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Creative Placemaking in the South Loop

Creative Placemaking in the South Loop is an initiative of the City of Bloomington and Artistry. Creative Placemaking is an evolving field that works to build vibrant, distinctive, and sustainable communities through the arts. It engages the community, artists, and other stakeholders in building social fabric and local economies while making physical, place-based improvements, leveraging the distinctive character and creative and cultural resources of each place.

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.

View a South Loop map with permanent public art project locations.

Check out Bloomington Convention and Visitors Bureau's recommendations for an itinerary of public art in South Loop.

View a brief video tour of South Loop public art.

Have you attended or participated in a creative placemaking event, or visited public art? Please share your thoughts at!


South Loop Creative Placemaking Projects

Old Cedar Bridge AR Tour

Old Cedar Bridge AR by Nancy Musinguzi and AxS GRNTD

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. 

Inside the app, users focus the camera on the snapcode then press and hold. Once these snapcodes are scanned, users can engage with a delightfully informative and shareable AR experiences. By digitally transforming parts of the bridge’s structure into “time portals” visitors will be able to explore and share innovative content.

The project was installed in November of 2019.

South Loop Sculpture

Songbird Perched on a Sign, South Loop Sculpture design by Donald Lipski. Subject to change.

Songbird Perched on a Sign, South Loop Sculpture design by Donald Lipski. Subject to change.

Bloomington’s Creative Placemaking Commission in partnership with Artistry previously invited experienced public artists to submit qualifications for the design and installation of a unique large-scale sculpture, which will be placed within the South Loop. The sculpture will create a more distinctive sense of place and identity and may reflect the South Loop while providing an opportunity to surprise and delight those who visit, work and live in the South Loop.

We received 151 applications in response to this RFQ. Our panel selected, and Creative Placemaking Commission approved, three artists to move forward with proposal presentations in May, 2019. The three finalists were: Donald Lipski, Karl Unnasch, and Blessing Hancock.

After the presentations, and consideration of feedback from the Creative Placemaking Commission, a conservator, and stakeholders, the panel selected Donald Lipski as the artist. The Creative Placemaking Commission and City Council then approved this selection.

Thank you to our South Loop Sculpture panel for their time and expertise. Additional thanks to stakeholders (residents and businesses) who provided input during this process.

The sculpture will consist of a South Loop sign with an oversized songbird perched on top, and will be located at the south east corner of the intersection of Killebrew Drive and Old Shakopee Road. The design was inspired by the 250+ migratory birds that pass through the MN Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Read more about the design and location here.

The community was invited to vote on which local songbird should be represented, and American Goldfinch was the clear winner.

Installation is anticipated in spring of 2021.

South Loop Mural

South Loop Mural, West Facing Wall

The City of Bloomington’s Creative Placemaking Commission and Artistry in partnership with Forecast Public Art have invited selected candidates to submit proposals for the design concept and the formation of the artistic team members who will complete a South Loop Mural on two sides of the Xcel substation wall that meet at the corner of American Boulevard and 30th Avenue South. See Request for Proposals here.

The three finalists will present design concept proposals to a stakeholder panel. The panel will select one proposal.

Due to COVID-19, the timeline, proposal presentation process, and selection dates have been modified. The Panel will select a proposal in April. Installation is planned for 2021.

Fire Station #3 Project

Let's Imagine Together logo

The City of Bloomington’s Creative Placemaking Commission in partnership with Artistry is planning a creative placemaking project on the property next to the future new Fire Station #3. Learn more about the fire station timeline and process here.

We hosted an on-site event in October, 2018 to gather thoughts and feedback from neighbors. We continued to discuss ideas at a neighborhood watch meeting, and individually with different stakeholders. The most popular ideas include native landscaping, a community garden, and seating. Staff is exploring the feasibility of these projects. We plan to initiate installation after construction of the fire station.

Let's Imagine Together, onsite meeting location map

Let's Imagine Together, onsite meeting location map

Creative Spark

Pop Up Murals by Rock Martinez, Creative Spark project

In summer of 2018, we released a call for Creative Spark Project proposals by creative people of all kinds (artists, architects, event organizers, South Loop residents, performers, etc.) who are interested and excited about activating the South Loop. We offered a chance to learn more at Bat Week, and two information sessions. Applicants could present their own ideas and request a stipend of $500-5,000 to help fund their idea. (View the original guidelines here in English, Español, or Soomaali.)

