Museum Initiatives

Plains Art Museum invites Native artists to enter Emerging Visions

January 1, 1970 - to
Plains Art Museum invites Native artists to enter Emerging Visions

Plains Art Museum invites emerging visual artists living in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin to submit works for Emerging Visions, its first juried exhibition of contemporary Native American art in the region.

Submission guidelines are available at Entries are due September 30, 2015, and the selection process will be done through a blind review. Emerging Visions will open February 18 and run through May 22, 2016.

Hapistinna Graci Horne will serve as juror and select works for the show, as well as award cash prizes and honorable mentions. She is a multi-media artist and director/curator of All My Relations Gallery in Minneapolis.

For more information, visit or contact Laura Youngbird,, 701-551-6119. The exhibition is supported by the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation.


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Heritage Garden project in Moorhead seeks plants, stories, and volunteers

January 1, 1970 - to
Heritage Garden project in Moorhead seeks plants, stories, and volunteers

The Heritage Garden at the south side of Woodlawn Park is taking shape near the site of the former Moorhead Power Plant which was demolished in 2014. Coordination and design of the new garden is under the direction of artists Su Legatt, Rob Fischer, and Kevin Johnson, who are working closely with Plains Art Museum, the City of Moorhead, Moorhead Public Service, Concordia College, and community volunteers.

The team is asking current and former Moorhead residents, especially those displace by recent flood buy-outs, for perennial plants and stories, focusing on neighborhoods near the site. Plant pledges are needed by May 22, and plant donations will be accepted at the site on Saturday, June 6. Volunteers are also needed for the site on Friday, June 5.

Some plants may come from gardens that were left behind when houses were removed from the flood-prone riverside. Story subjects will include memories of past floods, life in Moorhead and the Woodlawn neighborhood, and the historic power plant.

Anyone interested in contributing full-sun perennials and stories, or helping to plant at the Heritage Garden, can go online to, or email, or call Su Legatt at 218-329-4950.

Heritage Garden details at a glance:

Plant pledges and stories due May 22
Heritage Garden Planting Days: Friday, June 5, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. and Saturday, June 6, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

For more information, and to submit stories and plant pledges:

Internet: or

Phone: Su Legatt, 218-329-4950

Support for this project has come from the National Endowment from the Arts, Artplace America, the Bush Foundation, and Lake Region Arts Council, Plains Art Museum’s Phyllis Thysell Fund for Education, and the City of Moorhead and Moorhead Public Service.

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Central Time Centric symposium set for Fargo in September

January 1, 1970 - to
Central Time Centric symposium set for Fargo in September

CTC logo w sponsors

Plains Art Museum will host Central Time Centric, a landmark symposium, on September 4-7, 2014, in Fargo, N.D. Socially engaged art has gained recent momentum, though it has long roots in community arts, social and political movements, feminist art, and more. For both artists and arts organizations, social engagement is a means to increase relevance, effect social change, and utilize the qualities of art and the skills and concerns of artists to engage the public and address community issues.

Hear from a distinguished group of socially committed artists and arts leaders working to build a more connected network and community of practice in the Midwest.  Participants will take part in conversations about the role of artists in communities, the most effective ways of doing this work, and the histories that converge today that underpin and inform this work, among other issues.

We invite artists, arts leaders, curators, faculty, students, and others interested in exploring the role of art in social change, environmental issues, community development, and strengthened human connections. Visitors to Fargo will have opportunities to learn about one of the fastest growing small cities in the country and meet our creative community.

Attendees will have free admission to the symposium opening event, Walker Art Center’s 2014 Internet Cat Video Festival. The screening is on Sept. 4 at 7 p.m. at the Fargo Theatre with pre-screen events starting at 6 p.m.

