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A portrait of North Dakota: The Heritage Art Tunnel

Published: Oct. 21, 2020 at 10:04 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - If you drive on State Street in Bismarck every day -- you may not know you’re driving over a tunnel that connects the Myron Atkinson Park to the Heritage Center. but soon, you won’t be able to miss it.

A new look is coming to a Bismarck feature that’s often overlooked “We want people to know that the tunnel is here!” exclaimed Project Team Member, Tracey Miller.

Rolling out history with a splash of whimsical color that brings the pedestrian on a journey through time.

Artist Melissa Gordon said, “It’ll start here in the East at the beginning of time and then the west will be modern times.”

The Heritage Art Tunnel Project began last year as part of the Bismarck Mandan Chamber EDC’s Leadership Program.

Team Member Heather Pitsiladis said, “We chose our end of year project to bring some art to the community.”

And the Capitol Grounds Planning Commission unanimously approved the project on Oct. 1, leaving Gordon giddy saying, “Oh, this is so exciting.”

Now, the team is starting to see their hard work unfold before their eyes.

“I took the North Dakota studies curriculum and turned into a circuit board, a motherboard, if you will, kind of a theme,” said Gordon.

The inspiration coming from the industries that drive North Dakota’s Economy.

Miller explaining, “One side is energy, and one side is agriculture.”

State Heritage Society Director, Bill Peterson, envisioning where the state has been saying, “As I recall, the artwork takes it back to the Native American agriculture that went on here before European settlement, so I think the look brings the entire history of the region along with it into the narrative.”

While Gordon recalls where we are now, “is the age of the computers with the mother boards and the circuitry.”

The Heritage Art Tunnel will be a place where you can learn, appreciate, and get inspired.

“It brings the landscape into the capitol grounds into the education into all of the things that can make murals like this so special,” said ND Council on the Arts Executive Director, Kim Konikow.

Painting should begin when the weather warms back up. “I know it’s, I can’t wait. I can’t wait to get it started,” said Gordon. And that’s just phase one.

“We have a big vision for this project,” said Pitsiladis. Closing one chapter of a story that’s still being written. Pitsliadis remarking, “There’s going to be lots of things to come, so just stay tuned!”

The Northern Plains Heritage Foundation has awarded a grant for the project, while Capital City Christmas Group has generously donated to the cause.

They’re immensely grateful for the support they’ve received so far and for their partnership with the Bismarck Mandan Chamber EDC, the Dakota West Arts Council, and the State Historical Society, but are still open to partnerships and community involvement.

Visit their website www.artscapital.org/hatproject or Facebook page, Heritage Art Tunnel, to learn more and find out how you can get involved.

You can also donate to their capital campaign by searching Heritage Art Tunnel at gofundme.com or by following this link https://bit.ly/31sbmDG.

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