A Creative Spark Projects review panel looked for projects that would engage South Loop residents, workers, and visitors in creative ways that could be temporary, experiential, semi-permanent, or permanent. Ideas could include (but were not limited to) performances, interactive art projects, temporary art installations, special events and much more. Projects were required to take place in four identified sites in South Loop. 36 proposals were received, and four were selected.

The four selected proposals for 2019 were:

  • "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 (3815 American Blvd E, Bloomington), beginning in May 18, 2019 through 2020. 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 on June 21, 2019 from 5:30 - 8:00 PM. Coordinated by Reflections Condominiums social committee.

  • Free standing temporary "pop up" murals, located at Bloomington Central Station Park (8100 33rd Ave. S., Bloomington), starting in August, through October, 2019. Artist: Rock Martinez.

  • Bloomington Cultural Festival, at the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center (3815 American Blvd E, Bloomington), on October 12, 1:00 - 4:00 PM. Coordinated by Together Bloomington.

ARTBOX Projects

2016 ARTBOX deisgn by Jesse Golfis
2016 ARTBOX deisgn by Jesse Golfis

Bloomington’s Creative Placemaking Commission in partnership with Artistry are working with local artists to transform common utility boxes in South Loop into ARTBOXES - creative, exciting, and appealing objects of art that enhance the district’s character and vitality. 

Artists play with the three-dimensional rectangular shape of the box, respond to the specific location, or reflect the past, present or future of the South Loop District. Some boxes also incorporate sculptural elements or extensions. As many other communities have discovered, transforming utility boxes into vehicles for artistic expression has produced several benefits: reducing graffiti, beautifying neighborhoods, and creating elements of surprise and delight.

ARTBOX projects include: 2 boxes at Killebrew Drive & 22nd Avenue by artist Teresa M. Cox; 5 boxes at Lindau Lane & 30th Avenue by artist Erik Sletten; and 1 box at E. Old Shakopee Road & 28th Avenue by artist Jesse Golfis; 1 box at Thunderbird Road and American Boulevard by Mandel Cameron; 1 box at Lindau Lane and 24th Avenue by Olivia Novotny.

Creative Happy Hour


3D South Loop Mural, by Rock Martinez

3D Mural, by Rock Martinez

We have hosted two free creative happy hour events in the past at Bloomington Central Station Park. Past events have included live music, food trucks, cash bar, creative interactive activities, a mini art workshop, outdoor games, and temporary pop up murals by Rock Martinez.

The 2019 Creative Happy Hour took place on Thursday, August 15 from 5-7 PM at Bloomington Central Station Park (8100 33rd Ave S, Bloomington 55425). Learn more. Due to COVID-19 and social distance guidelines, we canceled the 2020 event.

Wright's Lake Park Community Mural

Wright's Lake Park Mural, by GoodSpace Murals

Wright's Lake Park Mural, detail, by GoodSpace Murals

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 mural, due to their artistic expertise, extensive experience, community engagement process, and bilingual staff. View a map of the mural location and the full design concept sketch of the mural.

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.

View videos of the process and celebration.

Parking Ramp Project

Parking Ramp Project from Aniccha Arts, Photo: Zoe Cinel

Parking Ramp Project by Aniccha Arts, Photo: Zoe Cinel

On September 29 and 30, 2018, Aniccha Arts premiered a performance installation at South Loop, inside the HealthPartners seven-level parking garage. The project asked questions about transience, migration, and stability in a space that temporarily stores cars and is home to nothing. Performers pervaded the parking structure with their bodies, working against the visible slant of the ramp to find their individual verticality. Audiences experienced the performance within the geometry of the setting sun, as the ramp turned into a theater with live sound and a tactile score.

Learn more:

This activity was made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council arts and cultural heritage fund, the Map Fund, Guggenheim Fellowship, and contributions by individual donors.

Additional support from: City of Bloomington Creative Placemaking Commission, Artistry, McGough,

Making it Public Workshop


Making it Public

In June, 2018, we offered a free, 2 day intensive workshop designed for artists of any discipline who are interested in exploring how to make their artwork public. Eligible applicants were individual artists new to working in public art, and preference was given to Bloomington and Southwest metro artists. Workshops covered topics including site analysis, community engagement, funding, project management, best practices, and project ideation. The workshop was facilitated by Jen Krava from Forecast Public Art, with guest speakers, and is a product of and facilitated by Forecast Public Art with generous support from the City of Bloomington and Artistry.

