Black Gold Boom Public Art Campaign Brings Oil Rush Stories to Community Hotspots

B&J distributors

"Is that you?"

That's the first question that customers ask Bryan Johnson when they spot the Black Gold Boom poster hanging in B&J Distributors. Offering fire-resistant clothing and private mailbox rental, his Watford City store caters to the oil workers who have streamed to North Dakota in recent months.

The poster is part of a public art campaign that Localore producer Todd Melby has mounted with Prairie Public Broadcasting to take reporting on the boom out into the community. Each large-scale portrait by award-winning photographer Ben Garvin features a person living and working in oil country who appears in one of Melby's stories.

Smart phone users can scan a QR code on the poster to listen to the piece. Hear Johnson on how traffic in Watford City has gotten worse than the jams he saw as an LA cop:

Customers without smart phones ask him to tell them the story anyhow, which he says gets better with each repetition. How long does he plan to keep the poster up? "Until it falls down," Johnson says.

Learn more about the other poster locations—and catch up with Melby's latest stories—on the Black Gold Boom site.


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