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Art project honors generations of North Dakota musicians

November 24, 2018

ADVANCE FOR USE SATURDAY, NOV. 24 - In this Nov. 9, 2018 photo, Marlo Anderson, who has plans to build the North Dakota Music Hall of Fame, poses in Mandan, N.D. He has started the initiative with a new sign celebrating the state's musical heritage in Dykshoorn Park in downtown Mandan. (Tom Stromme/The Bismarck Tribune via AP)

MANDAN, N.D. (AP) — Before she painted a portrait of Peggy Lee, Melissa Gordon didn’t know much about the celebrated singer born in Jamestown.

“I had no idea about the amount of awards she’s won, the impact she had on the music industry,” the Bismarck muralist said.

Gordon was appointed to paint portraits of Lee and other North Dakota-born music artists inducted into the state’s Music Hall of Fame — now standing in signage as North Dakota Music Lane at Dykshoorn Park in Mandan, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

The panels of portraits highlight the lives of Lee, Strasburg-born bandleader Lawrence Welk, singer Bobby Vee from Fargo and Grand Forks-born singer Lynn Anderson. QR codes are available to scan to hear American Top 40 host Shadoe Stevens’ voice-over telling of their music careers.

Marlo Anderson, president of the North Dakota Music Hall of Fame, said Mandan was the perfect place for the project as a central city and “music hub,” given its history of performances downtown and the outdoor concerts at the park’s band shell.

“All the events that happen there, we just think it’s a nice fit. That’s the reason for it,” Anderson said. “It just brings a little visualization to what normally would be auditory. You’ll go there and you can learn a little bit of the history of the inductees.”

The public art project was brought about from the 2017 Leadership Bismarck-Mandan team from the Bismarck-Mandan Chamber of Commerce in collaboration with the North Dakota Music Hall of Fame and Mandan Community Beautification Committee.

Lesley Icenogle was one of the members of the project team that was initially inspired by Art Alley in downtown Bismarck, where Gordon contributed a mural of Hunkpapa Lakota holy man Sitting Bill.

“We liked the idea of tying in both the visual art and the music performance,” Icenogle said.

Anderson said the process of adding to Music Lane is in development. Augmented reality may be a part of it in the future, such as inductees performing via smartphone in the park’s band shell — similar to the Pokemon Go mobile game.

As more music artists are inducted into the Hall of Fame — one annually since 2015 — Anderson said a juried process may eventually select who makes the board. Regional artists may also become eligible, he added.

Gordon said she hopes she can contribute further to Music Lane. She said the project brings awareness to homegrown artists she enjoyed learning about.

“I was thrilled to be involved with the project,” Gordon said. “I think it makes a great addition. It’s kind of neat to see all of the neat things that are springing up in Mandan focused on the arts.”

Icenogle said Music Lane may hopefully have some events in the spring. For millennials who may not know the work of Welk or Lee, Music Lane is a bridge, she added.

“It’s a cool way to get people interested,” Icenogle said.

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Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com

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