Forecast received the most applications it had ever received for this workshop – 47 individuals applied. Originally, 20 were to be accepted, but Forecast extended the number to 33 accepted artists, with 42% from Bloomington or the South/Southwest Metro.

Illuminate South Loop

Score! by Daily tous les jours
Score! by Daily tous les jours

City of Bloomington and Artistry in partnership with Northern are proud to present Illuminate South Loop, a free, three-day art event at Bloomington Central Station Park (8100 33rd Ave S) in South Loop from February 1 – February 3, 2018. The event was a unique addition to the lineup of activities leading up to Super Bowl LII, showcasing a variety of participatory art installations and performances designed and produced by Minnesota and international artists. This outdoor evening experience also included bonfires, and delectable eats and warm drinks from Urbana Craeft Kitchen, capturing the interest of locals and guests alike. More information:

View a video summary of Illuminate South Loop here.

Illuminate South Loop Artists included Minnesota-Based: Alyssa Baguss, Eric William Carroll and Wil Natzel, Coffee House Press, Ben Moren, Plus/And (Amanda Lovelee and Emily Stover), Robin Schwartzman, Pramila Vasudevan, Pedro Lander, Emily Gastineau, and DaNCEBUMS. As well as: Daily Tous Les Jours (Montreal), Marina Zurkow and Paul Paradiso (New York)

Creative Engagement Activities


In 2017, City of Bloomington and Artistry coordinated a series of fun, creative engagement activities as part of our creative placemaking efforts. We worked with Springboard for the Arts and their Ready Go mobile engagement tools facilitated by artists. We also offered a brief survey and an interactive poster with different creative placemaking project examples to understand what people are most excited to see in South Loop. Activities took place during events throughout Bloomington, such as the Farmer's Market, Normandale Band Shell Arts in the Park, Heritage Days, Bat Week Celebration at the MN Valley National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, a Creative Happy Hour Event and bus tour at Bloomington Central Park, and Fire Station #3 open house.

We heard from over 300 people. The creative projects people were most excited to see in South Loop included: festivals, music, gathering places, amphitheater, sculpture park, and creative benches.

Art Gate

Art Gate by Alexander Tylevich (installation), photo credit City of Bloomington
Installation of Art Gate by Alexander Tylevich

"Bloomington Kaleidoscope," and Art Gate, by sculptor Alexander Tylevich, is located on the property of TownePlace Suites at 2500 Lindau Lane, Bloomington MN, near the corner of 24th Avenue and Lindau Lane across from Mall of America. The six-foot tall, 20-foot long bronze and steel sculpture is an artistic interpretation of South Loop's important role as an international travel destination and represents the area’s wildlife, natural beauty and diversity. This gate will serve as a fully functional emergency gate and will create an interactive point of interest, making the area more walkable, inviting, and attractive.

Landform Art

Landform by Tom Henry, photo credit City of Bloomington
Landform by Tom Henry

"Across the Universe," landform art by Tom Henry is a creative landscaping and art installation on the medians between Country Inn & Suites and Killebrew Drive. Plants include native perennials and annuals which allow for seasonal changes. The layouts create whimsical views for pedestrians, as well as for viewers from above. The artist considered water runoff and drainage in his design, and how the medians will be of great benefit for foraging “Blu bees” from the Radisson Blu and Country Inn & Suites's rooftop beehives. A stainless steel reflective globe was installed in the east median, representing a drop of water nourishing the field of beauty. These globes also make gardens healthier through electroculture. Electrolysis was used to achieve the vivid blue color of the sphere, adding more color to the area year-round.

Science and Nature Mural

South Loop Mural by Erik Pearson

Erik Pearson, the artist who painted the Bloomington Civic Plaza mural, created a mural reflecting the connections of science, technology and nature at Cypress Semiconductor bordering the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge at the Bass Ponds parking lot.  The mural was unveiled August 27, 2015.

Watch videos showing the development of the mural on our Facebook page.


Convergence sculpture

Convergence Sculpture by James Brenner. Photo credit: Bruce Silcox

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.

Brenner was featured in the January 3, 2016, episode of MN Original, tpt's weekly arts series celebrating Minnesota’s creative community. The last half of the video features the Convergence sculpture being planned, created and unveiled.


