Ariel Cole says she lived in the Twin Cities for 15 years before moving back to her hometown in Jamestown and she remembers the art that was part of the culture there.
“Downtown was always so colorful, there’s a lot going on to look at, very artsy in certain areas … and Fargo’s like that too now, and I’m like, ‘Why can’t we do the same thing,’” she said of Jamestown.
As the owner of the Full Monte Salon and Spa downtown, she said she wanted to brighten up the south wall where the business is located at 213 1st Ave. N, adjacent to an alley.
“Our alley was so disgusting - and I’m like, we need to brighten it up back here,” she said. “People drive here all the time, we got lots of walk-in business … you know clients are always seeing it - and I want it to look nice. I want people to come down there and like, want to see it, not shy away from it.”
She had thought about it for some time, she said, starting when the building was purchased in 2016, according to Ariel’s father, Monte Cole.
“I said to my dad, ‘We need to make Jamestown colorful,’ and so I started putting the word out there,” she said.
Just this week, Jamestown became a little more colorful downtown with the addition of a large mural on the south wall of the Full Monte Salon and Spa building.
The Jamestown Downtown Association applied for two grants totaling $3,000 that funded the bison mural on the building that Ariel Cole hopes sparks more images on buildings to make the downtown more appealing to residents and visitors alike.
Funding from the North Dakota Council on the Arts and Jamestown Tourism paid for the artist, Linda Roesch, to do the work and the supplies to create the mural. Roesch started work on the mural on Tuesday and planned to finish it Friday.
Searle Swedlund, executive director of Jamestown Tourism and board chair of the North Dakota Council on the Arts, said there’s a trend of alley art going on now in places such as Bismarck and Fargo. He said the building owned by Ariel Cole’s parents, Monte and Beth Cole, has had a history of painting on it which seemed a natural fit for this kind of project. He singled out Sally Jeppson, gallery manager of The Arts Center, for helping find artists that could facilitate this type of work.
Roesch has been an artist in residence at The Arts Center for the last two years and said she has one more year in that role. She said Jeppson mentioned the mural project and Roesch found Ariel Cole’s specific style for the project fit in with how she paints in her studio work. Roesch’s work also fit in with what the Coles were looking for in an artist.
“The Coles sat down and looked at the different styles that they had,” said Lynn Lambrecht, president of the Jamestown Downtown Association, of the artists considered for the project. “And they really liked Linda ... and it just kind of went from there.”
It was the Coles’ decision on what to do for the mural and who should paint it. Just what to paint for the mural didn’t take long for Ariel Cole to figure out.
“I thought about it for a minute - well, obviously, it’s the buffalo. We’re the Buffalo City,” she said. She said she wanted buffalo, river and the sun in the mural.
“I said I wanted it to drift with color, is what I told her (Roesch) ” she said.
More than 30 colors make up the mural, which is about 16 feet by 18 feet, Roesch said. The background of white, blue and green is made up of latex paint while the bison and the sun were created using spray paint, which is oil based. The outline of the mural is basically a rough shape of North Dakota, Roesch said. The finished product will be sealed to help preserve it from the elements.
Roesch said what was probably among the primary challenges of the project was doing such a large project “freehand” while using a lift to paint on the building.
“Making sure everything was proportionate at this scale was a bit of a challenge,” she added. But she said the project went fast and she was able to outline the shape of the buffalo in 20 minutes.
“It’s definitely gone way faster than what I anticipated all around and I think I attribute that mostly to the spray paint because that was a really fast and easy medium to work with,” she said Thursday.
Lambrecht said the project was “the perfect collaboration” between those who were involved in it. Monte Cole is happy with the mural, too.
“I just think any additions to Jamestown that are reasonably priced, something everybody can enjoy, is well worth the time, in my opinion,” he said. “Keep the downtown alive.”
Lambrecht said they wanted the finished product to be able to stand the test of time, to have an artistic style to it. She said the mural is another touchpoint for people.
“One of the things that I”ve always said when we’re going to do an addition for downtown, is it going to be something that people want to take a picture in front of … this gives us another beautiful alley.”
Two local photographers are already using the mural as part of their senior portrait sessions, Lambrecht said.
“When people take pictures of landmarks, that just puts us on the map for one more thing for people to come see,” Lambrecht said. “And then we’re also kind of hoping that it spurs some creativity in some other areas of downtown. Maybe there’s someone else that hasn’t thought about a mural and now, seeing the reaction to this one, maybe we’ll have some other opportunities.”
She said it’s not necessarily a project for all downtown businesses but it may be an opportunity for certain spaces to be enhanced.
Ariel Cole says with the “road diet” project coming, it’s the perfect time to consider a project. The road diet, also called a lane diet, will reduce the current four lanes of traffic on First Avenue to two with a center turning lane and bumpouts for pedestrians.
“... if Jamestown’s going to be putting in the road (diet) to slow things down and so people can walk a little bit more, why not give them something to look at while they’re walking around,” Cole said. “I’m actually going to challenge some of the other businesses to do the same … so hopefully we get a group of murals going on.”