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Published July 18 2012

Fargo artist turns Gene’s TV Clinic into studio

FARGO – A section of Main Avenue in Fargo just got a little greener – and more green is on the way.

The former Gene’s TV Clinic at 1338 Main Ave. is now an art studio and storage facility for Fargo artist Marjorie Schlossman.

She purchased the property in late 2011, adding a garden behind the building and bringing some vegetation to a sea of asphalt in that part of town.

The idea for the site was “what a contrast to have an oasis of green” there on Main Avenue, Schlossman said.

Ryan Hoss of Baker Garden and Gift designed the garden, which is graced with grass, stone slabs, flowers and shrubs.

“It’s her little piece of paradise,” Hoss said.

But the green doesn’t stop with the garden. The building itself is surrounded by black wire mesh that will serve as a trellis, allowing vines to grow along the sides of the simple box-like structure.

“I thought it’d be gorgeous,” said Schlossman, who, in addition to being a visual artist, plays violin for the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony.

When the vegetation has grown in, it will give the building the look of a large hedge.

That vegetative coat will serve as a protective layer and make the facility more ecologically friendly, said Richard Moorhead of Image Group Architecture and Interiors. He served as the architect and designer on the building.

The uniform covering will also complement the simple form of the building.

The building is “not wanting to call attention to itself, and at the same time it doesn’t want to be unimaginative or uninteresting,” Moorhead said. “And so given that set of conditions, what do you do? Those are mutually exclusive ideas. So this building tries to make a statement by bridging those mutually exclusive ideas by being so simple that, as an architectural element, it’s almost a non-entity. It’s more of a landscape feature than an architectural feature if you will.”

There are no traditional windows in the structure. Instead, it is equipped with a clerestory window structure.

It’s essentially a “large cube of windows on top of the building,” Moorhead said. The window structure is “transparent on the north to bring in clear north light and translucent on the other side so that you keep out the harsh direct light coming into the space.”

Like the exterior of the building, the studio space is simple.

“Everything was done to keep it just as simple and uncluttered as possible so that the art that she’s working on is the most important thing in the space,” Moorhead said.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t any fun incorporated into the interior. The storage area includes a room that looks like an enormous shipping crate. It’s marked “fragile.”

“And you open that up and inside of that is probably the most contemporary modern bathroom you’ve ever seen.” Moorhead said. “It’s an otherworldly kind of bathroom space inside a shipping container.”

The simplicity of the site appeals to Schlossman, as does its uniqueness.

“I think it might make a bit of a statement,” she said.

While the face of the building and grounds has changed and will continue to do so as the vegetation grows, a couple of things are staying the same. She’s going to continue to call it Gene’s. And the old sign out front? That’s staying, too.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Shane Mercer at (701) 451-5734