After the Birds Taught Me To Fly

Scene from After the Birds Taught Me To Fly
© 2015 Bruce Silcox

This one-­of‐a­‐kind production was staged on the grounds and walking-‐trails of the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. The audience moved together from scene to scene in a style of mobile theater PlaceBase Productions has coined “Walking Theater.” The original production was performed during the Twin Cities Urban Bird Festival, June 5-­7, 2015, to celebrate the rich history, culture, and local talent of the area and to support the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge’s mission.


Little Box Sauna

Little Box Sauna
© 2015 Bruce Silcox

Little Box Sauna, by Molly Reichert and Andrea Johnson, is a mobile warming house that creates a visible, small-scale space for socializing. The sauna traveled through the South Loop in February and March of 2015. A new kind of "mobile hot spot," Little Box Sauna provided a one-of-a-kind opportunity for employees and visitors to socialize in a way that is new to the community, based on Finnish and other cultural traditions.

MinnPost article: Public urban saunas offer a double liberation from cramped Minnesota winters


South Loop Discovery Charrette

South Loop Creative Placemaking, Charrette, Photo: Bruce Silcox
South Loop Creative Placemaking, charette event, Photo: Bruce Silcox

Creative Placemaking launched in June, 2014 at the Mall of America (MOA) and Bloomington Central Station with a community charrette that included walking tours, exploring the area’s history, identifying promising public art sites, idea-sharing, art-making and a competition for creative ideas for the district. More than 200 people attended the opening day events hosted by MOA. The day culminated in a launch party hosted by City of Bloomington Mayor Gene Winstead, Artistry Executive Director Andrea Specht and MOA’s Public Relations Director Dan Jasper.


City-wide Creative Placemaking Projects

106th Street Underpass Mural and Lighting

The City of Bloomington Creative Placemaking Commission, in partnership with Artistry, invites experienced public artists/teams from Minnesota to submit qualifications for the design and installation of a unique mural and lighting feature for the newly constructed 35W bridge over 106th Street underpass. The mural and lighting feature will engage and revitalize the neighborhood with a creative focal-point while also making the area more welcoming to pedestrian.

The RFQ and application was available via the CaFE™ call for art platform  strating on July 8. The deadline to apply was August 3, 2020. A panel reviewed and ranked the RFQ applications. Four finalists were selected to present proposals to another stakeholder panel in February, 2021. The selected artist/team will then proceed with public engagement and preparing a final design. The anticipated installation date will be coordinated with construction in the area, with a current target of 2022.

Neighborhood Focus Area - 86th St/Nicollet Ave

Nicollet & 86th intersection

As part of the City of Bloomington's neighborhood focus initiative, and Bloomington and Artistry's Creative Placemaking efforts, the intersection of 86th Street East and Nicollet Avenue was identified as a potential site for a few small creative projects to enhance the area. This intersection is embedded within a primarily residential neighborhood, along the 86th Street bike path, consists of four transit stops that are well-utilized, and close to senior housing, businesses, and schools.

We began the process by gathering input from people who live or work near this area. The goals are that the selected project(s) will visually enhance the area and improve the pedestrian experience. An initial survey provided preliminary information and direction to get a better idea of what creative project people would like to see here. View a summary of survey responses. We reviewed the survey summary at our first meeting, and discussed the top ranked projects.

Our next meeting took place on December 10, 5:30 - 7:30 at the Health Partners Clinic (8600 Nicollet Ave S Bloomington, MN 55420). Read more details here.

The committee of stakeholders selected prioritized project(s), which included creative wayfinding signs. Staff are now exploring the feasibility of projects. Please subscribe to the Creative Placemaking email list to stay updated.

Art Chat - Gateway District Art Spaces

Art Chat - Gateway District Art Space Research

The City of Bloomington and Artistry in partnership with Springboard for the Arts coordinated an event in July, 2019 called Art Chat, where we invited artists and creative workers to share what type of artist spaces they would like to see in Bloomington, specifically along Lyndale Avenue in the Gateway Development District. We also distributed a survey to gauge interest in potential future spaces for artists. 

We shared survey responses with the consultant, Stantec, who are working on researching and developing a redevelopment plan for the Gateway District. They can help determine the feasibility of these types of spaces in this district, and perhaps identify developers who would be interested in pursuing this type of development. Here is a video with more info about our efforts. Download a summary of all responses here.

Stay up to date on Lyndale Avenue Retrofit efforts.

Creative Placemaking in the news

Articles and Videos