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Frequently Asked Questions

What is CityArt?

The CityArt program coordinates the Walking Sculpture Tour, as well as other public art initiatives in the City Center. CityArt is a joint initiative of Twin Rivers Council for the Arts and the City Center Partnership dedicated to bringing our downtown free and accessible public art.

The CityArt committee includes staff and board members from TRCA, CCP, Mankato and North Mankato, as well as artists, local leaders and others who are passionate about public art. The committee fundraises, selects art, and plans and executes promotions and events. (More about the CityArt committee, including an application, is here.)

How do you pick the sculptures?

Artists apply to have their work included in the Walking Sculpture Tour in two ways:

  • Submitting directly to CityArt: In late summer, CityArt issues a Call to Artists. Artists can submit up to three works for consideration for the tour. Artists submit both completed works and works in progress. Many Minnesota artists submit directly to our program, though we also receive submissions from out of state.
  • Sculpture One Partner Network: The Partner Network is a consortium of outdoor sculpture exhibits in Sioux Falls, SD; Eau Claire, WI; Mason City, IA; Castlegar, British Columbia; and Mankato. Artists submit to the Network for consideration by all five programs.

Each fall, representatives from the five Network programs meet either in person or by video for preliminary sculpture selection. We consider works submitted to the Network that year, as well as works currently on display in each community that the artists are interested in having displayed on another tour. We use a modified “draft” format for these selections, taking turns having first choice of available work.

Our goal is to present at least 50 pieces (both direct submissions to CityArt and Network selections) to the full CityArt committee for the final selection. The number of pieces the committee selects depends on how much sponsorship money is raised that year. The committee evaluates all submissions to recommend the selected works. Factors considered include ensuring a mix of styles, materials and sizes, artistic quality, and appropriateness for available display locations. The committee also selects several alternates in case selected works become unavailable due to sale, lease or damage.

Who Installs the Tour?

The CityArt tour is installed by a group of awesome volunteers who work with staff from Mankato and North Mankato and the CityArt contract maintenance supervisor. Most years, about half the artists come for installation, helping to ensure pieces are installed to look their best. We receive in-kind assistance from several area businesses, including RW Carlstrom, which donates a welder, Kato Roofing, which provides a crane (and operator!) and Kato Mayflower Moving and Storage, which provides a truck and storage space. Installation takes several hours; we start at 6am. A few additional volunteers drive around with coffee and treats to keep the works and artists fueled.

11 months later, many of the same people come back to take down the tour.

What Happens to the Sculptures After the Tour?

Most artists who display in the tour hope that their work will be purchased! If a piece is purchased, we deliver it to the buyer or the location the buyer designates (often someone will purchase and donate to a nonprofit or the community). Sometimes, the artist comes to pick up his or her work, either to take it to another display location or to take it home. And of course, the People’s Choice award winner is moved to its permanent location!

A week or two after we take down the sculptures, we transport a truckload of art to Sioux Falls. There, the five programs come together in a large parking lot early on a Saturday morning for the annual sculpture exchange. Sculptures that had been displayed in Mankato are put on trucks bound for Mason City, Eau Claire, or Castlegar; pieces from those tours are loaded onto the Mankato truck.

Who buys the People’s Choice Award-winner?

The People’s Choice Award-winner is purchased by the CityArt program.

Who decides where the People’s Choice Award-winner goes?

First, it depends on which city’s “turn” it is to receive it. We’re on a three-year cycle, with Mankato getting the winner for two years, and North Mankato the third.

The piece’s permanent location must be in the City Center in a public location. We work with City staff to determine the placement. Fortunately, the answer is frequently obvious – what better place for Reading Magic than the library, or Stand for the Flag than Veteran’s Memorial Plaza?

Why don’t you put sculptures (INSERT LOCATION)?

We frequently are asked about expanding the sculpture tour into Old Town, or onto Broad Street, or even to the hilltop.

Our first goal with the Walking Sculpture Tour is that it must be walkable. We try to keep the footprint fairly condensed so it can be easily traveled on foot. We also place it where the infrastructure is available to support it. Sidewalks must be wide enough to place them without impacting accessibility, and they must be able to support the weight of the artwork and the display pads.

We also believe that City Center Mankato should have more than just sculptures in its public art repertoire! The CityArt on the Go traffic signal box murals can be found throughout the City Center, adding color and unexpected delight to our infrastructure. This summer’s Artists on Main Street initiative will bring unique public art and creative placemaking to Old Town. We are constantly evaluating and considering public art opportunities throughout the downtown. If you have an idea, the CityArt committee would love to hear it!