Splashes of colors, drawings of iconic animals and images of native culture can be seen in some of the lively murals on Alley 5.5 in downtown Bismarck, North Dakota. Located between Fifth and Sixth streets, this creative alleyway became the hub of a vibrant street art movement in just the past three years and is one of the main attractions for groups.

Photo credit: Bismarck Alley Art

Founded in 2016, Bismarck Art Alley Program is a public art project partnership between Dakota West Arts Council, the 2016 Leadership Bismarck Mandan Project Team and the community of Bismarck. The movement’s mission is to foster ongoing efforts to create public art in the city, thereby developing a sense of place while building a stronger, more connected community.

“The project was born out of the Leadership Bismarck/Mandan Program,” says local artist Paul Noot, one of Bismarck’s eclectic personalities and an active member of the collective since its inception.“ Artists were selected through a juried process and 15 artists were part of it. Several murals have been painted since the first one in 2017, and more are being planned in the alley and other parts of Bismarck.”

While exploring the area, attendees will encounter Noot’s works. He approached each wall as a white canvas, on which he depicted ancient bison and other elements and symbols of North Dakota’s culture. Using spray colors and roll brushes, he paid tribute to the historical and modern richness of the state.

Explore the beauty

While perusing the alley, groups also will be intrigued by the work of Melissa Gordon, a local artist and representative of the program. Inspired by the beauty and legend of Aphrodite, she designed a sensual goddess on the wall of Glance Spa and Salon as well as a painting of the railroad industry as an homage to Mandan’s transportation history.

Groups traveling to the Bismarck/Mandan area have many other opportunities to immerse themselves in the contemporary art folklore of North Dakotas and discover the talented local artists who are keeping this long tradition alive while adding a personal touch.

Read more about the Dakotas’ art scene in Anna Volpicelli’s story, “The Bohemian Side of the Dakotas: An Immersive Experience into the Native American and Regional Art Culture,” in the April issue of Smart Meetings.