Melanie Stimmel's incredible street art paintings have all of the depth and craft of a renaissance masterpiece. Her latest creation -- a collaboration with McDonald's #McDRaffleSweeps campaign -- just debuted at Target Plaza on the sidewalk outside Target Field.
This enormous quarter-pound burger will be on the pavement until the conclusion of the Twins' home series against Kansas City on May 25.
You might be surprised to know the decorated artist actually has a background in one of TV's most infamous animated shows.
"Basically, my entire career has been a series of happy accidents," Stimmel joked over the phone. "Right after college, I was doing freelance illustration when a friend called and said that a show called 'South Park' that was hiring."
Stimmel ended up landing a gig working as the lead technical director of "Bigger, Longer & Uncut," the "South Park" feature film, and sticking with the show for the better part of eight years. During production on the movie, Melanie got another fateful call, this time from a street painting festival in Florida.
"While I was on the movie, I got a call from a street painting festival, another thing I had never heard of, so I said 'sure'," Stimmel laughs, "It was a free trip to Florida!"
Street painting's lively, public nature was a perfect fit for Stimmel's outgoing personality off the bat, and the centuries-old tradition also appealed to her roots as a classically-trained painter. The art form dates back to the madonnari of the Italian renaissance, skilled painters who specialized in life-sized portraits of the Madonna and child.
These days, street painting has taken on new life as 3D street art has exploded in popularity. We Talk Chalk, the company Stimmel founded with her husband in 2012, has embraced the style with open arms.
"It’s upping the ante in terms of the interaction that you’re having with the public," Stimmel says. "Not only are they asking you questions about the artwork, but now they can step into the artwork. They can have fun with it, play with it, take photos with it. That makes it so much more exciting for the artists, and also for the viewer."
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She was thrilled to work on a well-known landmark like Target Field, and plans to check out some of the Twin Cities' art scene while she's here.
"I read all the time about how the art scene here is fantastic, so it’s really nice that I have the opportunity to see it now," Stimmel says.
In honor of her subject for this piece, we had one final question for the madonnara: "What's your go-to McDonalds order?"
"Well, at least twice a week, we have to get a Happy Meal for my son," Stimmel said with a laugh. "He likes the 6-piece chicken nuggets with french fries!"