What’s in Store for ‘Sodbuster’?


'Sodbuster' in its former home at the corner of Broadway and Main Avenue in Fargo (photo via www.fargo-history.com)

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 museum@plainsart.org with the subject “Sodbuster Comments”.
  • Facebook. Leave us a note on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/plainsartmuseum.
  • 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!