Samatar Crossing Call for Public Artists

A. Samatar Crossing
Samatar Crossing: Samatar Crossing spans Interstate I-35, serving as a connector between downtown neighborhoods of Elliot Park and Downtown East and the West Bank/Cedar-Riverside Neighborhood.This project involves construction of a new sidewalk and bicycle path between 11th Avenue South and 15th Avenue South on the former 5th Street I-94 exit ramp and on a bridge spanning I35W. This will also result in a new pedestrian and bike connection between the West Bank on the East and Elliot Park and Downtown East on the West, as well as to the Hiawatha trail. Samatar Crossing is named in honor of Hussein Samatar, a former Minneapolis School Board member who was the first Somali-American elected to public office in Minneapolis. For more information visit the City’s website.

Samatar Crossing, is symbolic of Hussein Samatar’s life and values. Samatar spent his life making connections between immigrant communities – especially the Somali community – and the mainstream. The bridge serves as a reminder of his work – as a reconnection between downtown and the West Bank, neighborhoods that represent the mainstream and Somali communities respectively.

Hussein Samatar (1968-2013): Born in Somalia, Hussein Samatar moved to Minneapolis in December 1991 as part of the first wave of Somali immigrants to the Twin Cities. He earned an MBA from St. Thomas University and was a Humphrey School of Public Affairs Fellow and a German Marshall Memorial Fellow. After working at Wells Fargo as a business banker, Samatar founded the African Development Center (ADC) in 2004, bringing his skills and experiences back to Cedar Riverside and providing financial and educational support to immigrants. ADC is still a thriving support agency for immigrants in the Twin Cities. Samatar entered public office in 2006, when he was appointed to the Minneapolis Library Board of Trustees by Mayor R.T. Rybak. He became Minnesota’s first Somali-American elected official in 2011 when he was elected to the Minneapolis School Board.

B. Neighborhood and Area

Cedar-Riverside: Cedar-Riverside, or Mno Sota Makoce, was once part of the homeland of the Dakota people, who were indigenous to this area. Alternatively known as the “West Bank” or simply “Riverside,” Cedar-Riverside is now home to a robust arts and culture scene, multiple universities, health care facilities, and a vibrant nightlife. The African Development Center, founded by Samatar, is located in Cedar Riverside and continues to provide fundamental business development support to the immigrant community. The Cedar-Riverside neighborhood is named after the intersection of the two main avenues of the neighborhood, Cedar and Riverside.

The neighborhood is triangular-shaped with three definitive boundaries: the Mississippi River on the east side, Interstate 94 on the south side, and Interstate 35W on the west side. Cedar-Riverside‘s history is nearly as old as Minneapolis’. In the late 1890s, the neighborhood was known as “Snoose Boulevard,” with a thriving community of Scandinavian immigrants, many of whom worked in the milling and lumber industries on the Mississippi River. In the 1960s and 1970s, Snoose Boulevard turned from a quaint neighborhood to a beehive of hippies, intellectuals, actors, artists and musicians. Presently, the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood boasts the largest community of immigrants in the Twin Cities, continuing a long history of ethnic and cultural diversity.

Today, there are more than eight thousand residents who call this area home, 50% of which are of East African descent. Minneapolis is home to the one of the largest Somali populations in North America, many of whom call Cedar-Riverside home. Other residents include, but are not limited to, Oromo, Korean, Ethiopian, Ecuadorian, Iraqi, Eritrean and Turkish Americans.
For more information on the Cedar-Riverside area, visit these websites:


Downtown East: Downtown East is located in the center of Minneapolis and the East side of Downtown. The neighborhood is bounded on the north by the Mississippi River, on the west by Portland Avenue South, on the east by Interstate 35W and on the south by 6th Street South. Its residential community is being built at record levels. The Mill District, along the Mississippi River Front is a historic district with several old Mills and mill ruins. East is home to The Commons, US Bank Stadium, and multiple major cultural institutions, including the Guthrie Theater, the Mill City Museum, MacPhail Center for Music, and Open Book Literary Arts Center. This area – including St. Anthony Falls and former Spirit Island – are also significant sites to the Dakota people.

