Rebuffed in Bismarck, artist’s Greta Thunberg mural likely headed to Fargo

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — A former Fargo city commissioner said Thursday he is spearheading plans to bring a mural honoring Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg to the eastern North Dakota city, after an arrangement by the artist to hang the outdoor image in his hometown of Bismarck received an unfavorable reception.

Shane Balkowitsch had planned to put a 7-foot-tall (2.1-meter tall) mural of Thunberg on the brick exterior wall of a Bismarck bakery, but scrapped that idea after social media threats of boycotts and possible vandalism. Balkowitsch took the photo of Thunberg when she visited the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in October.

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 display the image as a mural on the outside of a Bismarck bakery was thwarted after Facebook commenters threatened to boycott the business. Shane Balkowitsch / Handout

Mike Williams, who served three terms on the Fargo city commission, said he has received permission from a downtown Fargo business owner to put the mural in an alley where other artwork is on display. Williams said he told Balkowitsch to print the panels.

The project would be financed by donations, Williams said.

At 16, Thunberg was Time magazine’s youngest Person of the Year. Balkowitsch donated his photograph of Thunberg looking into the distance on the southern North Dakota reservation to the Library of Congress in Washington.

Fargo is located on the North Dakota-Minnesota border, 190 miles (305.78 kilometers) east of Bismarck.


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