New Art Gallery Promotes Healing, Wellness at Altru's South Campus

Article written by Pamela Knudson of the Grand Forks Herald.

The "Art of Wellness" exhibit was officially opened to the public Thursday at a reception in the Altru Professional Center at South Washington Street and 44th Avenue South in Grand Forks.

The exhibit, a joint project of the Public Arts Commission and Altru Health System, features about 120 works by local and regional artists or those with ties to the region.

About half of the artworks are from the private collection of Bruce Gjovig of Grand Forks.

During brief remarks at the reception, Dave Molmen, who retired Dec. 31 as Altru's CEO, thanked the members of the Public Arts Commission for their work on this project and Gjovig for lending a portion of his art collection for the exhibit.

"(Gjovig) understands the value of art deeply," Molmen said, "and set a high standard" for the exhibit.

In his remarks, Gjovig said, "Art defines who we are, and it reflects who we are."

"It gives me great joy to see people who might not otherwise get a chance to see art, to see this," he said.

Meghan Compton, Altru's executive vice president and chief legal officer, said the exhibit "gives a different sense of calm and a different experience" for patients, their families and those who work in the building

"The impact is significant," she said.

Altru already offers music and animal therapy for patients, "so this is another component of a nontraditional way to promote wellness," Compton said.

The artworks represent a wide range of media, including oil and watercolor paintings, photography, mixed media, sculptures and prints.

The art "has changed the whole feeling of the place," said Jason Restemayer, local interior designer who was in charge of hanging and lighting the artworks.

The PAC is working with Altru officials to identify other areas for displaying art "campus-wide," said Sally Miskavige, a PAC board member.

Daphnae Koop, Minneapolis, who had several mixed media pieces on display, said that

"being part of a healing space, in an environment like this, is one of the best opportunities I can imagine."

PAC opens Art of Wellness Exhibit at Altru Professional Center

Bruce Gjovig’s art collection featured at public art exhibit

The Public Arts Commission (PAC) announces the opening of the “Art of Wellness” long-term art exhibition on March 21st  at Altru Professional Center (Door #14) on 4400 South Washington Street, Door #14, featuring part of the extensive art collection of Bruce Gjovig of Grand Forks.  The opening starts at 6:00 pm.


“We are pleased to announce the “Art of Wellness” exhibition that is comprised of a significant art collection by regional artists,” said Mike Kuntz, Chair of the Public Arts Commission (PAC). “Expanding the public arts offering in our community is a focus of PAC, and we are excited to team up with Bruce Gjovig - one of the state’s most prominent art collectors - and with Altru Health Systems to feature the artwork of some our region’s finest emerging and established artists.”


Bruce Gjovig, CEO Emeritus of the Center for Innovation Foundation has been collecting art for 35 years. He bought works of art from regional artists as he found great art available locally, especially through the North Dakota Museum of Art, the Nelson County Arts Council, O’Rourke Art Gallery, Arts on the Red, and The Art of Giving (TAG) art auctions.  “I appreciated the art, liked the artists, and wanted to encourage artists to do their art here,” he said.


Gjovig’s art is collection is known as the largest private art collection available for public view in North Dakota, perhaps in surrounding states as well.  His art collection was displayed at the Ina Mae Rude Entrepreneur Center from 2005 to 2018 to inspire innovation and creativity among startup entrepreneurs and students. 


Gjovig says, “For 13 years these works of art inspired the entrepreneur community, and now the artwork has new work to do to inspire Altru patients and our community to advance our public engagement with art”  He added, “Storing art makes no sense to me, as art is created to be seen and appreciated. Thus I am delighted to loan my art collection to PAC for a public exhibition. Grand Forks has been very good to me, and this is a way to give back to the make my community a better place to be, and Altru a more friendly place for patients and visitors.”


