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Marcil family donates to first 42nd Street sculpture

William Marcil

 A $300,000 donation from Forum Communications Co. Chairman William C. Marcil and his family is the first major contribution to the 42nd Street Arts Corridor project in Grand Forks.

The Community Foundation announced the William and Jane Marcil Family Foundation’s gift on Thursday.

A $250,000 portion of the donation will go toward 42nd Street’s first sculpture, which project organizers say is the first of more than 50 sculptures they hope to have lining the corridor. The remaining $50,000 will go toward a public art endowment fund to maintain public art.

“Marcil’s investment will bring life to the 42nd Street vision and inspire the community,” said Kristi Mishler, executive director of the Community Foundation. “Long-term, it will be a catalyst that creates a vibrant place.”

The idea for 42nd Street South is to have about 50 large public art sculptures along the corridor to help make the area “a destination” for community members and visitors, Mishler said.

“Grand Forks has got a lot of things going for it, and it seems to me that this 42nd Street could become a destination,” Marcil said. “We think it’s a good investment in the future of the community.”

Marcil added that the 42nd Street project seems to have a lot of support from community members, and he hopes the combination of the 42nd Street Arts Corridor and recent efforts to revitalize downtown Grand Forks can both spark positive growth for the city.

Having owned WDAZ-TV in Grand Forks since the 1960s, Marcil said his family has a strong interest in the city. Forum Communications also owns the Herald.

Another recent major investment the Marcils, who live in Fargo, have made in Grand Forks was a $1 million gift to UND for the President’s House, Marcil said.

Public art

As the first major donors to the project, the Marcil family will have a significant say in the first sculpture on 42nd Street, Mishler said.

Grand Forks’ newly formed Public Arts Commission will research ideas and options for the sculpture, she said.

The PAC, which is in the process of becoming a private nonprofit, will work with city officials and other local leaders to spearhead public art projects throughout the city, but 42nd Street is its first project.

Laurel Reuter, director of the North Dakota Museum of Art, is chairwoman of the PAC, and said it is important that the first 42nd Street sculpture “be a landmark for Grand Forks.”

Both Reuter and Mishler emphasized the importance of the first donation and the first sculpture in jump-starting the whole project.

“The first one has to really be a statement of what the 42nd Street sculptures will be,” Reuter said.

The PAC will seek regional, national and international artists for 42nd Street, Reuter said. Priorities in selecting the sculptures include making sure they fit well with the surroundings, are appealing to the community and are able to withstand weather.

Reuter also said the PAC will be pursuing contemporary art, not, for example, traditional bronze statues. “I look at this as an opportunity to bring a great contemporary work to the community,” she said.

Marcil said he and his family have not discussed details on what they would like the sculpture to look like yet. “We thought it was important to make the commitment first,” he said.

He expects more details to be available before September, he said.

The tentative location of the first 42nd Street sculpture is in front of the Alerus Center.

Cheryl Swanson, executive director of the Alerus Center, said the facility is supportive of the arts corridor, but would review any sculpture proposals before officially agreeing to have a sculpture on Alerus Center land.

Both Reuter and Mishler said there is still a lot of work to do on the 42nd Street Arts Corridor, including a pending memorandum of understanding on the project between the PAC and the city of Grand Forks.

But both also reiterated their excitement about the project’s first donation from the Marcil family.

“It’s a great gift for the community,” Mishler said.

Public Arts Commission

The Public Arts Commission is a private nonprofit being formed in Grand Forks to spearhead public arts projects, including the 42nd Street Arts Corridor.

Members of the newly formed PAC are:

  • Laurel Reuter, commission chairwoman

North Dakota Museum of Art

  • Ann Brown, vice chairwoman

Community member

  • Barry Wilfahrt, secretary/treasurer

Chamber of Commerce

  • Paul Barta

Grand Forks Park District

  • Bruce Gjovig

Center for Innovation

  • Curt Kreun

Community Foundation Board of Directors

  • Mike Kuntz

Icon Architectural Group

  • Marie Strinden

North Valley Arts Council

  • Tom Di’Lorenzo


  • Brad Gengler, ex-officio member

City planner

  • Kristi Mishler, ex-officio member

Community Foundation

Charly Haley
Charly Haley covers city government for the Grand Forks Herald. As night reporter, she also has many general assignments. Before working at the Herald, she was a reporter at the Jamestown Sun and interned at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, Detroit Lakes Newspapers and the St. Cloud Times. Haley is a graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead, and her hometown is Sartell, Minn.
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