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Public Art Case Studies

Each step of the guide includes examples from three projects to provide you with a tangible example of Public Art Projects in Minnesota. Click the title of each to read the comprehensive summary for each project.

Return JourneyReturn Journey

Return Journey (as it later became known) started out as a community-initiated project to help a neighborhood keep a cherished icon and turn it into a landmark. Brackett Park in South Minneapolis was home to one of many mass-produced, large rocket-shaped playground climbing structures. Being a neighborhood with a strong history of community involvement and low turn over it seemed as though every resident had fond memories of playing in and around the "Brackett Rocket." When the city decided to renovate the playground they determined the structure unsafe and announced it would be torn down. The community, up in arms, formed a group of activists to "Save Our Rocket!" They formed the Rocket Boosters, and demanded that the park board not destroy their rocket. One idea was to turn it into a landmark piece of public art. The Boosters banded together to raise funds for the project, hired Forecast Public Art to facilitate the selection of an artist, and after a lengthy design and approval process (the structure could no longer be climbed on), artist Randy Walker completed the project, entitled Return Journey, transforming the play structure into a rocket ship that is taking off, celebrating the power of imagination and honoring the object's history.

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1000 Print SummerSanford Center

The Sanford Center (formerly the Bemidji Regional Event Center) is a state-funded conference center and hockey arena for the city of Bemidji and Bemidji State University. Because of a state percent-for-art mandate, the city was allowed to dedicate a small portion of the overall project budget to artwork integrated into the building. The city hired Forecast Public Art as a consultant to review the building plans, evaluate potential sites, make recommendations on appropriate types of projects and facilitate the artist selection process. The most impactful site was the 20,000 square foot floor of the event center, which was designed to be terrazzo, and the other sites were the air space above the entrances to the building. Two artists—Barb Keith and Alexander Tylevich—were eventually selected—one to design terrazzo floor and one to create two suspended sculptures for the entryways. The floor is one of the largest public art projects in the state. 

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1000 Print Summer1,000 Print Summer

Artist Dave Machacek and a small organization called ArtOrg received a grant from Forecast Public Art to create a project called 1,000 Print Summer. Machacek facilitated printmaking workshops at public festivals throughout the state, using a small steamroller as a printing press.  Participants received the print that they made on site and ArtOrg kept the printing blocks. The goal was to create 1,000 prints throughout the summer, and documenting each print and creator on their website. There was so much enthusiasm for the project they exceeded their goal. The following year they used the blocks to create a giant fabric mural temporarily installed at St. Olaf College in Northfield (one of the largest prints ever made).

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Featured Article

SERVICE MEDIA: Community as Collaborator

How can artists engage others beyond the accepted aesthetic norms of public art? This engaging and collaborative form of public art, which I call "service media," is very different from typical group object-building art workshops, not to mention the simple plopping of a statue on the square. And it is gaining ground.

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Featured Term

What is art in public places?

Art in Public Places: It is useful to distinguish art in public places — art simply placed in a public setting — from “public art,” a practice that thoughtfully and effectively considers the context for art in public.

to learn about more public art terms click here to go to glossary