Creative placemaking is where art plays an intentional, integrated role in place-based community planning and development. Creating placemaking honors the existing assets, history and character of a place. Community engagement is a vital element.
Until 2023, Bloomington's creative placemaking efforts were mostly focused in the South Loop District, including:
- Public art
- Performances, workshops and capacity-building efforts for local artists
- Temporary art and pop-ups
- An artful community garden
- Support of the Small Business Center
Creative Placemaking in the South Loop goals include:
- Urbanism: Ensure urban design excellence in transforming the built environment.
- Animation: Animate public spaces and strengthen the social and cultural fabric.
- Involvement: Involve and empower people who inhabit and care about the South Loop.
- Identity: Elevate and project South Loop's identity.
- Leadership: Build capacity to sustain leadership and champions.
- Investment: Attract new development and foster the creative sector.
Download the free Otocast App on your smartphone to access the South Loop Public Art Audio Tour and take a self-guided tour to learn more about the art and artists.
- Use the location-based app to find and interact with over 35 public art points of interest in the South Loop.
- Detailed descriptions, photos, directions, and audio clips, including artist interviews, tell the stories behind the artwork you visit.
- Visit 10 public art locations and receive a badge and a prize package, including a $30 gift card to a South Loop restaurant, reusable stainless steel metal straws from the Bloomington Convention & Visitors Bureau, and a South Loop backpack, hat, water bottle, and notepad/pen. (Limited prize packages are currently still available.)
Recent Projects and Events
Previously, we hosted an on-site engagement event, participated in community meetings and met with stakeholders to gather feedback about how to develop this vacant lot located at 2255 E Old Shakopee Rd, next to the new Fire Station #3. The most popular ideas included native landscaping, a community garden, and seating. After gathering feedback about draft designs, the site was under construction in 2023, and includes these components. Artful banners were created through a cyanotype process, by Sheila Novak and Dakota artist Erin Genia. They collected different elements from the natural world such as plants, and incorporated the traditional Dakota symbol Anpa O Wičahnpi, which is the morningstar symbol, to awaken wonder, and to reflect this place as Dakota homelands.
Plots will open in spring 2024, with parking reserved in the Homewood Church lot. Learn more about the City's Community Garden plots.
The goal of Hometown Poetry is to celebrate art and literature and integrate it into our communities, highlight the talent of Bloomington writers, and bring a sense of surprise, delight, and contemplation to pedestrians. Sidewalk stamps and creative sign installations will display the poems of Bloomington residents. Learn more and view a map of installed projects.
The WE Mural was curated and produced by Ua Si Creative. Artists: Andrés Guzmán and Xee Reiter, City Mischief featuring Thomasina Topbear and Tom Jay, Marlena Myles, Martzia Thometz, Reggie LeFlore, and Ua Si Creative.
Ua Si Creative coordinated the artistic team members who completed a series of murals located on two walls surrounding an Xcel Energy substation facing American Boulevard and 30th Avenue South. Installation took place throughout August and September, 2021, with a Sunset Block Party to celebrate the completion. Learn more about the WE Mural here.
Thank you to the following partners for their support: Forecast Public Art, McGough, Metro Transit and Xcel Energy.
The Goldfinch, by artist Donald Lipski will help create a more distinctive sense of place and identity, while providing an opportunity to surprise and delight those who live, work, and visit South Loop. The design was inspired by the 250+ migratory birds that pass through the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. The theme of flight and migration was also an element when considering the diverse population of South Loop and the nearby international airport. The sculpture is located at the southeast corner of the intersection of Killebrew Drive and Old Shakopee Road, near Refuge trail heads, and next to a trail connection. The community was previously invited to vote on which local songbird should be represented, and American Goldfinch was the clear winner. This project was installed in December, 2021.
In the Creative Spark program, we invite artists and others to propose and implement creative ideas within the South Loop. Stakeholder panels have reviewed and selected projects that enhance and activate South Loop and engage residents, workers, and visitors in creative ways that could be temporary, experiential, semi-permanent, or permanent.
