Now on display above one of the busiest intersections in downtown Fargo, a new vinyl mural by artist Emily Williams-Wheeler wraps the skybridge located at the intersection of Broadway and Second Avenue.

And it has already become a visual staple for the people who work and live in the area.

In the company of countless other Fargo landmarks, the new mural acts as a fitting backdrop of vibrant colors for people to enjoy their days; buzzing with action whether sunshine or snowfall.

“The trees depict each season so clearly, you know spring is so glorious with the little buds and blossoms, and then into darker greens in summer,” says Williams-Wheeler.

With an array of colors waiting just a glance away in the sky, her mural illustrates the seasons in a gust of continuity and rounded angles. Just like the trees mark each season, so do the actions of people passing below the mural in the street.

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There’s sure to be families enjoying ice cream outside in the summer, businessmen in long coats and shiny shoes shuffling by in the chilly fall air and cars sliding gracefully through the tight streets in winter.

Stick around long enough and one might even see a fashionable young woman throw her hat into the air like she’s on the "Mary Tyler Moore Show."

As Williams-Wheeler prepared a nine-foot painting which would eventually be scanned and printed on vinyl for the tree mural, she was also involved in the painful process of removing diseased trees from her own yard.

“When the city comes and condemns your tree, you have a week, and it actually took us three weeks before we got someone to do it because there were so many trees condemned this year,” says Williams-Wheeler about her two elm trees that took five long days to cut down.

This year has been a rough one for Fargo elm and ash trees. According to city forester Scott Liudahl in a recent Fargo Forum article, this year about 114 public elm trees have been removed to control Dutch elm disease, compared to 82 public elm trees in 2019.

“On the bright side, we are looking at what kind of trees can bring us joy in a different way,” says Williams-Wheeler. “That’s why we are planting a maple, then we’ll have color in the fall.”

Supported by the city of Fargo’s Arts and Culture Commission, the skybridge mural was put to a vote before the city commission before being approved for installation. The large-scale painting was first scanned before Office Sign Company printed and installed the vinyl panels.

Work begins on the vinyl covering of the downtown skybridge the first week of August. Similar to a bus wrapping, the design is perforated allowing skyway commuters to see out, and light to pass through. Emily Williams-Wheeler / Special to The Forum
Work begins on the vinyl covering of the downtown skybridge the first week of August. Similar to a bus wrapping, the design is perforated allowing skyway commuters to see out, and light to pass through. Emily Williams-Wheeler / Special to The Forum

“It just makes me feel good that the city is very interested in doing it,” says Williams-Wheeler about the process of adding color to the downtown streets.

As she brings new life to her own yard, the artist also hopes to take on the opposite side of the skybridge. In the meantime, countless people will enjoy the art steeped into their daily lives.

From people enjoying outdoor dining at the Downtown Community Partnership’s Alfresco Islands, to business owners and workers encountering it in their daily lives, here’s what people have to say about the mural:

“I notice it every night on my drive home, I enjoy looking at it when I’m stuck in traffic,” says Courtney at Carmine and Hayworth.

“I can see it from my apartment, it’s nice to have something adding to the skyway,” says Austin at the Prairie Den.

“It adds some color to downtown and makes you smile,” says Tabitha at Third Drop Coffee.

“I first saw it in city planning documents when it went through the Arts and Culture Commission. It’s super exciting, colorful, playful, and my kids notice it,” says Adrienne at the Alfresco Islands outside Wasabi.

This article is part of a content partnership with The Arts Partnership, a nonprofit organization cultivating the arts in Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo. For more information, visit http://theartspartnership.net.