$1 Million Art Walk Brings Public Sculpture to Minneapolis

A rendering of the $1 million “art walk” featuring emerging artists that will be added to Minneapolis's Nicollet Mall. Photo: James Corner Field Operations.
A rendering of the $1 million “art walk” featuring emerging artists that will be added to Minneapolis's Nicollet Mall. Photo: James Corner Field Operations.

Minneapolis has announced a new $1 million public art initiative for the 12-block–long Nicollet Mall, a major avenue for pedestrians and traffic at the city’s cultural and commercial center, reports Finance and Commerce.

The mall already boasts the second largest public art collection in the city, after the Walker Art Center‘s Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, with 16 multiple-component works providing pedestrians with a total of 109 art locations to enjoy along their walk. Even the manhole covers get in on the action, with 75 decorated with relief sculptures depicting Minnesota wildlife.

The new initiative, approved by the City Council’s transportation and public works committee, will build on a collection that includes work by some of the region’s “most significant public artists and artists of color,” as Minneapolis public arts administrator Mary Altman told Finance and Commerce.

The hope is to add a major focal point to the mall, which currently lacks a signature piece. (An ice fountain installed in the 1980s to serve that function never worked properly, and has since been decommissioned.) Additionally, the city is interested in enlisting younger emerging artists, to complement its currently featured older artists.

Four pieces will be commissioned for a two-block long art walk showcase, with $500,000 earmarked for what Minneapolis hopes will become an iconic work. One lead artist will oversee the project, ensuring that it is integrated with the rest of the mall’s art.

Many of the mall’s existing artworks, from artists such as George Morrison, Seitu Jones, and Ta-coumba T. Aiken, will be temporarily removed as it undergoes a $50 million overhaul, overseen by New York-based project designers James Corner Field Operations. A public art committee comprising the Downtown Council, the business improvement district, and James Corner Field Operations, will evaluate the collection to determine which pieces will stay and which will go.

A call for submissions will begin this month, and selections will be announced in the spring.


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