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Presenters vie for grant funding for temporary public art projects in Grand Forks

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Jared Fladeland pitches his idea for five pop-up statues around town that would pair five visual artists with five performance arts to create living work downtown. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald2 / 3
Mary Loyland and Don Berntsen make a pitch for the Grand Forks Symphony to the Community Foundation's "Forkin It Over" Micro-Grant Presentations Monday as Nathan Reese, left, and Joan Johnson react. The event, at the Empire Arts Center in downtown Grand Forks also included the presentation of Arts and Culture Master Plan by Forcast Public Art and a public art update. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald3 / 3

From puppets to dancers, nearly 30 presenters tried Monday to convince a panel of judges to pick their temporary public art project to be the recipient of grant money in Grand Forks.

Each presenter had one minute on the Empire Arts Center stage to pitch ideas, ranging from sculptures to live performances to murals. The pitches were part of the Forkin' It Over event organized by the Community Foundation of Grand Forks, East Grand Forks & Region.

At the end of the night, $35,000 in grant funding was divided among the winners, covering a small portion of the $120,000 in requests submitted by presenters.

A proposal submitted by artist Guillermo Guardia snagged the top grant amount at $8,000 for a project he called "Crossing the Border." Guardia has plans to create hundreds of ceramic figures that would be placed on the Sorlie Bridge and the banks of the Red River.

"It's about immigration," he said. "I want to make hundreds, hundreds of little figurines and I want to place them downtown on the bridge. ... It connects two cities. It also connects two states."

Other public art proposed would be functional, with one project aiming to construct a warming house out of a metal culvert, covering it with snow and placing it along the Greenway.

"We call it 'grand fort,'" said Corey Mock, executive director of the Greater Grand Forks Young Professionals. The warming hut project received $4,500.

Live performances were pitched by several presenters and included dancers armed with paint performing on a canvas, traveling puppet shows and living statues or works of art performing poetry and monologues.

Some wanted to take art to the street through a variety of displays with the cooperation of local businesses and property owners.

The Forkin' It Over event followed the unveiling Monday of Grand Forks' public art master plan, which has been in the works for months.

The plan focuses on developing public art in key areas around the city, including South 42nd Street and downtown—locations mentioned repeatedly in Forkin' It Over pitches.

The projects receiving grants were:

• Guillermo Guardia, ceramic figures on Sorlie Bridge and river banks, $8,000.

• Kevin Thompson, large fiberglass human figures scaling downtown buildings, $5,400.

• Adam Kemp, metal sculpture in downtown park, $4,700.

• Greater Grand Forks Young Professionals, warming house created from culvert on Greenway, $4,500.

• Kathy Coudle King, traveling puppet wagon, $3,900.

• North Dakota Museum of Art, kids summer sculpture camp, $2,500.

• Artwise, pop bottle flowers on South 42nd Street, $2,000.

• The Art of Giving, sculpture wall, $2,500.

• North Dakota Ballet Company, dancers performing on canvas, $2,000.

• Spirit Star, Belle Arte Poetica event, $1,000.

• Greater Grand Forks Symphony Orchestra, dancing mimes, $500

Brandi Jewett

Brandi Jewett is a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald with beats focusing on northwest Minnesota, unmanned aircraft systems and East Grand Forks city government. A native of Valley City, N.D., 26 years worth of winters haven't scared her out of the state yet. Follow her work at, on her blog at and on Twitter and Instagram: @brandijewett. Send tips and story ideas to 

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