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Bob Dylan by Eduardo Kobra

Eduardo Kobra Bob Dylan mural

Bob Dylan Mural by Eduardo Kobra

The vibrant Bob Dylan mural is the largest work of public art that world-renowned street artist Eduardo Kobra has created in the United States to date. It is also the most Instagrammed image in Minnesota. This five-story tribute to Bob Dylan was created in the fall of 2015 as a private commission. It has become iconic to downtown Minneapolis and the Hennepin Theatre District.

Kobra is a São Paulo, Brazil native who began as a young street artist in a low-income neighborhood, tagging with an older graffiti crew. Today, his celebrated works light up cities around the globe and include portraits of visionaries and activists such as Malala Yousefzai, Abraham Lincoln, inventor Alfred Nobel and rap idol Tupak Shakur.

While Dylan’s connections to Hennepin Avenue aren’t as well-known as his ties to the Dinkytown area of Minneapolis, Dylan and his brother once owned the Orpheum Theatre (today owned by the Hennepin Theatre Trust). In November 2014, the performer played a sold-out, three-night stand in the historic space.

A portrait of the artist as a young (and older) man

Kobra’s vision for the mural takes the form of a triptych, featuring glimpses of Dylan through the years, as a young and middle-aged musician and as a wizened, worldly poet of the people. The piece also incorporates lyrics from his famous social protest anthem “The Times They Are a-Changin’.”

To capture the spirit of his subjects, Kobra uses a grid system to lay down a photo-real portrait in black and white. Next, he colorblocks the image with the help of Brazilian artist collaborators who have worked with him for 15 years.

Together, the “Kobra Studio” (Silvio Cesar Gonçalves de Almeida, Agnaldo Brito Pereira and Marcos Rafael da Silva) uses a combination of brushes, airbrushes and air compression cans to add brilliant hues and shading to the portrait.

Artist Eduardo Kobra standing in front of the Bob Dylan mural

Artist Eduardo Kobra standing in front of the Bob Dylan mural

More Minnesota connections

Minnesota artists Erin Sayer and Yuya Negishi supported Studio Kobra during the two-week artistic process. The multi-national collective used ladders and boom lifts to cover the five-story canvas with the explosions of color and bold lines that signal Kobra’s unmistakable style.

Sayer has painted more than 50 murals around the United States. She currently leads a grassroots effort to create a “mural mecca” along the Minneapolis Greenway. Her gallery space is Premises MPLS.

Negishi teaches about and participates in public art projects and murals throughout his adopted home of Minnesota. Negishi draws inspiration from his memories growing up in a small mountain farming community in the Japanese countryside of Showa Village, Gunma. His work also incorporates Japanese pop culture and calligraphy.