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Spangler Finds Home in Downtown’s Loretta Building

As the Fargo-Moorhead community progresses further in its participation in contemporary visual arts, large-scale acquisitions such as those done by Kilbourne Group push this mission forward.

Aaron Spangler’s “Boreal Sky” was recently installed between the third and fourth floors of the downtown space and serves as a capstone piece to the collection. It currently stands as one of the largest art acquisitions in the state of North Dakota, in terms of both size and cost. Working for nearly two years in conjunction with Mark Weiler of ecce gallery, the piece represents the specific goals Doug Burgum and the rest of the Kilbourne team has in place.

“(We) wanted something special to tie in with the history of the space as well as the history of the area,” Weiler said. “This piece really … qualified for that in many ways.”

The building’s collection started with artwork from the Burgum family compilation, then once new acquisitions were made, a heavy Midwestern and specifically North Dakota focus was put on artist selection.

Spangler possesses local roots and received his BFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Additionally, the piece itself satisfies a variety of the intensions set by Kilbourne Group for the space.

The masterwork hangs at a looming 12-by-12 in size. It is constructed with luan plywood solidified on a steel panel. The visual effects are produced from shards of basswood covered in gesso and graphite. Although Spangler’s forms and concepts fluctuate, the materiality remains the trademark of his practice.

“Boreal Sky” makes an immediate connection to its new home through its surface appearance and the building’s history. In the last century, the Loretta Building has endured numerous fires. When renovating the structure, the decision was made to preserve the charred brickwork. With the artwork’s dark, heavy surface, a somewhat mirrored reference is created. Synchronous with Kilbourne’s mission, it is a celebration of the past with hope for the future.

Spangler practices in the U.S., but the specific acquired piece was purchased from the Michael Janssen Galerie in Berlin. After a few months of international agreements, shipping and installation, “Boreal Sky” is finally here to stay.

An acquisition of this level is a monumental gesture on many levels. Besides being one of the largest visual art acquisitions in North Dakota, it is also the only Aaron Spangler piece to be purchased by a private collector in the state. Kilbourne Group sent a message regarding their support of the local art market through this purchase.

“To bring a blue chip piece into the space speaks to the level of commitment from the Kilbourne Group,” Weiler said.

Not only is the business supporting local artists, gallerists and curators, but purchasing work in a price range that could sustain a lifestyle for its maker. Setting a standard for paying their artists is another lesson to be taken from the Loretta crew. Hanging work in a business space to gain the artist “exposure” will hopefully begin to be a notion of the past.

“Boreal Sky” is considered the capstone of the Loretta Building collection. However, one can expect Burgum and the rest of the Kilbourne team to continue making a difference in the art and business market, within their building and beyond.

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