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Editor’s Choice: Art on the Land

The arts are getting an emphasis in Fargo these days. Just last week, Fargo’s city commission voted to establish an Arts and Culture Commission to emphasize public art in the city. This is a major move for Fargo, and the first commission of its kind in North Dakota. With public art up the road (in architecture, on buses and buildings), it’s a good time to look at what Fargo (and North Dakota for that matter) already have for art on the land. You’ll find yourself on the road for these artful places, and although this month’s proving to be pretty cold already, this could be your last chance in a long time to get out and see Fargo and North Dakota’s present public art.

Thursday: Herd About the Prairie
This is an easy adventure for anyone and one that’s great for anyone unfamiliar with Fargo-Moorhead. Almost a decade ago, over 50 blank bison statues were distributed to area artists to decorate and design, then positioned around F-M for a summer scavenger hunt, “Herd About the Prairie.” A later auction reduced the herd to a couple dozen, and these are still found all over the F-M area, such as outside Wimmer’s Jewelry in downtown Fargo, outside Moorhead’s Rourke Art Museum and the Red River Zoo. What better a way to acquaint yourself with the area than seeking out some public art in a scavenger hunt?

Friday: Interstate 94 statues
Go West, young man, and seek out the “world’s largest” animal statues along I-94. In Jamestown, Steele and New Salem, you can drive right up to the world’s largest buffalo, sandhill crane and cow, all of which are prime photo ops and great drive-by sights to see. Sure, North Dakota doesn’t have as many big animal statues as Minnesota (a state about as proud of its birds as its lakes), but I-94 easily offers a quaint little driving tour of public art on the land. Simply head west on the interstate, and keep an eye out for Exits 258, 200 and 127. Don’t forget to bring a camera!

Saturday: Enchanted Highway
Keep the art on the land rolling with a turn down Exit 72 on I-94 for the Enchanted Highway. Seven of the world’s largest metal sculptures comprise this magic piece of highway, from a landscape of fish in a marine scene to Teddy Roosevelt riding again to a tin family. Constructed from scrap metal, oil drums and pipes, the Enchanted Highway is the product of Regent, N.D., resident Gary Greff, who built his brainchild between 1990 and 2006 to reinvigorate his hometown. Spend the night at the Crocus Inn or Enchanted Castle, then turn around and head back to Fargo. Sure, the weather will be cold (forecasted in the 20s at this writing), but this could be your last chance for a NoDak road trip without too much snow in the picture.

Sunday: Fargo’s visual art scene
On Sunday, I advise you to step out onto Fargo’s visual art scene to see what and who is currently artful in Fargo. The Plains Art Museum offers free admission for students with an ID and is open from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Ten exhibitions are currently running in the museum’s galleries, from the tri-college faculty “Art Boom” showing to the two-artist show “VIVID” to a North Dakota mural. Take a walk downtown as well and check out ecce gallery’s “Newvember” exhibit (open noon to 6 p.m.) and any other art outlets that may open their doors this day. Seeing what artists and visual art is already exhibited can give an insight to the arts scene that will soon welcome public art to the City of Fargo.

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