Fri, Feb 14, 2020 - Page 7 News List

Artist scraps plans for Thunberg mural in North Dakota

AP, BISMARCK, North Dakota

A North Dakota artist on Wednesday said that he has scrapped his plans for a mural honoring Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg following boycott threats against a Bismarck business.

Shane Balkowitsch had planned to put a 2.1m-tall mural of Thunberg on the brick exterior wall of a bakery. Balkowitsch took the photograph of the teenager when she visited the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in October last year.

Balkowitsch told the Bismarck Tribune that he saw the planned mural as a celebration of art, not a dig at oil or coal companies in North Dakota.

However, after threats of boycotts and possible vandalism appeared when KFYR-TV posted a story about the planned mural on its Facebook page on Tuesday, Balkowitsch said on Wednesday that he had pulled his application with the city.

“There was no motivation other than install a very important piece of history that was captured here in North Dakota, in Bismarck, but I guess Bismarck doesn’t want it,” Balkowitsch said.

Balkowitsch had secured permission for the mural from the bakery and the building’s owner. City planning staff had recommended approval, according to city documents.

“I feel for the bakery,” Balkowitsch said.

“I can’t have some business being threatened for my work,” he said.

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