Defiant Gardens for Fargo-Moorhead

Plains Art Museum

Funding Received: 2013
Fargo, ND
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
December 10, 2013

A bee visits the Pollinator Garden at Plains Art Museum; photo by Cody Jacobson

Though the growing season in Fargo-Moorhead is done for the year, work on the three Defiant Garden projects continues. On all three projects, we continue to meet with project teams, develop plans, and address other needs so outdoor work will be ready to go in May 2014 and landscape infrastructure building can also proceed.

Pollinator Garden

A civil engineer, Kurt Leuthold, and a landscape ecologist, Fred Rozumalski, from Barr Engineering visited Plains Art Museum to examine the Museum’s campus and learn more about the goals of the Pollinator project. They are specialists in water resources and green design, working on many master plans for institutions and in watershed districts. They have collaborated on many projects with Christine Baeumler, the lead artist on Pollinator Garden. They will develop a master plan for the campus for the garden designs and to address storm water run-off.

Buzz Lab, an all-day, weeklong paid internship for 10 teens will be launched this June, with applications accepted from June to April.  The teens will work with artists and teachers to learn and discuss the importance of pollinators and sustainability, create their own works of art, and participate in plantings and art placement for the Pollinator Garden at the Museum. Participants in the Buzz Lab also will commit to two out of three follow-up sessions to observe and monitor the plantings throughout the summer. The Buzz Lab will be led by Twin Cities-based environmental artists Christine Baeumler and Seitu Jones, poet Juliet Patterson, community artist/educator MeLissa Kossick, and 4-H Coordinator Monique Snelgrove. Other teaching artists, ecologists, entomologists, and education staff at Plains Art Museum also will assist in the program.

The Buzz Lab and other workshops combine art and science on garden-related themes to engage a younger audience in this public art initiative. Other workshops include “Honey Happenings,” an event slated for March to promote Buzz Lab and showcase the important work of area honeykeepers and their wares.

Defiant Garden for the Moorhead Power Plant
After meeting with the project team of artists Rob Fischer and Su Legatt and project director Colleen Sheehy, engineers were engaged to do a study of the land where the Defiant Garden will be built. Moorhead Public Service and the City of Moorhead need to know the geologic structure of the land and understand the faults or slumping that could occur in the clay soil and the impact of spring flooding on the soil conditions. This is the next step in getting to an agreement with MPS. Plains Art Museum is also reviewing a draft agreement drawn up by MPS to make sure insurance and responsibilities are consistent with their legal advice.

Su Legatt is starting to plan her community engagement with Moorhead residents and local colleges to involve them in creating the Legacy Garden that will be part of the site. MPS has contracted with a firm that will be dismantling and demolishing the decommissioned Power Plant, and that process will begin in November. Artists Rob Fischer and Kevin Johnson have worked with MPS engineers to identify machine parts and tools inside the plant that will be saved for use in the Defiant Garden.

Recent Wins
Plains Art Museum received notice of a $200,000 grant award that would contribute to the work in these Defiant Garden projects. (We are not free to release details until the foundation makes their official announcement.) Additionally, it will support community work to establish a public art program or commission in Fargo and advance the knowledge about public art practices among local artists, adding to the momentum in creative placemaking in our communities.

Architect Regin Schwaen has designed and received approval for an interdisciplinary architecture studio at North Dakota State University for winter/spring semester 2014. The students will develop detailed designs and blueprints for the Fern Grotto for Fargo, the project led by artist Mark Dion. Dion will come in to work with the class twice during that semester. Colleen Sheehy, artist Michael Strand, and others on the project team will also work with the class.

We are at phases for both the Pollinator Garden and the Moorhead Power Plant project where engineers are now part of the discussion and design team. Working with engineers is making this become more physical and part of the urban fabric, tied to geologic and urban infrastructure systems. It’s exciting and invigorating to see how placemaking projects require so many kinds of expertise to come to fruition, from the artists, educators, and students to the architects, engineers, and city planners. We are visibly experiencing the strengthening of community interconnections.