Defiant Gardens for Fargo-Moorhead

Plains Art Museum

Funding Received: 2013
Fargo, ND
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
January 7, 2014

The preliminary plan for the Museum’s Pollinator Garden from Barr Engineering

Pollinator Garden

Kurt Leuthold, civil engineer and vice president, and ecologist, horticulturalist and landscape architect Fred Rozumalski from Minneapolis-based Barr Engineering, are working with Plains Art Museum staff and other community partners on a master plan for the Pollinator Garden on the Museum’s campus. Their firm specializes in knowledge of water resources and engineering systems, and Kurt and Fred have collaborated with artist Christine Baeumler on other environmental art projects. They met with museum staff and other partners during a day and a half of planning meetings in late November to discuss and gather input for the master plan.  They also met with two City of Fargo staff from the Public Works Department and learned about how the Pollinator Garden features would intersect with other infrastructure improvements planned for our neighborhood of downtown Fargo. Kurt and Fred drew up a preliminary idea for the master plan and presented it to a staff team for feedback. They are now in process of fine-tuning the master plan for the garden designs and other features that will address storm water run-off from the parking lots and sidewalks surrounding the museum.

We began promotion of Buzz Lab and Pollinator Garden-related workshops this month through our member newsletter and on our website. Buzz Lab is an all-day, weeklong paid internship for 12 teens, which will be held this June, with applications accepted from January 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.

Fern Grotto
Architect and associate professor Regin Schwaen is launching an interdisciplinary architecture studio at North Dakota State University in January 2014 that will focus on the Fern Grotto for Fargo project. Over the course semester, his students will develop detailed designs and blueprints and get the chance to interact with artist project lead Mark Dion. We anticipate integrating student design solutions into the final plan for the Fern Grotto and potentially showcasing the designs at the Museum.

Defiant Garden for the Moorhead Power Plant
The project team of artists Rob Fischer, Kevin Johnson, and Su Legatt and project director Colleen Sheehy are negotiating terms of an agreement between Moorhead Public Service for the placement of the Defiant Garden on the site of the decommissioned power plant. The former plant will be dismantled in early 2014.

Recent Wins
In early December, the Bush Foundation based in St. Paul, Minn., announced the award of a $200,000 Community Innovation Grant to Plains Art Museum. The Museum’s project, Public Art and Community Engagement, was one of 34 programs to receive grants from the Foundation, which received 618 grant applications from within Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota for this round of funding.

This is further endorsement of the strong network we have built of community partners around specific public art projects. Funds from the grant will be used to increase the vibrancy of the urban cores of Fargo and Moorhead through demonstration public art projects, including the Defiant Gardens program.

With both the Pollinator Garden and the Moorhead Power Plant project, we are at phases when engineering firms are now part of the discussions and design team. This is a departure from most of the work that happens in an art museum where we are skilled at working with artists on physical projects but do not usually work in the public realm. We find it fascinating to work with the engineering profession and to see how these projects depend on their skills and knowledge of natural systems and forces, city infrastructure, and regulations.