Nancy Edmonds Hanson
The Riverside Lofts – just north of the spot where the Main Avenue bridge enters Moorhead – has always harbored a paradox. While the three-story building completed in 2007 puts its best face forward toward the Red River, the front door used by its residents is tucked away in back in a parking lot it shares with a decidedly dismal pair of commercial trash and recycling bins.
Now “artist in residence” Gin Templeton is giving those dull dumpsters a beauty make-over as the first city-sanctioned public art project to specifically tackle … garbage.
The “artsy trash” proposal required the approval of three civic bodies – the art review group, the arts and culture commission and, finally, the city council – to get the go-ahead to overhaul the essential but ugly eyesores. After the council gave its stamp of approval last month, the residents led by condominium board president DeeDee Karls provided Gin with the supplies she needed, and she went to work. The finishing touches were being applied this week.
“We had to get the approvals because dumpsters are city property,” says Lisa Bode, the nine-unit building’s newest resident. As the city’s government affairs director, she knew the ropes. The project falls within the guidelines of the city’s 2018 public art policy, bringing another small touch of color and inspiration to the revival of downtown.
“I’ve never painted a garbage bin before,” Gin says with a laugh. The assignment revived skills from her years in the sign-painting business in Jamestown 20 years ago. Since then, she has concentrated far more on acrylics and canvases, earning a reputation for her landscapes and cityscapes and, more recently, forays into abstracts with the Plains School of Abstract Painting. The group, organized by Marjorie Schlossman, gathers each week to create. Gin also maintains her own art studio in downtown Fargo next to the Red Raven Coffee House at 910 Main Ave.
Board president DeeDee says the bright, colorful bins beside the front door are a long-desired improvement. “One of our former residents, Monte Jones, went to the city to get something done years ago,” she says. “They told him, ‘We don’t do that.’” But thanks to the new-ish public art policy, the project finally came to life. No public funds were involved.
DeeDee points with delight to another artwork created by two other residents, 9-year-old twins Everett and Dorothy Sorenson, children of Matt Sorenson. The two collected bits and pieces of natural and manmade materials under the railroad bridge, then used them to create their own sculpture. They call it “Wild Inspiration.” (Notably, the twins are at the same age as the children DeeDee taught during her 30 years at Glyndon Elementary School.)
“It’s fun to see all that’s happening in downtown Moorhead,” the long-time Moorheader observes. “I hope this inspires others to find ways to brighten it up.”