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Fargo business welcomes controversial mural of climate activist Greta Thunberg

Aaron Templin, owner of Front Street Taproom, points to where Shane Balkowitsch's Gret Thunberg mural will hang..jpg
Aaron Templin, owner of Front Street Taproom at 614 Main Ave. in Fargo, points Friday, Feb. 14, to where Shane Balkowitsch's mural of climate activist Greta Thunberg will be installed. C.S. Hagen / The Forum
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FARGO — Front Street Taproom in downtown Fargo announced Friday, Feb. 14, that it will provide a home to a controversial mural featuring Greta Thunberg, a young climate activist from Sweden.

The taproom, along with its landlord, Investments on Main LLC, said the mural based on a photograph by Shane Balkowitsch will be installed on the back side of the building along SoMa Alley (south of Main Avenue) in the coming weeks.

"We believe that this piece is not only beautiful, but also evokes a reflection on how we interact with our planet," Front Street Taproom said in a statement.

"We were saddened to hear about the developments in Bismarck, but feel confident that those critical voices are in the minority. We do not understand how caring about our environment has become controversial, and we feel fortunate to have the opportunity to use the power of art to show the world that North Dakota does care," the statement added.

The reference to Bismarck was about an earlier plan to have Balkowitsch's work installed at Bismarck’s Brick Oven Bakery .


However, a TV story about that plan spurred negative online comments and threats of boycotting the business, prompting Balkowtisch to cancel the idea of setting up a yet-to-be-created, 7-foot mural of Thunberg at the business.

Balkowitsch has said his work will be based on a photograph he took of Thunberg when she visited the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in October.

After Balkowitsch’s story received national attention, calls from around the country began pouring in, and he has said the mural may be installed at several sites across the U.S.

After Front Street Taproom, 614 Main Ave., agreed to install the artwork, Balkowitsch commented:

"I want to thank the citizens of Fargo for their kindness and generosity and grassroots effort in giving a safe haven for this piece of art. We must stand up for each other, we must look to each other for support and kindness. I am not from Fargo, but the fact that this work is being embraced means the world to me at this time."

SoMa Alley is the unofficial name given to the alley running from Broadway to 10th Street, between Main Avenue and First Avenue South. It is used by some businesses, including Front Street Taproom, as patio space.

Bismarck photographer Shane Balkowitsch took this image of Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg when she visited the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation on Oct. 8, 2019. The artist's plan to install the image as a mural on the outside of a Bismarck bakery was thwarted after Facebook commenters threatened to boycott the business. Shane Balkowitsch / Special to The Forum

I'm a reporter and a photographer and sometimes I create videos to go with my stories.

I graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead and in my time with The Forum I have covered a number of beats, from cops and courts to business and education.

I've also written about UFOs, ghosts, dinosaur bones and the planet Pluto.

You may reach me by phone at 701-241-5555, or by email at
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