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Painting for the public: Art project takes shape at locations in the region

Hillary Kempenich said moving, sanding and priming an upright piano inside the buildings of Altru Health System caused quite a stir Tuesday morning. As she used a small paintbrush to create bright green leaves on the piano later that afternoon. K...

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Hillary Kempenich paints a piano at the Altru Health System Rehabilitation Center for a public art project. She wants to incorporate birds, bright colors and bicycles into her design, titled "Fluidity." Grand Forks Herald photo by Anna Burleson.

Hillary Kempenich said moving, sanding and priming an upright piano inside the buildings of Altru Health System caused quite a stir Tuesday morning.

As she used a small paintbrush to create bright green leaves on the piano later that afternoon. Kempenich said she's excited to be a part of Project 88, a public art initiative.

"I know public art projects can be hard, but people don't normally think of this space as public, so it's different," she said.

Kempenich's design was inspired by her daughters, aged 8 and 11, and will feature brightly colored birds, foliage and bicycles. She applied online to be a Project 88 artist.

Kempenich said she doesn't know how long it will take her to finish the piece, which for now is on the second floor lounge of the Altru Rehabilitation Center.

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Project 88 is a coordinated effort between the Grand Forks Public Arts Commission, North Valley Arts Council, UND Student Group Project 88 and the Community Foundation of Grand Forks, East Grand Forks and Region.

In East Grand Forks, Mary Ann Austin's Project 88 piano titled "A Secret Place," which features birch trees and flowers, sits outside Mama Maria's restaurant in the River Cinema Mall.

Artist Lillian Stegman will begin painting her Project 88 piano in the Grand Cities Mall later this week.

The pianos are the second large PAC project this year, according to Herald archives. The first was "Ghosts," farm equipment that was painted white and installed in January in a field along South 42nd Street in Grand Forks.

Kempenich said the piano she's working on is fully functional, and she hopes her daughters will join her as she works on the piece.

Related Topics: ART
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