The Latest Leadership Williston Project to Launch: North Grand Theater Gets 1950s-Themed Mural
Williston, ND (KEYZ) On a gorgeous but steamy Thursday afternoon recently this news gal got the rare chance to break away from the office to cover something more lighthearted than crime and politics. Getting out is a rarity, so I seized the opportunity to hang with a cool bunch of women working collaboratively to turn the otherwise nondescript north wall of Williston's North Grand Theater into a 1950's-inspired mural with magical, lifelike iconic movie treats calling you to the picture show.
Birth of an idea
The idea for a mural, specifically in the downtown area, began with 2022 Leadership Williston¹ participant (now Director of Public Relations and Marketing for the Williston Parks and Recreation District) Devyn Cox.
"For my project, I specifically had an idea of wanting it to be downtown because of how much I think it's a real defining character; it's the heart of the community," said Cox.
As a resident of the downtown area, Cox was inspired further to enhance the quality of life there for residents and visitors alike.
"I've always been a lover of murals, visual art, and I felt there was a need in our downtown. So, I really wanted to do something big that everybody could see either by driving, by walking. Just benefit their quality of life."
An idea blossoms into a vision
Armed with a general idea for her Leadership Williston project, Cox turned to North Grand Theater owner Abby Agnes for the fleshing out of the vision which has become the "Let's All Go To The Lobby" mural now adorning Agnes' building.
"I've always wanted to do a mural on the side of the building," Agnes told me. "I just started brainstorming ideas what we wanted. We came up with the old "let's all go to the lobby" from the intermissions from the '50s."
From a larger-than-life smiling hot dog (with a very realistic-looking bun, I might add!) to an enormous box of butter-topped popcorn beckoning you to come closer, getting the 1950's cartoon-style tribute to all of our favorite movie treats across the finish line has been a true collaborative effort between Cox, Agnes, and Jamestown artist Linda Roesch.
When asked about their favorite parts of the mural . . .
"I am a lover of chocolate," said Cox. "Actually, the fudgesicle has always been my favorite ever since I was a kid, and I just think he's so fun!"
For her part, Abby Agnes says she loves "the Popcorn Guy." "You go to the movies, you gotta have the popcorn. Even if you are full, you walk in, you smell it, and all of the sudden you're hungry for popcorn again. No matter what."
Williston comes through with support and an artist is hired
With funds awarded to her in July through the STAR Fund, Cox retained Jamestown artist Linda Roesch to craft the six panel mural.
"We are really grateful for the Williston STAR Fund," said Cox. "We got a [Community Build/Growth Grant] up to ten thousand dollars to pay for Linda, the paint, the scissor-lift and all the other things that go into it. So, we're really grateful for them to support another artistic quality of life amenity."
Artist Roesch, whose mural work in Jamestown has gotten her noticed in recent years, also got the attention of North Dakota Council on the Arts Board Member Onesti Krieger who paved the way for Roesch to connect with Cox and Agnes for the one-of-a-kind project.
You have to SEE it to BELIEVE it
As my respite from the office drew to a close some Thursdays ago, I gave my newfound friends outside the North Grand Theater the final words on what will no doubt live on as a legacy project in downtown Williston.
"I just hope everybody enjoys it," said Agnes. "I've heard nothing but positive comments on it. Everybody loves it. Come down and take a look and see for yourself!"
Despite not knowing how to launch her idea at the outset, Cox is grateful to all those who have helped guide her and helped in seeing the project to fruition.
"I'd just like to say 'thank you' to everybody that helped us out, lead us in the right direction [because] definitely at the beginning I was like 'I just have this idea. I don't know who to get in contact [with]', but I'm really grateful for everybody that was involved. The patience. The dedication. And for making this awesome mural happen."
Returning to my car, I reflected on just how great, how enticing, those movie treats looked from their respective perches on the north wall of the North Grand Theater . . . my stomach rumbling as, sadly, no samples came my way that afternoon . . .
¹Leadership Williston (LW) is an 8-month program centered on cultivating leaders each year through community engagement and exploration and professional development. The program is designed to expose existing and emerging leaders to the issues our region faces by using the community as a living classroom. Source: Williston Area Chamber of Commerce
To learn more, visit Leadership Williston.