Bison make debut
Don't look now, but there are bison on the horizon. Starting today, a herd of painted, glazed and otherwise embellished buffalo sculptures will fan out to designated spots in Fargo-Moorhead, where the works of art will remain on display for the summer months.
Some of the pieces - created by area artists to raise funds for the Lake Agassiz Arts Council - will take up temporary positions along the route of the Fargo Marathon, a whimsical welcome to the more than 5,000 runners expected for Saturday's races.
Seventy-five fiberglass bison were created as part of the Arts Council fundraiser dubbed "Herd About the Prairie."
Forty-three of the figures are full-sized. There are also eight calf versions and 24 tabletop models.
While most had their hides enhanced by professional artists, about a third underwent creative modification at the hands of area students.
The educational models will return this fall to the schools that took them on as projects.
The rest, unless they've been pre-sold, will be auctioned.
Organizers aren't sure how much the bison will fetch, but Martha Keeler Olsen, Arts Council director, is optimistic.
She said a dozen full-sized figures have already sold for $8,000 each.
Wimmer's Diamonds in downtown Fargo will be home to a buffalo painted by artist Pat Krueger of Blaine, Minn.
Brad Wimmer, part owner of the jewelry store at 602 Main Ave., described the artwork as extremely colorful.
He said the store is still trying to decide where the animal will go, but they're leaning toward placing it in a small garden area.
"We think it will be a real focal point for the corner of Main and Broadway," Wimmer said.
The Arts Council hosted a party Wednesday night in a Fargo city warehouse that served as a bivouac for the bison.
The event was a thank-you to the sponsors, artists and others who have helped with the fundraiser and public art effort, Olsen said.
Locations for displaying the artwork range from the Moorhead Public Library to West Fargo City Hall.
Three of the bison will take up stations on the Main Avenue bridge between Fargo and Moorhead, said Michael Olsen, who heads the campaign's promotional side.
Many artists gave their works a bold look and Olsen hopes the pieces won't draw the wrong kind of attention.
"They were conceived from day one to be public art and a gift to the community. With that comes reward and some risk," Olsen said.
"I hope everybody respects the hundreds and hundreds of hours that went into them. Each (piece of artwork) has a story," he said.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555