2021 selected proposals were sculptures all installed in the Bloomington Central Station Park area:
- "Kalopsia" bench, by Daniela Bianchini
- "Blooming Ribbon," by Kao Lee Thao
- "Street Seat," by Greg Mueller
- "The Hand Sculpture" by Safa Sarvestani and Shirin Ghoraishi
2019 selected proposals:
- "An Owl's Perspective," a temporary 3D sculpture in the shape of a great horned owl, to be installed at the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Visitors helped construct this sculpture during the Urban Birding Festival. Artist: Gail Katz-James.
- Summer Music Concert featuring Hailey James and The Tuxedo Band, at Bloomington Central Station Park. Coordinated by Reflections Condominiums social committee.
- Free standing temporary "pop up" murals, located at Bloomington Central Station Park. Artist: Rock Martinez.
- Bloomington Cultural Festival, at the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center. Coordinated by Together Bloomington.
Please download the free Otocast App to access our South Loop Audio Tour and view project images and information.
Old Shakopee Road & Old Cedar Avenue is a gateway to our community, with great businesses and access to nature. The City of Bloomington worked with local businesses at this key commercial center to provide resources for small-scale improvements that help make this area even more welcoming and appealing, and build momentum toward public realm investments in the future. We coordinated a "Colors of Community" pop-up event in October 2022 to highlight local businesses and bring neighbors together and worked with 6 local businesses on improvements such as a custom bench, signage, and more. Learn more: Old Shakopee & Old Cedar Placemaking | Let's Talk Bloomington (bloomingtonmn.gov)
ARTBOXES consist of wrapped utility boxes in designs by local artists. Some also include sculptural elements. These creative, exciting, and appealing objects of art create a free outdoor gallery and enhance the district’s character and vitality.
As many other communities have discovered, transforming utility boxes into vehicles for artistic expression has produced several benefits: reducing graffiti, beautifying neighborhoods, improving walkability, and creating elements of surprise and delight.
Completed ARTBOX projects are by the following artists:
- Teresa M. Cox
- Erik Sletten
- Jesse Golfis
- Mandel Cameron
- Olivia Novotny
- Jose Rebollo
- Robyn Brower
- John C. Gerber
- Shakuntala Maheshwari
- Luis Fitch
- Leah Yellowbird
Please download the free Otocast App to access our South Loop Audio Tour and view locations, images and information for all Artboxes.
Bloomington and Artistry worked with artists Nancy Musinguzi and Adam Davis-McGee/AxS GRNTD on a virtual Augmented Reality (AR) Tour of the Old Cedar Avenue Bridge over Long Meadow Lake (9898 Old Cedar Ave S, Bloomington).
Within the Old Cedar Avenue Bridge, visitors will be able to unlock exclusive AR experiences available for immediate use in Snapchat. This AR Tour is an informative and entertaining experience inspired by the legacy and surroundings of the bridge. Some of the themes include historical information and dates, selfie wings highlighting local birds and butterflies, and flags representing the diversity of Bloomington. The project was installed in November of 2019.
The City of Bloomington commissioned a mural on the retaining wall that runs alongside State Highway 77/Cedar Avenue and faces Old Cedar Avenue and Wright’s Lake Park. This mural is part of the City’s neighborhood emphasis program in this area, and the City and our partner Artistry’s creative placemaking efforts. We worked with GoodSpace Murals to produce the Seasons of Becoming mural, due to their artistic expertise, extensive experience, community engagement process, and bilingual staff.
Three design visioning sessions in 2017 and 2018 inspired the design, a design presentation collected feedback, and seven painting parties took place in May and June 2019 throughout Bloomington, where the community helped paint on canvas sheets later adhered to the wall. Students from Valley View Middle School participated throughout the process, including a photo shoot where they served as models for the mural, and a ribbon cutting celebration in October 2018 to commemorate the completion of the mural.
James Brenner designed and installed Convergence, a sculpture in the roundabout at the intersection of Lindau Lane and 28th Avenue near Mall of America. Brenner also designed the landscape surrounding the sculpture, which was unveiled August 20, 2015. Convergence is a landmark in a developing corridor that intersects pedestrian, automotive, and light rail traffic. The LED lighting illuminates the sculpture at night, and represents the three primary stakeholders of South Loop - residents, workers, and visitors.