For more information and registration, visit the Central Time Centric symposium page on our website. For questions, contact Karis Thompson, community engagement liaison, at or 701.551.6101.  Plains Art Museum is located at 704 1st Avenue North, Fargo, N.D.,

The symposium is $50 ($40 for Museum members and $20 for college students)


Christine Baeumler, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
Jackie Brookner, New York City and Fargo
Roger Cummings, Juxtaposition Arts, Minneapolis
Rick Lowe, Project Row Houses, Houston
Michael J. Strand, North Dakota State University, Fargo

Panelists and workshop facilitators

Cameron Cartiere, Emily Carr University of Art + Design, Vancouver, B.C.
Julia Cole, Charlotte Street Foundation, Kansas City
Juan Williams Chávez, Pruitt-Igoe Bee Sanctuary, St. Louis
DeAnna Cummings, Juxtaposition Arts, Minneapolis
Jim Duignan, Stockyard Institute, Chicago
David Dunlap, FYLFOT Fellows Correspondence Club and PAINTALLICA, Iowa City
Matthew Fluharty, Art of the Rural, St. Louis
Sam Gould, Red76, Minneapolis
Wing Young Huie, The Third Place Gallery, Minneapolis
Colin Kloecker and Shanai Matteson, Works Progress Studio, Minneapolis
Nicolas Lampert, University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee
Su Legatt, North Dakota State University, Fargo
Sandra Menefee Taylor, artist, St. Paul
Jay Salinas, The Wormfarm Institute, Reedsburg, WI
Abigail Satinsky, incubate and Threewalls, Chicago
Sarah Schultz, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
Colleen Sheehy, Plains Art Museum, Fargo
Brittany Sickler, U.S. Small Business Administration, Fargo
Sandy Spieler, In the Heart of the Beast Mask and Puppet Theatre, Minneapolis
Scott Stulen, Indianapolis Museum of Art
Karis Thompson, Plains Art Museum, Fargo
Daniel Tucker, Never the Same, Chicago
Jesse Vogler, The Institute for Marking and Measuring, St. Louis
Dan S. Wang, Compass, Madison Mutual Drift, Red76, Madison, WI
Chaun Webster, Ancestry Books & Free Poet’s Press, Minneapolis
Mark Weiler, ecce gallery, Fargo
Watie White, artist, Omaha, NE
Laura Zabel, Springboard for the Arts, St. Paul
Heather Zinger, Sanford Health, Fargo and Springboard for the Arts, Fergus Falls, MN

Central Time Centric is supported in part by grants from the Bush Foundation’s Community Innovation Program and the North Dakota Humanities Council, a nonprofit independent state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and by co-sponsorships with the Fargo Theatre, Hotel Donaldson and the Department of Visual Arts, North Dakota State University.

Living as Form (The Nomadic Version) is on view June 12 – September 14, 2014. Co-organized by Creative Time and Independent Curators International (ICI) with Nato Thompson as lead curator, with additional regional projects curated by Colleen Sheehy and the Living as Form project team at Plains Art Museum.



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Juried Cat Video Festival is catnip to museum audiences

January 1, 1970 - to
Juried Cat Video Festival is catnip to museum audiences

Lil Bub

“Grumpy Cat,” “Lil Bub,” “Pudge” and “Henri” are names of just a few celebrity cats made famous by videos on YouTube. The cats are a viral phenomenon, and now they are part of an art museum’s repertoire to expand audiences.

It’s a fascinating new development in museum circles, spearheaded by the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. I saw these celebrities in person – and their videos – at the Minnesota State Fair in August, when the Cat Video Festival played to an audience of 10,000 in the fair’s grandstand.

Usually the paragon of cutting edge art, WAC lately has become known across the nation and even internationally for this unexpected hit. The Cat Video Festival was developed by the Museum’s education staff as part of their new initiative called Open Field, with fun activities for the public taking place in the museum’s outdoor spaces, including the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.

First organized a year ago, the Cat Video Festival started innocently enough as a fun way to close the 2012 season of Open Field with an outdoor movie screening. Rather than anything avant-garde, WAC staff decided to feature a popular art form – YouTube videos that people make of their cats doing funny things. Some of these are bona fide short movies with plots, characterizations and voice-overs. The museum solicited submissions from around the globe, juried the submissions, and planned to present the best ones.

