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Turn the art around: Vinyl Taco silent auction spins with records turned into artistic canvases

Since Vinyl Taco opened in 2013, the local restaurant in downtown Fargo has had wall-to-wall, music-themed art that creates a fun atmosphere for customers to enjoy tasty Mexican food while vinyl records play in the background.

But now, the ceiling of Vinyl Taco has some art hanging from it, too.

This is part of the Vinyl Record Art Silent Auction that features local art made from — you guessed it — vinyl records. The auction takes place during regular restaurant hours until Aug. 28 to raise money for the Fargo-Moorhead arts community.

Vinyl Taco is located at 520 1st Ave. N. in downtown Fargo.

But the pieces aren’t made from just any old records. Before issuing a call for artists earlier this summer, Vinyl Taco owner Warren Ackley went to Orange Records and searched through a bin of scratched records to find 40 albums from the 1970s — the same decade of tunes played at the restaurant.

“Some (records) were obscure, some were mainstream, but they were all from the ’70s era,” Ackley says.

Ackley has been in the Fargo restaurant and bar business for more than 40 years. He and his business partners, Randy and Lance Thorson, opened Vinyl Taco, which totes the slogan “tuned in music, turned on tacos,” to offer a new take on traditional Mexican cuisine while incorporating their love for 1970s vinyl.

The Vinyl Taco Record Art auction features 32 pieces of local art that are up for bid until August 28.

Ackley has been active in the local arts scene in the past, but was inspired to get back in the groove through the Vinyl Record Art project after seeing the impact of similar art auctions by other businesses in the area.

“(Our community) always thinks of football and athletics and sometimes the art scene gets overlooked, so we’re going to bring that back a bit,” Ackley says.

Vinyl Taco worked with The Arts Partnership to find the eclectic group of local artists with work up for bid.

The project offered a refreshing challenge for all artists involved, including custom clothing creator Cynthia McGuire Thiel. Thiel, who has been sewing most of her life, had ideas about covering the record with quilting or applique. But instead, she got out her drill press and started punching holes in the disc.

“I came to the decision that embroidering the grooves would be a good way to highlight my abilities and the medium (without covering the record),” Thiel says.

Along with colorful embroidered patterns, Thiel used labels from vintage sewing supplies to cover the artist’s label while keeping the round shape to mimic it. Her piece, titled “Try It On,” now hangs among 31 other pieces in the restaurant.

The project provided a welcome challenge for all artists involved, including custom clothing creator Cynthia McGuire Thiel. Thiel used her sewing background to create an embroidered record (center).

“I would absolutely do (this project) again,” Thiel says. “It was fun and I learned a lot.”

Ackley hopes his customers have fun with the auction, too, by rounding up their friends to enjoy some tacos while supporting local artists. If it’s successful, Ackley wants to make the auction even bigger next year.

“This is something that’s good for our name and good for our community,” he says.

The restaurant is hosting a closing bid party the night of Aug. 28 until 10 p.m. Half of the proceeds will go to the artist, and the other half to The Arts Partnership’s Individual Artist Grant Program.

Customers who want to place bids on their favorite piece can talk to a member of the Vinyl Taco staff during regular business hours. Bids for each piece increase in increments of $10, with a buyout price of $350.

Vinyl Taco is located at 520 First Ave. N. in downtown Fargo and is open 11 a.m. to midnight Monday through Saturday. For more information, visit www.vinyltacofargo.com.

This article is part of a content partnership with the Fargo Forum and originally appeared in print on Monday, August 6, 2018.



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