“A project like this isn’t going to look perfect, but then again, if it was, it wouldn’t be as successful,” Cimino said. “To make this happen, I have to forgo my idea of what it ought to be, my vision of perfection and success, and hand it over to others. It wasn’t intended to be the most aesthetically perfect mural, but a reflection of the community.”
He typically partners with small businesses when doing a mural to help with outreach, permissions, and promotions. When Ek reached out to Cimino about the idea, he was excited to work with them. Partnering with a paint shop on a mural provided particular benefits: “They provided the permissions, the wall, the drop cloths, the paint. They really added some legitimacy to the project.” They named the project “All for One” to reflect the community focus and the aspiration of bringing people together to make something that would inspire pride. The project is supported by the Preservation Alliance’s Artists on Main Street initiative, in partnership with Springboard for the Arts and Mankato’s City Center Partnership, and supported by the Bush Foundation.
Bellissimo and Cimino set up a Facebook event, spread the word, and put up fliers. But the storms complicated their scheduling. At first, they reluctantly announced that they would be canceling the session on Saturday, focusing on Sunday instead. When the storms unexpectedly veered away from Mankato, Cimino and company abruptly announced that Saturday was back on.
Given the shifting weather and schedule, and that no one had done an event like this before in Mankato, Cimino kept expectations modest. “We expected 40 or 50 people,” he said. “But we got over 400.” There were so many people he had to usher hopeful participants into a line and find space for the growing lines on an increasingly cramped wall.