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Minnesota State Fair art unveiled

The Minnesota State Fair's 2017 Commemorative Art was unveiled on the State Fairgrounds Thursday evening, June 8, 2017 by St. Paul artist Ta-coumba Aiken. (Courtesy of the Minnesota State Fair)1 / 2
The Minnesota State Fair's 2017 Commemorative Art (shown) was unveiled on the State Fairgrounds Thursday evening, June 8, 2017 by St. Paul artist Ta-coumba Aiken. The original piece will be on display in the Fine Arts Center during the 2017 Great Minnesota Get-Together, Aug. 24 through Labor Day, Sept. 4, and can be viewed online at mnstatefair.org/art. The 2017 Official Commemorative Art is the 14th in a series of annual artwork created exclusively for the State Fair. (Courtesy of the Minnesota State Fair)2 / 2

ST. PAUL—St. Paul artist Ta-coumba Aiken's commemorative art for the 2017 Minnesota State Fair was unveiled Thursday afternoon at the Fairgrounds.

A ribbon of pathways swirl around iconic State Fair images from the Sky Ride and Ferris wheel to animals, ticket booths, people and much, much more in a twisting mosaic of vibrant colors.

"In preparation, I visited last year's Fair 12 times over nine days and found myself concentrating on the enormous amount of energy and positive spirit I felt all over the fairgrounds," Aiken said in a news release. "I observed people of every race, culture, gender and they were all exploring. Just like the Fair, my piece has your eyes moving from one place to another until they settle in on something familiar. I had hoped to embrace this magical place in a whimsical way, and I believe I accomplished just that."

The original acrylic-on-canvas piece will be on display in the Fine Arts Center during the 2017 State Fair, Aug. 24 through Labor Day.

Aiken is an artist, arts administrator and educator who focuses on public art and collaborative projects. He serves on the board of the Minneapolis College of Art & Design. He's also known in as the unofficial mayor of Lowertown St. Paul.

He has worked with more than 600 murals and public art sculptures with themes ranging from local history to "his own style of rhythmic pattern and spirit writing," according to the State Fair news release. His mural in St. Paul's Union Depot holds the Guinness World Record for the largest picture made with Lite Brite bulbs. His work can be found internationally in public and private collections, including those of the Walker Art Center, RBC Wealth Management, BUSH Foundation, Herbie Hancock, Taj Mahal, Maya Angelou and the Spiritmuseum in Stockholm, Sweden. (Go to ta-coumbaaiken.com for more information.)

The commemorative poster, a limited number of signed prints and other merchandise featuring the art are available for purchase at msffoundation.org. Proceeds support the Minnesota State Fair Foundation. The 2017 Official Commemorative Art is the 14th in a series of annual artwork created exclusively for the State Fair.

In previous years, Minnesota State Fair artists have included: Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher (2004), Mary GrandPré (2005), Nancy Carlson (2006), Michael Birawer (2007), Edie Abnet (2008), Leo Stans (2009), Deborah Voyda Rogers (2010), Steve Thomas (2011), Joe Heffron (2012), Marie Olofsdotter (2013), Emily L. Taylor (2014), Adam Turman (2015) and Michael Sweere (2016). A gallery of past artwork is available at mnstatefair.org/art.

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