thank you frontline heroes.'

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From left: Judge Shaun Floerke, Cole Floerke, artist Sean Moore and Connor Floerke install a 4-by-8 foot painted sign in front of St. Luke's clinic building Saturday morning to thank health care workers. Moore and artist Michelle Misgen created the piece with the Duluth Street Art Initiative. (Tyler Schank / tschank@duluthnews.com)

A 4-by-8-foot painted sign was installed in front of St. Luke's hospital on First Street Saturday to pay tribute to health care and other frontline workers.

Michelle Misgen, with the Duluth Art Institute, and her partner Sean Moore created the painting featuring three health care workers and the words "thank you frontline heroes." They started the project a few weeks ago with encouragement from the Greater Downtown Council and Minnesota Sixth Judicial District Judge Shaun Floerke, both involved in the Duluth Street Art Initiative.

Misgen said with art galleries closed due to the pandemic it's important for the public to have access to art through other means.

"Through public art you're able to reach more people," Misgen said. "You're bringing it out of the galleries and into the streets making it more accessible. Art has a way of bringing people together."

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Misgen said Duluth Street Art Initiative is also working on another project with a similar theme that involves creating 6-by-6 inch tiles that depict the various frontline services including grocery, child care, janitorial and postal workers. The final details of that project and where it will go are not yet finalized.

Floerke, who helped install the sign Saturday morning, said the initiative is about showcasing hope and encouragement. He referenced friends who work in the medical community, including one in central Minnesota who moved into a camper and is forgoing seeing her family.

"They've got a lot on their shoulders so any way we can say thank you seems like a win-win," Floerke said. "I hope they know the community is behind them and supporting them and really appreciates the work they're doing."

Kristi Stokes, president of the Greater Downtown Council, said it's one way to put a smile on people's faces.

"It's nice to showcase an artist and also do something positive," Stokes said.

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