The ants are gone. The painted goddess images have been freshened up. And Thursday night, to the accompaniment of a pianist and a belly dancer, Hend Al-Mansour’s “Goddess Tree” was installed in a gallery in St. Paul’s Merriam Park neighborhood.
Art-saving mission accomplished.
Al-Mansour said she never considered the work, painted with acrylic and house paint on a tree stump in front of her home, among her best. Her paintings and screen printings exploring themes of Arab female equality have been exhibited in galleries from the Middle East to the United States.
But this tree, actually a 9-foot-tall stump of an old elm, had become a point of interest and pride in her neighborhood. So when an infestation of carpenter ants prompted the city to cut it down, neighbors sprang to action to save it from the wood chipper.
Enter Webb White, owner of the nearby Whimsical Alternative Coalition Political Awareness Consortium (WACPAC), a sometimes art gallery, sometimes chess club meeting place. White, other neighbors and neighborhood organizers worked to have the stump fumigated and restored.
Now, it and other works by Al-Mansour will be on display in the consortium’s Snelling Avenue storefront — with just a tiny bit of fanfare, music and even cheese trays.
“It’s exciting,” White said.