Street Legal: Street Art In Downtown Fargo And Beyond

FARGO- A shiny dumpster sits in the ballroom at the Sons of Norway. Members of the Nordland Rosemaling Association are planning the intricate folk designs that will be painted on its surface.

The dumpster, which belongs to the F-M Visitors Center, is part of a fresh movement to showcase street art in Fargo.

Legal street art walls have been designated recently as part of an ongoing project to bring color to spaces in Fargo.

Street art is accessible, and can be enjoyed without paying to enter a gallery.

It can be exciting to discover art in an unexpected place, says North Dakota State University alumnus Tristan Pollock. “Colorful cities provide a platform for more people to get inspired by art,” he says.

Pollock installed a mural in Roberts Street Alley behind Fargo Linoleum Company. He encourages people to take a second glance through mural art that adds color to cityscapes.

“Cities can be uninspiring. They are often gray and beige from the buildings to the sidewalks,” he says.


Authorized spaces for street art, including on The Forum building in the alley off First Avenue North between Fourth and Fifth streets, are indicated with legal art wall labels. Sometimes called “permission walls” in the aerosol art world, these spaces shed the stereotypes of the label “graffiti.”


The street art walls are ever transforming, encouraging artists to practice their craft while being respectful of others’ artwork.

Joe Burgum of Folkways, a group that supports culture creators, would like to see more places for artists to work downtown.

“Like any craft, they need practice, and it’s hard to practice street art,” he says.

Folkways is building an artist and business database, and matches sponsors to ideal locations. “We see the garage doors and cinder block walls as potential; they can be more with just paint,” he says.


Businesses can celebrate local artists and add a vibrant dynamic to downtown, says Jon Wanzek, owner of the Meadowlark building at 503 7th St. N., where artist Steve Knutson installed a mural.

“I have received lots of positive feedback and compliments on the artwork, people are appreciative. Hopefully we will see more art like it,” Wanzek says.

A resurgence of street art in downtown was first seen two years ago when artists were commissioned to paint dumpsters near Roberts Street Alley.

“We wanted to bring some of the uniqueness of downtown Fargo to our facility,” says Nicole Holden, marketing director at the Fargo-Moorhead Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

The Rosemaling Association will begin painting on the Visitors Center’s dumpster this week. “We’re pretty excited to start the painting,” says rosemaling artist Patty Hagen.


Featuring the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau slogan “North Of Normal” in Norwegian, the dumpster will remain functional at the Visitors Center, 2001 44th St. S., Fargo.

The dumpster will join other visitor attractions there—the Walk of Fame and the wood chipper from the Coen brothers’ movie “Fargo”—this fall. Holden encourages people to snap a selfie with the art and use the hashtag #NorskeOfNormal.

The theme, a play on North of Normal, will make its way back downtown with a mural to be installed later this year.


Those interested in street art as a medium can attend a street art event Sept. 17 in Island Park. Folkways will wind plastic wrap between trees to create temporary walls for art making. Additional details about the event were not available, but will be released by Folkways (www.folkways.co).

by MeLissa Kossick/ The Arts Partnership

This article is part of a content partnership with The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and originally appeared in the Monday, August 31, 2015, issue of the paper.

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