Muscatine seeks artists and groups for public art projects

MUSCATINE, Iowa–The Public Art Advisory Commission for the City of Muscatine announces two public art opportunities. The first consists of a mural project on Houser Street. Organizations may submit applications. Up to five organizations will receive a $300 stipend to complete a mural project on a section of retaining wall between Hershey and Lucas. The second seeks qualified artists for a public art installation in or near the roundabout at Second and Mulberry.

“Muscatine clubs and organizations are invited to apply to work on a mural,” explains Melanie Alexander, city staff liaison to the Public Art Advisory Commission and director of the Muscatine Art Center: “We hope student and youth groups as well as service organizations and non-profits consider developing a concept for a mural. Ideally, each of the five murals should celebrate Muscatine’s history, share a positive message, or promote another unique feature of the community.”

Clubs and organizations will have the option either to complete the project themselves or to work with or hire artists or muralists from the region. Upon request, the Public Art Advisory Commission will help match selected organizations with a muralist. Artists who would like to apply should contact the Muscatine Art Center. Mural painting should begin in summer 2021 with a target completion date of Oct. 1, 2021.

The public art installation for the roundabout has a target completion date of summer 2022. The more lengthy process will allow the Public Art Advisory Commission to gather input from the public and community stakeholders.

The request for qualifications extends to artists living in Iowa or a neighboring state. Artists with prior experience completing a public art installation should apply. From the qualified applicants, the Public Art Advisory Commission will select up to three artists who will receive $750 stipends to complete a concept for an installation in or near the Second and Mulberry roundabout. They will then share the concepts with the public.

“Because the roundabout is the entryway to downtown, the Public Art Advisory Commission is looking for artists who can create something that is unique to Muscatine and can deliver a project that takes into account several logistical concerns especially in regards to the safety of pedestrians and drivers,” states Alexander.

Both projects represent firsts for the Public Art Advisory Commission, which formed in July 2019. It consists of five community members appointed by City Council, one staff member from the Muscatine Art Center, and one from the Parks and Recreation Department. The group devoted its first year to reviewing how other communities carry out public art projects and securing a grant that covers stipends for the artists creating concepts for an installation at Second and Mulberry. Originally, the advisory commission had planned to hold two forums about public art, but COVID-19 disrupted plans to hold this type of large gathering.

“Moving forward on not one but two pubic art projects is a silver lining for 2020,” explains Alexander. “We are excited to see how artists and organizations respond to these opportunities.”

Artists and organizations can find applications for both the mural project and the installation at Second and Mulberry on the Muscatine Art Center’s website, www.muscatineartcenter.org, on the “Artists” page under “Get Involved”. The applications are also available on the “bid postings” page of the City of Muscatine’s website. Interested artists and organizations can also call 563-263-8282 to request the materials. The commission must receive applications for the mural project by Feb. 1, 2021.and the requests for qualifications by March 1, 2021.