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Scavenger hunt brings you into artist Adam Turman's mind and stomping grounds

A woman looks at “Kenny,” the howling wolf character designed by Adam Turman, at the entrance to Wolfe Park overlooking Excelsior & Grand in St. Louis Park. Turman created 10 unique characters as part of Artventure for Discover St. Louis Park.
A woman looks at “Kenny,” the howling wolf character designed by Adam Turman, at the entrance to Wolfe Park overlooking Excelsior & Grand in St. Louis Park. Turman created 10 unique characters as part of Artventure for Discover St. Louis Park. Luke Taylor | MPR

by Luke Taylor

August 11, 2022

Two skunks clink glasses on a wine barrel. A filmmaker nestles inside a wood chipper. A wolf howls in an idyllic park. You’ll find these playful scenes, and many others, in western Minneapolis suburbs St. Louis Park and Golden Valley as part of the Adam Turman Artventure scavenger hunt.

As the name describes, the artwork anchoring Artventure is all from the imagination of Minnesota artist Adam Turman. For the project, commissioned by Discover St. Louis Park, Turman created 10 original characters that provide the tour’s landmarks. “I've lived in St. Louis Park for 21 years plus, and then I've had a studio in Golden Valley for six or seven years now,” Turman says. “This is where I'm at, this is my hometown, and this is where I work. And I bike all over the place, too; I commute to work by bike. It all feels like home; I love it.”

Turman is well known for his hyperlocal artwork that celebrates all things Minnesota. His graphic design recalls 20th-century commercial line art but with a bright, fresh and modern — some might even say punk rock — sensibility. Turman’s designs have highlighted Minnesota landmarks and landscapes, as well as its sports teams, regional beers, flour products, folklore, and cuisine (hot dish, anyone?). During the Minnesota State Fair, Turman’s large retail booth is on the second level of the Grandstand, and for The Current, he designed the cover for Live Current Vol. 8.

Live Current Volume 8
Live Current Volume 8
Artwork by Adam Turman

Artventure was conceived as a fun and interactive way for residents and visitors alike to unearth gems in St. Louis Park and Golden Valley, such as the covered, outdoor roller-skating rink by the Recreation Center; the winding pathways of Wolfe Park; or the oldest commercial node in St. Louis Park, which was established at a former streetcar stop along the Lake Street extension.

One of Artventure’s lesser-known locations is an area known as Skunk Hollow. “There's some lore that the two oldest homes in St. Louis Park were home to some skunk families way back when,” Turman explains. “Who knows if this is true or not, but in that area, there is a winery and then at least a couple of distilleries that I know of.” Turman’s Skunk Hollow art features two skunks sitting on a wine barrel, toasting beverages from that area.

Photo of an illustration of two skunks on a wine barrel, clinking glasses
“Johnny & Irene” are a pair of skunks who can be found sampling some libations from St. Louis Park's unofficial distillery district, known as Skunk Hollow. Adam Turman created the characters for Artventure by Discover St. Louis Park.
Luke Taylor | MPR

Turman’s Artventure illustrations resemble the large-scale character cut-outs he puts up in his front yard for neighbors to enjoy every Halloween. “They’re typically licensed property, like the Ghostbusters and Pirates of the Caribbean and Star Wars and stuff like that,” Turman says.

Adam Turman's Bowling Guy illustration
Adam Turman's "Bowling Guy" illustration is inspired by a beloved character created by filmmakers and St. Louis Park natives Joel and Ethan Coen.
Adam Turman/Discover St. Louis Park

With support from Discover St. Louis Park, a convention and visitor bureau for St. Louis Park and Golden Valley, Turman evolved his home concept to Artventure’s series of unique characters representing the local community. “We wanted things that were original art and original ideas that are inspired off of people, places and things that are in those areas. For me in St. Louis Park, I know quite a bit of information about it, and so I can go pretty deep into poking fun and playing with some of the characters and bringing other things to life in those characters.”

For example, some of Turman’s Artventure designs build on ideas created by the Coen Brothers — filmmakers Joel and Ethan, who grew up in St. Louis Park. Others, like the Skunk Hollow illustration, tip their hat to the neighborhood or local landmarks or businesses.

There is a social-media contest that scavengers can participate in, and local businesses may see an increase in custom as a result of Artventure, but the draw for Turman is simply the thrill of people interacting with his artwork. “I just really like to make people happy with the work,” he says. “I like people to engage with it, and that is just fun. That, to me, has always been one of those things that drives me to keep on doing what I do, and therefore loving it.”

A man in a T-shirt poses for a portrait
Artist Adam Turman
Twin Birch Studios

The Adam Turman Artventure continues through Monday, Sept. 6. Participation is free.

Adam Turman Artventure – map of all character locations

Clean Water Land & Legacy Amendment
This activity is made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment’s Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.