A fresh face for La Palma

Minneapolis artist Gustavo Lira will begin painting a new mural for La Palma Supermercado in the next few weeks. The colorful mural will wrap around two sides of the building. (Linda Baumeister/Review staff)

East Side eatery getting a new look

Expect a colorful change on Payne Avenue come October.

La Palma Supermercado, a Salvadoran grocery and café, will be getting a new mural this fall as part of a $38,000 façade renovation. 

The project will be funded with money from St. Paul’s Capital Improvement Plan, and was loaned out by the East Side Neighborhood Development Company.

The contract for the mural was awarded last week to Gustavo Lira, a Minneapolis artist who has painted many murals in the Twin Cities area.

Lira lived on the East Side for six years and says he’s passionate about bringing more art to the community.

“The neighborhood really needs more artistic expression to look more welcoming (and) to reflect diversity,” he says. “I hope this will be the beginning of other people in the community (starting) to create their own art form in their buildings, and that it will inspire others to expand and do (art) as well in the neighborhood.”

Lira’s design was chosen from six others by a selection committee that included members of the ESNDC and the owners of La Palma. “It was a hard choice, but (Lira’s design) represented more of the style of the Chalatenango region of El Salvador,” says Anne DeJoy, ESNDC’s director of commercial development.

La Palma’s owners, Luis Gutierrez and his wife Blanca, named their business after their hometown, La Palma, which is located in the Chalatenango region of El Salvador.

La Palma is known as a peace town for its role in ending the Salvadoran Civil War.

“In the 1980s, they started doing negotiations to stop the (civil) war. The first meeting that they did with the president of El Salvador; they did it in our town, La Palma,” explains Luis Gutierrez.

The mural design reflects La Palma’s legacy.

“(Lira’s mural design) identifies the peace that we live now in El Salvador,” Gutierrez says. He adds that he admires the vibrant colors and simple styling of the mural’s design, which is based on the traditional artistic style of La Palma.

“This will reflect our community and will be really, really good,” Gutierrez says.

Because the building is partially stucco, the mural will be painted on large panels that will be installed on exterior walls. The mural will wrap around two sides, from the south-facing wall to the storefront. It will be visible from Payne Avenue and the parking lot.

La Palma’s façade renovation also includes new paint, a new awning, new signage and new lighting. The outdoor renovations are part of a series of renovations La Palma has been busy with this year.

Capital Improvement Plan funding requires a dollar-for-dollar match. Recently, La Palma invested $160,297 into interior renovations, so it was more than qualified for the $38,000 match.

“Over the years they’ve turned that small grocery store into a grocery store, café (and) meat market, and they’ve created jobs in the process, so we see this as a real opportunity to reinvest in a business that’s been growing,” DeJoy says. 

Lira will begin working on the design in the next few weeks.  La Palma plans to unveil the mural in October.

Kaylin Creason can be reached at staffwriter@lillienews.com or at 651-748-7825.


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