An art lover’s day in Fargo-Moorhead

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The Fargo Theatre, home to art films and live performances

So I just got back from spending three days in Fargo-Moorhead, checking out the local arts and culture scene.

Color me impressed.

Three days was not enough time to explore the scene in depth, but it was enough to give me a sense of just what I’m missing. For instance, if I – or you – were in Fargo-Moorhead today, this is just some of what you could do:

First stop: because you’re going to need to fuel up for your uber-active day, head in to Nichole’s for a coffee and a pastry. Wonder at the array of french-style desserts, and remind yourself to come back after dinner.

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Nichole’s pastries look like they’d be at home in a Parisian patisserie

Head over to Broadway, the hub of cultural activity in Fargo. Stop in at Art Connection, which features the work of Jon Offut (glass blower), Mary Pfeifer (painter), Robert Kurkowski (potter) and Kay Ornberg (watercolorist, photographer and seamstress).

Just a few blocks down from Art Connection is Ecce Art + Yoga, run by brother and sister team Mark and Brenda Weiler. Mark runs the gallery, Brenda runs the yoga studio in back (she’s also a successful musician).

The gallery represents a whole host of local artists; currently on show is the work of young Cole La Rocque, whose work deals heavily with his time serving in Iraq.

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Artful shopping at Ecce Art + Yoga

Now, on to The Plains Art Museum, located in a beautifully refurbished turn-of-the-century warehouse. You’ll be glad you had a good breakfast, because you have three stories of art exhibitions to check out, including a show of photography by Fargo-Moorhead native Frederick B. Scheel and his friends (you may have heard of some of them: Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Andre Kertesz…?). The photos were just given to the museum by Scheel’s family, and it’s a beautiful collection.

On the second floor is a show that was inspired by The Beatles’ White Album. Museum Director Colleen Sheehy worked with FM art students to select works from the Plains’ permanent collection that pair well with songs such as “Dear Prudence” and “Rocky Raccoon.” While on the second floor don’t forget to peek into the 12 “significant boxes” by artist Sue Legatt.

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The atrium of the Plains Art Museum.

Head up to the third floor for some really edgy work by Minneapolis artist Andrea Carlson. The exhibition, titled “Vore,” explores the relationship between predator and prey in a series of large, multi-paneled pieces that are gripping – and sometimes disturbing – to behold.

With all this climbing stairs, you’ve probably worked up an appetite (although after Carlson’s show you may be contemplating vegetarianism). Stop in at Cafe Muse on the ground floor of the museum, and enjoy the installation piece “Abundance” by Rachel Breen while you dine.

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Brad Bachmeier’s ceramics, on display at the Rourke Art Museum

By now, the Rourke Art Museum is open (1-5pm, Fri, Sat, Sun), so head on over to Moorhead to check out the stunning ceramics of Brad Bachmeier. Then wander through the Rourke’s eclectic art collection upstairs, with everything from Pop art to West African masks and Chinese pottery. Don’t miss the collection of wood block prints by Birger Sandzen. The experience is made that much more pleasant by the fact the museum is located in the old Moorhead Federal Post Office, built in 1913.

Pay a visit to the Hjemkomst Center, with its Viking ship and Stave Church. Watch the video about Robert Asp, a guidance counselor at Moorhead Junior High School, who had the vision to build the Viking ship, and how, after Asp died, his family fulfilled his vision of sailing the ship to Norway. Then head downstairs to check out the exhibition of prints from the St. John’s Bible project, currently on loan.

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The Hjemkomst Viking ship

Feet hurting yet? Need a break from all this walking? Head over to the Fargo Theatre, with its art deco decor, which is dedicated to presenting independent and foreign film, as well as hosting concerts, plays and other live events. Now showing: Never Let Me Go, starring Kiera Knightley and Carey Mulligan.

Time for dinner. Head to Green Market Kitchen on 4th street, where chef Andrea Baumgardner’s menu changes daily. Tonight you’ll notice the menu is decidedly french – coq au vin, madeleines, a Normandy tart served with St. Andre cheese – that’s because several area restaurants are creating menus to accompany the Fargo Moorhead Symphony concert season “Taste the World.”

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The Fargo-Moorhead Symphony in rehearsal

Now on to North Dakota State University for the symphony concert, including works by Berlioz, Saint-Saens, Bizet and Ravel. Tonight’s featured performer is violinist Tai Murray. Oh and see that silver-haired lady in the string section? That’s Mary King – she’s 99 and still playing strong.

Feeling energized by all that great music? Time for a post-show discussion, or maybe even some more music at the HoDo lounge, which is filled to the brim with artwork by regional talent. If you’re lucky you’ve made reservations for a room at the HoDo (short for Hotel Donaldson), where each room features the work of a different artist. So once you’ve finished your recap of the art-filled day, you can just head upstairs for an art-filled night.

Sweet dreams!

  • FargoFriendinDC

    Add to this Bluestem Performing Arts Center (with Trollwood), and you’re set!

  • Dayna Del Val

    Thanks for the outsider’s view to make me see and appreciate my community and the incredible arts going on all over again, Marianne! Excellent coverage!!

  • Tom Riley

    You missed the new James Rosenquist at the Plains Art Museum. His Paean to his home state. Pop Art is retro, but Rosenquist is still working at 78!

    Just a few other things going on as well.

  • Tom Riley

    You missed the new James Rosenquist at the Plains Art Museum. His Paean to his home state. Pop Art is retro, but Rosenquist is still working at 78!

    Just a few other things going on as well.

  • Lynn O

    Thanks for the great article. I grew up in Fargo-Moorhead but left the area for college. While I enjoyed my years at school very much, the college was in a small town and only after living there for some time did I recognize all the cultural opportunities that the FM area has to offer. Even better, since returning in May I’ve come to realize that the art scene is still growing every day.

  • http://www,fargomoorhead.org Brian

    What a nice tour you took! Many people who come to visit this area are impressed by the arts scene…it has certainly blossomed over the past several years. Thanks for giving the Fargo-Moorhead area such great coverage! We look forward to many visitors!

  • beth

    It would have been wonderful if you could have visited multiple weekends–and caught the performances of the Fargo-Moorhead Opera as well as the FM Symphony.

  • Marianne Combs

    Dear FFinDC – I would have added Trollwood/Bluestem, but this day was based on actual events in Fargo-Moorhead, and there was nothing on the docket at Bluestem this last Saturday. However, see my post on their name change this past Friday.

  • Marianne Combs

    Tom – you’re right! I didn’t mention the mural simply because I’d already covered the installation a few weeks a back. With so much ground to cover (and three floors of work at the Plains!) I figured I’d stick to new material.

  • Marianne Combs

    Beth – it would indeed have been wonderful to spend multiple weekends in Fargo-Moorhead… as it was, I feel very lucky to have had the three days from this past week. I’m looking forward to making similar trips to other parts of the state as I educate myself about all the wonderful cultural offerings across Minnesota.