In the South Loop:

2015 Demonstration Projects

In July 2013, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded Artistry a $100,000 “Our Town” matching grant to launch Creative Placemaking in the South Loop by preparing a long-term placemaking plan and commissioning a series of demonstration projects. Collectively, the projects are intended to demonstrate the power of artists, designers, and other members of our regional creative community to help transform the South Loop from a dispersed commercial area into a walkable urban neighborhood with a distinct identity and sense of connection among its diverse stakeholders.

For further documentation of the 2014 Discovery Charrette and 2015 Demonstration Projects, see the Creative Placemaking in the South Loop Plan Appendix

Project One: Discovery Charrette

The first project was a week-long Discovery Charrette filled with intensive planning, design, and community building activities that brought neighbors and other stakeholders together, some for the first time. From June 12 – 20, 2014, we invited regional artists; people who live, work, and lead businesses in the South Loop; shoppers and other South Loop visitors; and anyone else with an interest in the neighborhood’s future to participate in a range of fun and engaging events and activities. All activities were free and most were open to the public.

Projects Two Through Five

At a reception in the South Loop on November 18, 2014, we announced the selection of four additional projects for commissions in 2015. In recommending these projects from proposals submitted by 15 finalists, a jury of Artistry staff, City staff and officials, and public art experts sought projects that:

Additionally, the jury looked for projects that incorporate a variety of artistic disciplines/media; take place in locations throughout the South Loop; range from temporary to permanent; include different social and cultural perspectives of the South Loop; and take place during a variety of seasons.

Little Box Sauna
By Molly Reichert and Andrea Johnson
Project Hosts: Mall of America, Radisson Blu, and IKEA

Artists Molly Reichert and Andrea Johnson in front of Little Box Sauna
Photos available at:

Little Box Sauna graced the grounds of Radisson Blu Mall of America and IKEA for two weeks in late winter 2015. A new kind of "mobile hot spot," LBS provided a one-of-a-kind opportunity for employees and visitors to socialize in a way that is new to our community, based on Finnish and other cultural traditions. LBS was designed to support links between businesses and people to generate meaningful communication. For a brief time, it also helped to change perceptions of the South Loop's physical space. By inhabiting the spaces between large structures, Little Box Sauna became a destination on a smaller scale - a stopping place between buildings and cars.

After the Birds Taught Me to Fly
By PlaceBase Productions
Project Host: Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge

Actors and participants from After the Birds Taught Me to Fly at the MN Valley National Wildlife Refuge

In partnership with the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, PlaceBase Productions created After the Birds Taught Me to Fly: an original, site-specific, musical theater production that took place on the grounds of the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge during the Twin Cities Urban Bird Festival, June 5-7.

After the Birds Taught Me to Fly celebrated our community’s rich history and culture, supported the Refuge’s mission, and allowed people of all ages and abilities to create together. At the performances, participants and audience members walked through the Refuge from scene to scene in an approach PlaceBase calls “Walking Theater.”

Science and Nature Mural
By Erik Pearson
Project Host: Cypress Semi-Conductor

Detail from Erik Pearson's sketch for Science and Nature Mural

Starting in mid-July 2015, Erik Pearson will create a large exterior mural at the border of Cypress Semi-Conductor and the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge at the Bass Ponds parking lot. The mural will provide an artistic backdrop for everyone who fishes or hikes the trail throughout the year, helping to achieve the goal of connecting the South Loop with various ways into the Refuge.  Its design reflects the interconnections between science and nature, and how people continuously engage with both in the South Loop. Erik takes inspiration and images from the history of technology and semi-conductors in the South Loop as well as the potential for green technologies. The tech history and future vision are paired with images of the ecology and wildlife of the South Loop, expressing the unique blend of science and nature that have shaped the neighborhood’s past and will continue to impact its future.  

Ripple of Life
By Tom Henry

Field artist Tom Henry developed a proposal for a large earth installation comprising concentric circles of wheat, Russian sage, and sunflowers around a blue sphere. “Ripple of Life” would be viewable by pedestrians, Blue Line rail riders, and people flying into or out of the MSP International Airport.  Owing to the complexity of the project and the requirements of multiple partners involved, we were unable to move forward with Ripple of Life in 2015. We hope to work with Tom and neighborhood landholders to implement the project in the coming years of Creative Placemaking in the South Loop.