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Pretty in pink: Fargo woman gives her snow a new look

Stevie Famulari sprays the snowbanks in the front yard of her north Fargo home with pink paint. David Samson / The Forum

It looks like Stevie Famulari of Fargo lives in Candy Land - her front yard, Queen Frostine's frothy pink ice cream sea.

But it's not ice cream or cotton candy that billows over her boulevard at 620 10th Ave. N. Famulari's front yard is piled with the same stuff that fills every other yard in town. Only her snow is pink.

Famulari is an environmental artist and a landscape architecture professor at North Dakota State University.

She changes the color of her snow with each new layer that falls. She plans to paint the next snowfall a purplish blue and the one after that will be black.

She chose her colors to become darker as the season progresses. When the snow melts, she expects the older layers to be revealed.

"It'll be a beautiful rainbow when it comes back," she said. "Happily, I don't expect it to melt at the same rate so the front of the yard may reveal the pinks or the purples sooner, the back of the yard will still be the blacks and the blues."

Famulari is avoiding yellow, "for obvious reasons," she said, and she's avoiding green because lawns are green every other time of the year. Well, at least other peoples' lawns are green every other time of the year.

This is the first time Famulari has painted her snow, but her yard is always changing. Last year she painted her grass in a checkerboard pattern. The year before that, she sculpted crop circle patterns into her grass.

Becca Murphy of Oxbow, N.D., helped Famulari dream up the color scheme for her project.

"It's fun. It's different. It's better than looking at plain, old white snow," Murphy said. "It's so cool that she has the guts to do it. She doesn't care what anyone thinks, and she shouldn't. It's her yard, and it's not hurting anybody."

Famulari said paint reveals the snow's form.

"When the snow is white and it's piled everywhere, you forget to notice it," she said.

She also paints snow to get people talking about its sheer quantity, she said.

"Canada does these snow sculptures, and Minnesota does these snow symposiums. Other places sculpt this stuff, and we pile it," Famulari said. "We shove it aside as if it doesn't exist. We need to celebrate it."

Famulari uses nontoxic water-based paint and a weed sprayer to paint the snow. It takes about two hours and because the colors fade, she occasionally has to repaint it.

She said it will not harm the environment and because it fades, and she does not expect to clean up a mess in the spring.

Famulari borrowed the weed sprayer from her colleague, David G. Swenson, an associate professor of art at NDSU.

"Instead of shoveling it, it kind of makes a celebration of it," he said. "I think it's great. I think more people should do it."

Drivers slow down to look at the colorful snow, and people make a point of walking their dogs by to see it, Famulari said.

She has gotten some looks of disgust, but the dog walkers say it's a nicer place to walk by and some people are happy to have the change in pace, she said.

"Either way, it causes controversy and it causes people to talk and talking causes change," she said. "Like it or hate it, at least it's discussed."