Public Art group pitches 150-ton rock sculpture by Alerus Center in Grand Forks

A smaller model of the Northern Rose sculpture concept, courtesy of artist Zoran Mojsilov

Members of the Grand Forks Public Arts Commission plan to bring a 150-ton rock sculpture called the “Northern Rose” to the city by September.

PAC, formed in 2014 “to provide more aesthetic and beauty” according to member Bruce Gjovig, said the art itself will be completely funded by two anonymous donations and a third gift of roughly $25,000 from The Art of Giving.

The city, however, will have to pay for a sturdy foundation for the project. Shawn Gaddie, of AE2S, which is working on planning the project so it doesn't interfere with existing utility lines, estimated total infrastructure could cost the city approximately $50,000. City Administrator Todd Feland said City Council members likely will vote on that expense in June.

“The total dimensions are roughly 20 feet high (and a) roughly 18-foot by 18-foot base diameter,” Gaddie said. “We’re not talking about something small.”

PAC plans to place the sculpture on South 42nd Street near the Alerus Center and CanadInn, two organizations that PAC members on Monday said already have expressed support for the project.


Feland estimates the city has saved up to about $112,500 for public art, raised over three years via certain sales tax collections.

The project artist, Zoran Mojsilov of Minneapolis, is currently selecting rocks for the project from a quarry in St. Cloud, Minn., where the art will be constructed.

“(The) rocks individually are quite large,” Gaddie said. “Overall, you’ve got a roughly 6-foot by 20-foot scale of each stone itself.”

Gaddie said the city should plan to prepare the South 42nd Street site and foundation by July. In September, Gaddie and PAC members hope to have the Northern Rose sculpture transported to Grand Forks.

Mojsilov has designed several pieces of public art throughout the region, including a piece at the sculpture garden in Mayville.

According to a description of the sculpture that Grand Forks Mayor Mike Brown read Monday night, the Northern Rose represents “the frontier spirit” of immigrants who settled in North Dakota during the 19th century, surviving loneliness, desolation and brutal winters to create a better future for themselves and their children.

PAC is still raising funds for a second sculpture near the Alerus Center called “Confluence,” designed by a California artist the city selected in 2017.

Four years ago, Bill Marcil -- whose family owns Forum Communications Co., parent company to the Herald -- pledged to donate about $50,000 toward public art every year for six years. Gjovig said it’s those dollars that will fund the construction of Confluence.


In March, PAC opened a gallery at Altru South. PAC will open a second gallery and long-term exhibition at the Alerus Center later this month. Both exhibits feature art from the collection of Gjovig.

The Alerus Center exhibit will open with a 5:30 p.m. May 23.

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