To their surprise, 10,000 people showed up. Some brought their cats. Some painted their faces to look like cats. Others wore cat costumes. Everyone was flabbergasted at the turnout. It was a super fun evening of people being together outside on a warm night. They laughed their heads off together. A phenomenon had been born.

Front page of the Arts section in the New York Times shortly followed, then an invitation for Scott Stulen from the WAC staff to speak about the festival at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas. Then came an invitation to do a TED talk. Taking it to the Minnesota State Fair as a grandstand show was a logical next step.

On a serious note, the Cat Video Festival is a lighthearted way to reach out to diverse audiences to get more people involved with museums. And you can look at these shorts as homemade art. The project is an effort to bring people together offline, together in the same venue. Funny is more funny when laughing with 9,999 other people than alone on your computer screen or cellphone.

I’m happy to report that, at Plains Art Museum, we are talking with Stulen and others at WAC about showing the Cat Video Festival in Fargo a year from now. It would be tied to an exhibition and conference that highlight artists working with communities.

Get your cat videos ready! Get ready to get together for a good laugh about our feline companions and the people who love them.

NxNW is an occasional arts and culture column written for The Forum by Colleen Sheehy, director and CEO of the Plains Art Museum.

Photo Credit: Meet Lil Bub by Paul Schmelzer

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Museum finalist for ArtPlace Grant

January 1, 1970 - to
Museum finalist for ArtPlace Grant

Plains Art Museum has been named a finalist for a grant from ArtPlace, an initiative to accelerate creative placemaking across the United States through grants and loans, research, communication, and advocacy. The Museum was selected as one of 105 finalists, representing the best of the 1,225 letters of inquiry from across the country. Finalists were chosen for their potential to transform communities through placing art and culture at the heart of portfolios of integrated strategies that drive vibrancy and diversity.

“It is a huge honor to be a finalist for this prestigious national grant,” said Colleen Sheehy, Plains Art Museum Director and CEO. “We have been working on these public art projects for Fargo-Moorhead for several years, and an ArtPlace grant would help us to bring these to fruition. Our communities want more public art.”

The Museum’s grant proposal aims to increase the vibrancy of the urban cores of downtown Fargo and neighboring Moorhead by fulfilling three artist-led initiatives in Plains Art Museum’s program, Defiant Gardens for Fargo-Moorhead. The project was inspired by landscape historian Kenneth Helphand’s book, “Defiant Gardens: Making Gardens in Wartime” (2006) and applies his concept of “defiant gardens” as a productive model for place-making by artists to build vibrancy and social engagement into urban spaces. Projects include:

  • Defiant Garden for the Moorhead Power Plant
    • The Moorhead City Council, Moorhead Public Service Commission, and citizens have been grappling for five years about the redevelopment of the Power Plant building and site. The Defiant Garden for that site will bring people to a new garden in an area that has been off-limits because of its industrial nature and will create an amenity. Rob Fischer and Kevin Johson are serving as the artists for the Power Plant.
  • Pollinator Garden for Plains Art Museum
    • The Pollinator Garden will be created with K-12 school students and be tied to 4-H and science classes. The Museum site, which is surrounded by building, streets, and parking lots, will incorporate a lively green space and learning laboratory, where people in the neighborhood can convene and enjoy the outdoors. Christine Bauemler is serving as the lead artist for the Pollinator Garden.
  • Fern Grotto for Fargo
    • The Fern Grotto will bring people to a new amenity – a small greenhouse on the main retail street of downtown and be a pleasant respite during North Dakota’s long winters. There is currently no indoor green space in Fargo, like a conservatory, accessible to the public. Mark Dion, in collaboration with architect Regin Schwaen, is servings as the lead artist for the Fern Grotto.

