Public Art Commission’s efforts continue for 42nd Street arts corridor, other projects in Grand Forks
The 42nd Street arts corridor came to fruition around 2013, when a group of Grand Forks residents discussed turning the thoroughfare into a destination spot.
GRAND FORKS – Nearly 10 years after initial plans for an arts corridor were first discussed publicly, the Public Arts Commission continues its work in Grand Forks, all with the purpose of bringing more public art into the city.
That includes the long-discussed Arts Corridor on 42nd Street, which began as an idea more than a decade ago.
Curt Kreun, interim chairman of the PAC Board and a member of the North Dakota Senate, said 42nd Street was chosen for the corridor because of its proximity to exits along Interstate 29 and since it’s already a destination street because of many events held at the Alerus Center, which hosts dozens of concerts and large events each year .Also, a number of hotels are located on the street and UND is nearby.
“It’s a major corridor to bring people into Grand Forks,” Kreun said.
A recent notable addition to the arts corridor is the “Northern Rose” granite sculpture, which reflects the state flower, the prairie rose. Zoran Mojsilov, a sculptor and Serbian immigrant who lives in Minneapolis, was commissioned by the PAC to create the sculpture.
The “Northern Rose” is placed at the corner of a parking lot the city leases to the CanadInn. Work was done in 2020 to prepare the site and install the sculpture.
The city provided funding for the sculpture using the public art set-aside of the city’s beautification fund. Around $25,000 was provided for engineering and about $48,000 was provided for installation of the concrete base for the sculpture and lighting, according to Meredith Richards, the city's director of community development. Additional funding for the sculpture came from anonymous donors.
Landscaping improvements – including walkways, handicap accessibility and benches – were added around the “Northern Rose” this past summer.
Kreun said the “Northern Rose” was a big project for PAC, especially considering pandemic-related setbacks.
“To accommodate all that and get that accomplished was probably a little longer than we anticipated,” he said. “Of course we, like everybody else, had COVID come in and things weren't going as fast as it could, either.”
According to past reporting from the Herald, the proposal for the Arts Corridor got its start in 2013 , when a group of Grand Forks-area residents met at a restaurant in the Alerus Center to discuss the idea of turning 42nd Street into a destination corridor. It came after a communitywide project — called North Valley/New Vision 360 — determined that many residents wanted more arts and entertainment options in Grand Forks.
The idea was to create some 50 locations along 42nd and commission artists to create sculptures.
Kreun said the number of art installations to be added along 42nd Street and when they're added depends on funding. In addition to the funding the city has provided for the "Northern Rose," another entity helping with funding is the Community Foundation, which has the Public Arts Commission Endowment.
In an email, Becca Baumbach, executive director of the Community Foundation, said that every year PAC has the ability to receive funding from the endowment's distribution to use for the various operations and projects upon which the commission is working.
Kreun said additional work is being done along the street to look at rights of way, power and irrigation, all of which are important factors when deciding where art can be placed.
He said “42nd is a little bit more difficult than it appears to be. Our goal was to utilize 42nd for quite a ways, but when you start looking at rights of way, when you start looking at power, where that comes from and who’s paying for that, we’re still working on that. We will accomplish that, but that takes a lot of time.”
Some other factors that have had to be folded into the plans for the arts corridor is the planned DeMers Avenue/42nd Street railroad underpass. Art was once planned to be placed on city-owned land at the intersection of 42nd Street and DeMers Avenue by the railroad tracks, but Kreun said that spot now can't be used due to the underpass.
The 42nd Street arts corridor is just one of the many projects currently being undertaken by the commission. Other projects include recently reconstructing and placing the arbor tree sculpture in University Park; holding the Mayor’s Choice Artist Award reception, which is going to be held next month; and hosting ArtFest, one of PAC’s biggest fundraisers, every summer with the 2023 ArtFest set for June 10, and 11.
Additionally, PAC also is working on a public arts registry, which will pinpoint all the names, artists and locations of public art in the city.
PAC was formed in 2014 with the mission of adding more public art to the city. In the nearly 10 years the commission has existed, PAC has been involved in numerous projects throughout Grand Forks, with artwork being showcased in galleries at the Alerus Center and the Altru Professional Center.
Kreun notes that members of the commission are volunteers working to accomplish the various projects when they can – including the arts corridor.
“One thing you kind of have to remember through this whole thing is this whole group is a volunteer group,” he said. “It takes a little while sometimes to get through all the idiosyncrasies of what has to be done.”