St. Cloud sidewalk chalk artist spreads joy with masked paintings

Chalk art on sidewalks in St. Cloud
St. Cloud artist Karen Krey is spreading a little cheer during the COVID-19 pandemic through sidewalk chalk murals of classic paintings -- with their famous subjects wearing masks.
Courtesy of Karen Krey

An artist in St. Cloud is spreading a little cheer during the COVID-19 pandemic through sidewalk chalk murals of classic paintings — with their famous subjects wearing masks.

Karen Krey is an artist who usually works with different media, including pastels and mosaic paint chips. During the COVID-19 restrictions, she found herself with some extra time.

Her first effort was Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa,” chalked on a sidewalk along St. Cloud’s Riverside Drive. That was followed by a replica of “Girl with a Pearl Earring,” by Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer.

The vivid, colorful drawings are attracting attention in the St. Cloud neighborhood. In Krey’s murals, the women in both paintings are wearing masks. 

She said she wanted to bring a smile to people’s faces during difficult times, as well as to serve as a reminder to mask up and not spread germs.

“It's been a very positive sort of thing,” she said. “It’s very fun.”

Weather permitting, Krey plans to tackle another sidewalk mural soon. She said most likely it will be Andy Warhol’s iconic painting of Marilyn Monroe — wearing a mask, of course.

Your support matters.

You make MPR News possible. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. Help ensure MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.