MOORHEAD — Does anything give a community more personality than great artwork strewn throughout the city? I say no.

I remember my very earliest days as a young weekend reporter at WDAY-TV. The stories we did were often on the lighter side, which was just fine with me. While my weekday co-workers were often arguing over who would cover the big fire across town, I’d raise my hand to work on a dog birthday party at Trollwood Park.

One particular weekend, the photographer and I got sent downtown to watch as a group of young people were painting a mural off a building on Broadway. This was in the days when downtown wasn’t what it is today. The buildings were rundown and merchants had scattered to the west. Downtown was, frankly, a little depressing. But, even amid the rundown buildings and empty storefronts, I remember seeing that mural of zoo creatures on the side of the building and feeling that it somehow brightened up the whole block.

Moorhead High School students worked on the latest mural in downtown Moorhead. From left: Lanie Leines, Antje Swanson, Maria Kasongo, Ella Olson, Emma McDonnell, Jolee Krull, Kacy Haphey, Aya Vigilant, Jeana Lee, Sophia Schuetz, Ayana Lutgen and Nina Holding Eagle. Photo courtesy of Kara Lee / Special to The Forum
Moorhead High School students worked on the latest mural in downtown Moorhead. From left: Lanie Leines, Antje Swanson, Maria Kasongo, Ella Olson, Emma McDonnell, Jolee Krull, Kacy Haphey, Aya Vigilant, Jeana Lee, Sophia Schuetz, Ayana Lutgen and Nina Holding Eagle. Photo courtesy of Kara Lee / Special to The Forum

Fast forward to now and we see murals everywhere throughout Fargo-Moorhead. My colleague, John Lamb, recently wrote a story about a new mural, “Greetings from Fargo,” on Roberts Street.

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How many of you have taken a photo of yourself with the angel’s wings on the side of the Silver Lining Creamery building or had senior photos taken in the alley behind The Forum building? There are so many murals, the Fargo-Moorhead Convention and Visitors Bureau has a whole page dedicated to them.

Now, we can add one more to the list. Yay!

For one week in July, Moorhead High School students came together and painted a design on the 40-foot-wide shipping container in the southeast corner of the Moorhead Center Mall parking lot.

Organizer, artist and Moorhead native LesleyAnne Buegel, of Folkways, recruited the students with the help of Moorhead High School art teacher Marissa Jensen earlier this spring.

Buegel, who has painted several murals around Fargo-Moorhead, worked with the students to create the design and organize logistics that go into installing a public art piece.

2021 Moorhead High graduate Ayana Lutgen was excited to be involved in the entire project.

“Being a part of this whole painting process was a very meaningful experience,” Lutgen said. “It was super fun and brought a real sense of community amongst my classmates and friends.

You can see the mural on a storage container in the southeast corner of the Moorhead Center Mall parking lot. Photo courtesy of Kara Lee Creative Co. / Special to The Forum
You can see the mural on a storage container in the southeast corner of the Moorhead Center Mall parking lot. Photo courtesy of Kara Lee Creative Co. / Special to The Forum

Moorhead Mayor Shelly Carlson said she loves the mural and passes by it often on her way into City Hall

“The energy and talent of the student artists that designed and painted the mural add a wonderful vibrancy to our downtown. Drive by and just try not to smile. I bet you can’t do it!”

The mural is located in the southeast parking lot of Moorhead Center Mall. The storage container is currently being used to hold supplies for various events held in downtown Moorhead, including Moorhead Cruise Night.

Find more of Buegel’s artwork at lesleydidthat.com.

Readers can reach Forum reporter and "Back Then with Tracy Briggs" columnist Tracy Briggs at tracy.briggs@forumcomm.com.