'North Dakota Mural' comes home
FARGO -- The homecoming was postponed, but the show went on. Grand Forks native James Rosenquist wasn't on hand at the Plains Art Museum on Thursday morning for the unveiling of his $1.2 million "The North Dakota Mural," but the work spoke for it...
FARGO -- The homecoming was postponed, but the show went on.
Grand Forks native James Rosenquist wasn't on hand at the Plains Art Museum on Thursday morning for the unveiling of his $1.2 million "The North Dakota Mural," but the work spoke for itself.
The crowd of about 350 people clapped when curtains were pulled aside, revealing a 13-by-24-foot painting of iconic images of the state; like a meadowlark, teepee poles and shafts of wheat against a starry sky.
The 76-year-old painter planned to attend, but was told not to travel by his doctor after contracting a combination of pneumonia and influenza. The acclaimed pop artist splits his time between New York City and Aripeka, Fla.
Rosenquist and the Plains rescheduled a reception for 7 p.m. on Oct. 20, but the party started without him.
Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker read a proclamation declaring Thursday James Rosenquist Day.
Describing how the first version of this mural burned in a fire that destroyed Rosenquist's Florida studio and home, and how an anonymous donor stepped up with $600,000 for the oil painting (the artist matched the remainder), Plains Art Director/CEO Colleen Sheehy referred to the installation of the mural as a "miracle" five times in her introduction.
After the painting was unveiled, the North Dakota State University Gold Star Marching Band launched into "On Bison." Guests were invited to stay for a free lunch of sloppy joes.
"He would've liked this," Star Wallowing Bull said of Rosenquist. "He's a people person. He loves to talk to people."
The elder painter has offered instruction and guidance to Wallowing Bull for the past five years, and the two have become friends.
John Bennett grew up in Minneapolis with Rosenquist, the artist acting like an older brother. Bennett, the former president of the Plains board of directors, said the mural was always on Rosenquist's mind.
"There is a lot of meaning to every one of his paintings," he said, adding that the artist will talk about the work at the Oct. 20 reception.
"I thought it is an accurate representation of North Dakota," said Shannan Gorden, a West Fargo High School senior. "I loved how he filled the sky above with stars, because that's usually what you see in North Dakota."
The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and the Herald are Forum Communications Co. newspapers.