Gjovig added, “I cannot imagine a world without art.  Art often defines civilization, culture and a community. Ever notice how many people take a photo in front of a signature work of art when they visit a new city?“ 


PAC Board member, Barry Wilfahrt, said, “Philanthropic funding is always needed to make these cultural treasures more accessible to the public.  When Gjovig put his name on this collection and loaned it to PAC, he let everyone know what matters to him, what he believes in, and this sets the pace and standard for future public arts projects in Grand Forks. “


The Gjovig art collection at Altru features works by over 60 artists from North Dakota and Minnesota. The diverse collection of original works include paintings, sculpture, photography, mixed-media, and works on paper. Among the notable artists featured in the PAC exhibition are Adam Kemp, Walter Piehl, Ingrid Aubol Restemayer, Dave Badman, Patrick Luber, Zhimen Guan, Kathryn Vigesaa Lipke, Gretchen Kottke, Todd Hebert, Kelly Thompson, Bennet Brien, Casey Opstad, Madelyn Camrud, Scott Urness, and RJ Kern.


The exhibition opens with a reception on March 21, 2019 from 6:00-8:00 pm. It is free and open to the public. There will be light refreshments.  When Altru Professional Center is open, self-guided tours will be available during business hours. 


Meghan Compton, Altru’s Chief Legal Counsel and art collector, worked closely with PAC to provide appropriate display space for the  Art of Wellness exhibition.  She says, “Altru Health System appreciates that art provides an environment for healing as it uplifts the spirit of those who enter the Altru Professional Center. The exhibit will improve patient experience and likely the outcomes as well.  We hope this art exhibit will provide an environment to inspire hope, express thoughts and emotions that are hard to put into words, lower stress and anxiety, relax and calm, connect with ourselves at a deeper level, find meaning in life's experiences, cope with grief and loss, form new connections with others, shift focus away from pain and stress, and create a special place that is unique for wellness.”

The Public Arts Commission has Named New Executive Director

The Public Arts Commission (PAC) Board of Directors has named

Ra’Chel Alexander as their Executive Director.

Chairman of the Board Mike Kuntz said, “The PAC board has been searching for the right

Executive Director for over a year, and we have found the right candidate in Ra’Chel


Kuntz added, “Ra’Chel is an artist who has passion for the arts and been immersed in art for

several years. She was artistic coordinator for the Alley Alive project for the last two years and

an engaged artist and volunteer for Art & Wine Walk. She serves as President of ArtNest, a

nonprofit arts organization that provides resources for young artists through exhibits, studio

space, classes and events. Plus she has years working in business understanding the

importance of customer service, marketing, communications, budgets, and timelines. She will

bring an energetic entrepreneurial approach to taking PAC to the next level.”

Ra’Chel Alexander said, “I am excited to build upon the remarkable foundation established by

this volunteer board. I look forward to continuing the momentum to engage artists and the public

in my new role. We have a bright future with the support of artists, collectors, benefactors, and

community stakeholders. We have an opportunity to make Greater Grand Forks a leading public

art hub in the Northern Great Plains.”

The Executive Director oversees the development of public art projects, art exhibition programs

and cultural events and outreach to increase participation in the arts. PAC provides leadership

in the annual Art on the Red event in June, partners to organize the Art & Wine Walk,

coordinates the Mayor’s Art Award, provides the weekly PAC Events Email blast and is

coordinating several new public arts projects planned for 42 nd Street and downtown Grand


The Public Arts Commission (PAC) was formed as a nonprofit in 2014 to enhance public art

offerings in Greater Grand Forks to create a more vibrant cultural and artistic life for residents

and visitors. PAC is committed to building and exhibiting a collection of high-quality public art for

the enjoyment and enrichment of citizens and visitors as well as provide artists an opportunity to

show their work, create imaginative spaces, enliven the public realm, foster culture awareness

in the community, and to encourage the collection of art. PAC will provide a means by which

artists, collectors and organizations may exhibit artworks in public places in our region. PAC

completed a Arts & Culture Master Plan in 2015 that was presented to the city in 2016. PAC

conducted an inventory of public art in 2015 describing 162 works which started with the Grand

Army of the Republic monument on Belmont Road dedicated in 1913. PAC has an

eight-member board: Mike Kuntz (Chair), Ann Brown (Vice Chair) Barry Wilfahrt (Treas), Bruce

Gjovig, Sen. Curt Kreun, Bill Palmisicno, Bryan Hoime and Janice Hoffarth.