Brushing Up Moorhead History at the Mall

Jared Froeber (at left) and Cory Gillerstein have spent the week at the Center Mall painting an original mural in honor of Moorhead’s 150th birthday this year. (Photo/Russ Hanson.)

Nancy Edmonds Hanson

The paintbrushes have been busy in the west corridor of the Moorhead Center Mall this week. Artists Jared Froeber and Cory Gillerstein have been creating a mural there to salute the city of Moorhead’s 150th birthday this year.

“We expect to be done by the end of this week,” Gillerstein reports. The two, whose commercial work goes under the name of Upper Hand Signs, began carrying out their plan by transferring their design late last week.

The mural – commissioned by Center Mall manager Andrew Nielsen – was inspired by the classic postcards that offer “Greetings from” cities all over the country. But instead of that 1930s-era view, Gillerstein and Froeber’s design combines modern Moorhead icons.

A railroad crossing sign salutes both the city’s railroad origins and the contemporary love-hate relationship with trains that bisect the city throughout the day. The most familiar roofline in town, the Hjemkomst Center’s masts, nuzzles up against the Viking ship replica itself. It’s flanked by two more icons of modern Moorhead – a Dilly Bar from the Dairy Queen and a twisty-topped cone from the Freez.

A hockey player scoots after a flying puck in the lower left corner. Clusters of red and blue flowers mimic the style of Norwegian rosemaling. And it the lower right corner: a wild turkey.

“This has been a fun project,” Froeber comments. “We wanted to make it the most Moorhead thing that we could do.”

The mall mural isn’t the first by the two artists. In 2019, they created the outdoor art honoring pioneer Moorhead aviator Florence Klingensmith at Moorhead Ace Hardware. Their work can also be seen at Swing Barrel Brewing and its neighbor businesses, on the sides of a number of local food trucks, at Fargo and Drekker Brewing, and at many other businesses around town.

They joined forces as Upper Hand Signs five years ago to carry on the tradition of hand-painted – rather than digitally designed – signs. Gillerstein is a graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead, and Froeber of M-State.

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