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5 Questions with Jamie Sebby, Becca Cruger and Senta Grzadzielewski

Questions by Danielle Piekarski

How were “The Three Brushketeers” formed?

We formed by plucky circumstance. We were all involved in a local artist group called Artists Underground and saw the Downtown Development Association's call for mural submissions posted on their Facebook group page. Taking on a project of this size can be daunting for a solo artist, and Senta commented that she'd be interested in teaming up with others. Becca and Jamie immediately jumped into the comments section with a "heck yes", and the rest is history (history that involves a lot of scaffolding and paint).

Can you walk us through the design and creation of the murals in the Town Square? Did the Three Brushketeers create the designs? Did you take turns or did all three of you work together? How long did each mural take?

We get asked these questions a lot, usually accompanied with a sideways glance that implies, "artists are drama and don't work well together". When we first formed, we were all a little leery of how the design process would mesh because it would set the stage for the rest of the creative process. It turns out, we're all hilarious with super dry senses of humor and healthy doses of respect for others' opinions. We all came to the (proverbial and literal) drawing board with different strengths, so that helped. Jamie's expertise with lettering, combined with Senta's mastery of buildings and structures, and Becca's love of vibrant color swirled into a design that was 100% co-created. We all gave our input on every element of both mural designs, usually on a sunshine-dappled porch or while drinking some iced coffee at our official coffee sponsor - The Urban Stampede. (For real, while we were making the first mural, we jokingly created a post about needing an official coffee sponsor, and Jonathan Holth and Justin Auch came through with a gift card!)

In the Grand Forks mural, how did you decide which elements of the area to include?

A laughter-filled whiteboarding session. We threw out everything we loved that made Grand Forks great, some community icons and well-known landmarks, and some hidden Easter eggs that will probably only be known to us. In the first mural, you'll see the upper-right corner places a big emphasis on people, because we all agreed the people who live here truly make this place shine. Many of them also represent each of the colleges at the University of North Dakota. We needed a couple of drafts and a feedback session with our funders to get all the elements just so.

How do murals like this impact the surrounding community?

When we painted the first mural with the "Grand Forks" lettering, we started by outlining the letters and outlining the icons. Shortly afterward, we showed up one evening to work and local photographer, Russ Hons, was taking senior graduation pictures. He didn't realize it wasn't finished! So that senior will forever have unique photos that can't be duplicated. Russ thanked us for creating a colorful backdrop. SO many people - residents and visitors alike - have taken photos in front of this mural and posted those photos online (use our hashtag #townsquaremuralgf so we can see them!). This showcases to people who don't live here that it's a great, colorful place to visit and stay!

The second mural on the Town Square stage totally transformed the background of all the events happening there. Instead of a flat concrete, prison-esque wall, there's now a sense of vibrancy. It's a great example of how organizations like the DDA and UND, investing in projects like this, spur the growth of creativity. Our favorite comment someone left us was, "Thank you for bringing dignity and pride to our downtown. I really appreciate how you use your talents."

Can we expect any upcoming art from The Three Brushketeers?

While we don't have a team project in the works at the moment, we would love for a business to consider sponsoring a community mural for next spring or summer as Midco did, and we would welcome those conversations! It's an investment that lasts for years and beautifies the community. Each of us has our own studio and art practice, and we're very involved in building the local arts scene. Currently, Senta was presented the Mayor's Choice Award and has a solo show up at the Empire Arts Center gallery. Becca has been invited by ArtWise to have a show at their gallery in October. Jamie works with the Flippin' Happy retail store to sell her art and creative offerings.

// To view the full story, check out the digital issue here

From Issue 3, 2023

PHOTOS By Izaiah Reynolds. SUBMITTED By Brushketeers

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