Fargo’s Greta Thunberg mural vandalized earlier in April, so not on display on Earth Day

Vandals have not been located

This bare wall shows Wednesday, April 22, where a mural of teen climate activist Greta Thunberg was hung behind the Front Street Taproom in downtown Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
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FARGO — Nineteen days ago vandals egged the mural of climate activist Greta Thunberg outside of the Front Street Taproom.

The incident occurred on April 3 between 9:50 p.m. and 10:10 p.m., according to Fargo police reports, and the vandals have not been identified yet. The case has been filed inactive pending further information.

As of Wednesday, April 22, the mural, which was printed on metal, was missing from where it was bolted along the outside of the bar and restaurant in SoMa Alley, the unofficial name given to the street running from Broadway to 10th Street between Main Avenue and First Avenue South. The area is used as patio space, and video cameras cover the area where the mural was hung.

The egging ate away the top layer of varnish, according to Bismarck artist and wet plate photographer Shane Balkowitsch.


“I was notified by Mike Williams that the mural had been damaged and that it was his notion to replace it immediately,” Balkowitsch said. “This is something that we had prepared for and in some ways expected this possibility. I’m not surprised here.”

Williams, a former Fargo City Commissioner, raised funding locally to bring the mural to Fargo and said the vandalism didn't come as a surprise.

"We didn't have as much laminate as we thought," Williams said. "But we'll just keep putting her back up and take care of it. I hope they catch those guys. Shane was devastated, and it's hard for him, but we're going to be putting it back up as quickly as we can."

Self Portrait - Anonymous Egging of an Artist by Shane Balkowitsch
Self Portrait - 'Anonymous Egging of an Artist' by Shane Balkowitsch.

Balkowitsch will be assisting with the costs of replacement, he said.

“It’s an artist’s job to make the art and I’m putting it out there in the public, and to me the art is doing its job if it solicits a good or a bad response. We can’t always take the good without the bad,” Balkowitsch said.


The mural, which is a replica based on Balkowitsch’s piece titled “Standing With Us All,” was hung in Fargo on March 21 after controversy in Bismarck forced the artist to withdraw a petition to have it hung in the downtown area.

Balkowitsch, a renowned wet plate photographer featured in magazines and documentaries, is no stranger to people vandalizing his art. In downtown Bismarck, another piece of his art titled “Liberty Trudges Through Injustice” was egged after the controversy over Thunberg drew negative comments and threats to boycott Brick Oven Bakery, the establishment that originally agreed to hang his Thunberg mural.

Balkowitsch took the wet plate photograph when Thunberg visited Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in October 2019.

When Balkowitsch’s work arrived in Fargo, he said he was grateful to Williams who arranged for the mural to be hung. Balkowitsch decided not to attend the hanging ceremony due to the coronavirus pandemic social distancing guidelines, but said he plans to hold a ceremony at a later date.

Since the controversy began, however, Balkowitsch’s artwork has sparked interest around the world , from Paris, Los Angeles, Poughkeepsie, N.Y., College Park, Md., and Standing Rock.

“We can’t let vandalism win, and there’s no question that we will put her back up,” Balkowitsch said, mentioning that the story about the vandalism came out on Earth Day.

During the time the mural has hung in Fargo, Balkowitsch said many people have reached out to him in support.

“The support has been overwhelming,” Balkowitsch said. “I’ve been getting numerous images of people standing with Greta, which is appropriate because it’s entitled ‘Standing For Us All.’ ”


Dave Hundstad holds the lower panel as Larry Larson preps to mount the section of the Greta Thunberg mural in the alley of the Front Street Taproom on Saturday, March 21. David Samson / The Forum

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