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Dr. Seuss And Ghost Signs: Public Art In Devils Lake

Updated: Sep 30, 2021

I’ve seen a lot of delightfully random public art combinations in my day. But the public art in Devils Lake, North Dakota boasts one of the oddest combos I’ve seen yet.

I was struck by this small city’s ghost murals the last time I visited. In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, a ghost sign is the faded image of an advertisement painted directly on a building. Ghost signs are part art, part ad and part time capsule, preserving the look and feel of the moment for posterity.

A ghost sign in Devils Lake

The sign above is a good example. It’s functional, not fancy, but it’s still visually appealing.

Ghost signs always make me a little nostalgic for typefaces of the past. It makes me wonder which fonts will be associated with the era we’re all living through right now.

An old Coca Cola sign anchors downtown Devils Lake, North Dakota.

I was in search of this Coca-Cola ghost mural at first. I’d photographed it before, but I wasn’t satisfied with it. I thought I might try it in different light.

After getting my shot, I figured I’d take a cursory look around and see what else I might be able to shoot. So imagine my surprise when I turned around, looked across the street and spotted not only the previous ghost sign, but also this riot of color.

The Dr. Seuss Mural in Devils Lake in one of my favorite murals in North Dakota.

Yep. That’s a Dr. Seuss quote. I’m officially charmed.

So either this mural wasn’t on the Engen Law Office the last time I visited Devils Lake or I was completely blind! Either way, it’s an excellent reminder to slow down and look around. You never know what surprises you might find hiding in plain sight.

What about you? What are your favorite ghost signs? Where should I look for public art and ghost signs next? How has a piece of public art surprised you?

Public art coverage is funded in part by a grant from The Arts Partnership.

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