The Story

Cotty Lowry and his billboard

Much of life is spent either hitting or getting beaned by curve balls.

Over two decades ago a billboard space on Hennepin and Franklin came available. It was a great location: great visibility, at a stop light, in the right neighborhood. What an opportunity to promote an image.

A standard Cotty Lowry Realtor billboard went up and within three weeks it was covered in graffiti (exhibit A). What an inconvenience. A new billboard was put up over the top, and again within a week it was vandalized. As this continued on for few more cycles, a pattern emerged – a personality if you will.

The applied art, while always mocking and occasionally profane, seemed to ooze a certain sensitivity. Did these vandals have something real to say? Was this their way of crying out to the masses that traveled south on Hennepin avenue? When is a banana more than just a banana?

When you can’t beat them, at least take a swing . . .
The mod squad was at it from 1994 up to 2020 when the new building owners decided to remove the billboard. Collaborations with MCAD, local artists (both invited and not) have made the crowdsourced billboards on Hennepin internationally recognized and always remembered.

Evidence: while traveling in Sweden, Cotty Lowry struck up a conversation with a fellow tourist in the Ice Hotel north of the Arctic Circle. They had spotted Cotty from across the room and recognized him from his billboards on the side of Burch Pharmacy.

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The Lineup

Exhibit A: The Banana

Exhibit B: Just Trying

Exhibit C: The Devil

Exhibit D: Man with Hat

Exhibit E: Happy New Year

The Reports

The Gallery