This year’s grant recipients will be announced in May. To date, ArtPlace has distributed $26.9 million to 76 organizations in 46 communities across the country.  ArtPlace is a collaboration of 13 leading national and regional foundations and six of the nation’s largest banks. Participating foundations include Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Ford Foundation, The James Irvine Foundation, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, The McKnight Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The William Penn Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, Rasmuson Foundation, The Surdna Foundation and two anonymous donors. ArtPlace also seeks advice and counsel from close working relationships with various federal agencies, including the National Endowment for the Arts, the departments of Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Education, and Transportation, along with leadership from the White House Office of Management and Budget and the Domestic Policy Council. ArtPlace is also supported by a $12 million loan fund capitalized by six major financial institutions and managed by the Nonprofit Finance Fund. Participating institutions are Bank of America, Citi, Deutsche Bank, Chase, MetLife and Morgan Stanley.

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Next week, show your love during Giving Hearts Day

January 1, 1970 - to
Next week, show your love during Giving Hearts Day

Plains Art Museum is proud to be part of Giving Hearts Day 2012, sponsored by Dakota Medical Foundation. If you make an online contribution of $10 or more to the Museum at on Tuesday, February 14, your gift will by doubled by a generous match from the Otter Tail Corporation. We invite you to give from the heart and show some love for the Museum!

Mark your calendars for February 14 and bookmark!

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What’s in Store for ‘Sodbuster’?

January 1, 1970 - to
What’s in Store for ‘Sodbuster’?


'Sodbuster' in its former home at the corner of Broadway and Main Avenue in Fargo (photo via

Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen an outpouring of interest over the fate of Sodbuster, a sculpture by artist Luis Jimenéz that once stood at the corner of Main Avenue and Broadway in downtown Fargo. This level of interest is exciting, and it illustrates the point that works of art are memorable and can serve as important community icons.  After ten years of the sculpture being in storage and awaiting conservation and repair, people remember it vividly and would like to see it returned to a public view.

So, what’s in store for Sodbuster?

First off, Sodbuster is in pretty bad shape. Made from fiberglass, it withstood twenty years of exposure to UV rays, full sun, rain, snow, heat, cold, vibrations from a nearby railroad track, and vandalism, resulting in severe discoloration and weakening of its coating. After the City of Fargo donated the sculpture to the Museum (it was not purchased, as has been reported) back in 1991, the Museum enlisted the expertise of a conservator and the artist himself to restore the work. After Jimenéz tragically died in 2006, these plans were put on hold. Since then, the Museum has had to regroup around the restoration of Sodbuster, as other priorities have taken center stage.

What is perhaps most striking about the recent resurgence in interest in Sodbuster is that it underscores the importance of public art in a community’s identity. Many Fargoans feel a palpable connection to this sculpture, and it is important that we offer everyone – individuals, businesses, community groups – the opportunity to lend us their opinions on Sodbuster’s future.

We take very seriously our role as caretaker of this valuable piece of art and central visual landmark for the history of Fargo. This role requires that we develop a professional plan for Sodbuster‘s proper restoration. The cost of restoration could run $100,000 or more, so issues of funding are also part of this conversation. The successful future of this landmark rests on first establishing dialogue, and we want to have a dialogue with the community and interested parties.  What steps need to be taken for a successful restoration? How can restoration costs be successfully raised? What sites might be considered for its future? What does it take to properly restore this piece, one made of unorthodox material and needing expert care?

We’re now putting a plan in place  to share information about Sodbuster’s history and current condition, to outline what needs to happen to restore the sculpture, and to invite community input about how to get Sodbuster back on its feet. In November (exact date to be determined), we’ll be hosting a “Sodbuster Summit” at the Museum where you can hear about the issues behind the restoration and voice your opinion on its future. In the meantime, here are some ways for you to lend us your comments:

  • Right here. Leave a comment on this blog post. Feel free to comment on others’ posts, too. Comments are moderated, FYI, so they may take some time to appear. All pertinent comments will be published.
  • Email. Email us at with the subject “Sodbuster Comments”.
  • Facebook. Leave us a note on our Facebook page at
  • Twitter. Tag us with @plainsartmuseum and/or tag your comment with #sodbuster.
  • Snail mail. Send us a letter at PO Box 2338, Fargo, N.D., 58108.
  • Museum staff will also be appearing on local talk radio shows to talk about Sodbuster, field questions, and hear your comments. We’ll announce those appearances through Facebook.

