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Creative Placemaking in the South Loop

Creative Placemaking in the South Loop is a project 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.

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


Creative Placemaking Projects

Creative Spark

Creative Placemaking South Loop Projects and Activities

Creative Placemaking South Loop Projects and Activities

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 are:

  • "An Owl's Persepctive," 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 through October. Visitors helped construct this sculpture during the Urban Birding Festival.  Event details. Artist: Gail Katz-James.

  • A music concert featuring Hailey James and The Tuxedo Band, to take place at Bloomington Central Station Park on June 21, 2019 from 5:30 - 8:00 PM. Rain Date: Wednesday, June 26, 5:30 - 8:00 PM. Coordinated by Reflections Condominiums social committee. Event details.

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

  • Bloomington Cultural Festival, to take place 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.

Old Cedar Bridge AR Tour

Old Cedar Bridge AR by Nancy Musinguzi and AxS GRNTD

Bloomington and Artistry are working with artists Nancy Musinguzi and AxS GRNTD on a virtual Augmented Reality (AR) Tour of the Old Cedar Bridge.

Within the Old Cedar Bridge, visitors will be able to unlock exclusive AR experiences available for immediate use in Snapchat. 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 is anticipated to be unveiled in October of 2019. E-subscribe to our creative placemaking list for email updates.

More information to come on an event in the Spring of 2020 to celebrate the completion of the renovated Old Cedar Bridge and site improvements.

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 are beginning the process by brainstorming potential creative projects and gathering input specifically 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.

The next step will be to convene a committee of residents to select the project(s). If you would like to participate in this committee, please subscribe to the Creative Placemaking email list to stay updated.

Our first meeting will take place on Tuesday, October 15, 5:30-6:30 at Davanni's. Click here for more information.

Questions? Contact Alejandra Pelinka at or 952-563-8744.

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 would like to hear from you – what would you like to see here?

We hosted an on-site event in October, 2018 to gather thoughts and feedback from neighbors. We have continued to discuss ideas at a neighborhood watch meeting, and individually with different stakeholders. Currently the most popular ideas include native landscaping, a community garden, seating, and a firefighter memorial.

We will continue these conversations through 2019. Do you have a gathering, location, or neighborhood event in South Loop where you would like to discuss this project? Contact Alejandra Pelinka at 952-563-8744 or

Let's Imagine Together, onsite meeting location map

Let's Imagine Together, onsite meeting location map

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 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.

South Loop Sculpture

Bloomington’s Creative Placemaking Commission in partnership with Artistry recently 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 past, present or future of South Loop while providing an opportunity to surprise and delight those who visit, work and live in the South Loop. The deadline for the RFQ was February 1, 2019. View the South Loop Sculpture RFQ.

We received 151 applications in response to this RFQ, and our panel selected three artists to move forward to proposal presentations in May. Congratulations to the finalists:

  • Donald Lipski
  • Karl Unnasch
  • Blessing Hancock

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

The selected artist and final design will be announced in 2019. The sculpture's expected installation is in the summer of 2020.

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, outdoor games, and temporary pop up murals by Rock Martinez.

The 2019 Creative Happy Hour will take place on Thursday, August 15 from 5-7 PM at Bloomington Central Station Park (8100 33rd Ave S, Bloomington 55425). Learn more.

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.


South Loop Creative Placemaking in the news

Articles and Videos