Thank you in advance for your comments, and we’ll see you in November!

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Notes from the CCLI Informational Meeting

January 1, 1970 - to
Notes from the CCLI Informational Meeting

A couple weeks ago, the Museum hosted an informational meeting regarding the Creative Community Leadership Institute (CCLI), a program administered by Intermedia Arts, a Minneapolis-based multidisciplinary organization whose goal is to foster community growth through the arts. CCLI provides its attendees with comprehensive, professional-level training and support for local community-engaged artists and community developers. A CCLI session is coming to Fargo next spring.

In his presentation to the two dozen or so in attendance, CCLI faculty member Bill Cleveland stressed that communities in the 21st century require creativity in order to survive and be sustainable. Further, arts and community leaders must be at the table in order for broad initiatives to succeed. CCLI provides those people with the tools and relationships within their respective communities to ensure that community initiatives do, indeed, work. In the Twin Cities, dozens of CCLI alumni form a core group of active community artists, organizers, and developers who have this understanding and this vital skill set in place.

  • Curious about CCLI? Please consider applying if you want to improve the community and already have active community relationships, have experience in community organizing, or work in the economic development, health care, or education sectors. Also, be prepared to work: CCLI demands a commitment 100+ total hours over the course of 4 – 5 months and requires plenty of research, writing and research. At the same time, sessions are plenty of fun and use active arts-based learning (singing, dancing, etc.) in addition to rigorous study.
  • Want to learn more? Click to download a CCLI Info Sheet (PDF).

If you’d like to keep up with CCLI plans as they progress, email me at and I’ll add your name to an email update list for future informational meetings.

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Jack Becker Presentation, Part of Go 2030

January 1, 1970 - to
Jack Becker Presentation, Part of Go 2030

Jack Becker, executive director of Forecast Public Art, will give a presentation this evening at 7 p.m. in the Fargo city commission chambers on advancing and strengthening the field of public art. Becker is a dynamic speaker who has also served as a public art consultant since 1994, helping connect the ideas and energies of artists with the needs of communities. In 2007 he received Public Art Network Award of Excellence from Americans for the Arts for his contribution to the field.

Becker’s presentation is part of a series of talks and community meetings, Go 2030, being held by the city of Fargo in advance of its 2030 comprehensive plan. Currently, the city is in the exploratory phase of the plan and is gathering public input through these events. (Learn more at the Go 2030 website and get updates through their Facebook page.)

Advancing public art initiatives has been a focus of the Museum’s mission through the Defiant Gardens program and a variety of other efforts. The Museum is working closely with city officials in Fargo and Moorhead, artists, community members, and art educators to demonstrate how communities can be strengthened and quality of life improved through such initiatives. We encourage you to attend today’s presentation to learn more about public art and the 2030 comprehensive plan.

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Mark Dion’s Suprising Designs

January 1, 1970 - to
Mark Dion’s Suprising Designs

Mark Dion has built a career presenting alternative arrangements to the current dominant theories of social organization through inventive, and often humorous, small buildings and installation pieces that find alternate ways of ordering everyday objects and questioning the interaction with those objects. He will present a few of his ideas in a lecture at NDSU’s Renaissance Hall on Monday, November 15 at 4:15 p.m. Dion will also work with students and faculty to develop ideas for a “Wintergarden Fern Grotto,” his Defiant Garden idea.

The above photo comes from the inside of Neukom Vivarium, a cross between a sculpture, an architectural project, and an art object placed in the Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle. Neukom Vivarium involved removing a large log from a forest and placing it in a specially designed greenhouse where its decomposition – and the new life that began to take hold – could be carefully observed.

Dion’s visit to Fargo is co-sponsored by Plains Art Museum, NDSU Department of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, NDSU Department of Visual Arts, and MSUM Department of Art and Design.

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