The Washburn A Mill was by the mid-19th century the most technologically advanced mill in the world. Obsolete by 1965, however, it closed and sat vacant for many years. In 1991 the building was nearly destroyed by fire. The City of Minneapolis cleaned up the rubble and fortified the charred walls of the mill in the late 1990s. Shortly thereafter, the Minnesota Historical Society developed the Mill City Museum, which cleverly incorporates the ruins into the new structure. Many of the other old mills and factories have been converted into residential and commercial uses. For more information on Downtown East, visit these websites:


Elliot Park: Just east of Downtown Minneapolis, Elliot Park is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the City. Bounded by 5th Street to the north, I-94 to the south, 35W to the east and 5th Avenue to the west, Elliot Park is home to an historic district and has multiple buildings listed on the historic registry. The merger of the downtown street grid (parallel to the river) and the south Minneapolis street grid (East to West) creates an interesting mix of partial streets and triangles in the neighborhood.

Originally home to the City’s wealthy elite, Elliot Park in the 1800’s offered close proximity to the City center and was home to the City’s two sole parks. As the City grew, so did the demand for housing. Many mansions were converted into apartments and brownstones were built to accommodate demand. During the 1960’s, interstate 1-94 dissected the neighborhood from South Minneapolis. The construction predicated an exodus from the neighborhood and the population declined. Many buildings were converted to parking lots and residents moved to other places. Today, Elliot Park has repopulated with condominiums and a variety of housing for different income levels. Despite being above average for homing immigrant residents in the City, only 20% of the population is foreign-born which contrasts to the 37.6% in Cedar Riverside. The neighborhood is home to two prominent institutions: Hennepin County Medical Center and North Central University. For more information on Elliot Park, visit these websites:

Additional Resources:

C. Samatar Crossing Public Art Project
The City is seeking up to 3 artists to collaborate on the design of an iconic public artwork for Samatar Crossing. Artists of any discipline – including spoken word, poetry, graphic design, and visual arts – are invited to apply. No previous public art experience is required. Artworks might address the following goals:

• Bridging the immigrant experiences of past and present residents and identifying the shared experiences of people who call these neighborhoods home.
• Artistically enhancing the reconnection of the West Bank to Downtown Minneapolis; linking the Elliot Park, Downtown East and Cedar Riverside neighborhoods through the creation of a bright and bold public artwork.
• Enhancing the wayfinding and pedestrian experience of the crossing.
• Highlighting the values of Hussein Samatar and the people who live, lived and will live in the surrounding communities.
• Supporting the creation of a welcoming experience for people of all backgrounds and walks of life.

D. Compensation
Up to 3 artists will be hired for the design phase of this project. Artists will be compensated $10-12,000 for participation in the design process for the project. There is approximately $120,000 in additional funding for the fabrication and installation of art.

• This fee should cover all the costs and expenses associated with fulfilling the responsibilities outlined in section E below.
• A contract between artists and the City will define stages of completion and a payment schedule. Final payments are contingent upon the completion of deliverables.

E. Artist’s Responsibilities
• Meeting and working with project team and/or other selected artists to develop and refine artistic concepts for two cohesive and complementary artworks.
• Creating the design for a collaborative and cohesive permanent public artwork in collaboration with the other selected artists and the project team – including other artists and city staff.
• Working in and with the adjacent communities to engage residents in the design process including meetings, public engagements.
• Researching and learning about Hussein Samatar and the affiliated neighborhoods and histories.
• Participating in an ongoing collaborative design review process and making changes with input from the staff, designers, committees and the community.
• Determining the materials for the artwork and the fabrication process and working with staff to select the fabricator for the project.
• Providing City Staff with documentation of the process.
• Providing regular email updates to City Staff.
• Providing input during the fabrication process.
• Collaboratively develop designs that are durable, energy efficient, and vandal-proof and require little repair or maintenance.

F. Project Timeline
Thursday August 23rd – Call for Artists Posted
Tuesday, September 18th, 5-7pm – Artist Informational Meeting: Brian Coyle Center, 420 South 15th Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55454
Friday, September 21st – Posting of Materials from Informational Meeting on website October 2nd, 3-6pm – Artist Application Support: Pop-up Resource Center hosted by Springboard for the Arts at Mixed Blood Theater 1501 S 4th St, Minneapolis, MN 55454
October 3rd – Last day for submission of questions –
October 5th – Answers posted online
Tuesday, October 9th – Intent to Apply Form Submitted (advance submission recommended)
Wednesday, October 10th – 4pm CST- Call for Artists Deadline
Week of November 5th – Finalist Interviews
Late November – Artist Notification

G. Who is Eligible to Apply?
• Artists of any discipline are invited to apply, including but not limited to spoken word artists, poets, textile artists, sculptors, public artists, graphic designers, etc.
• No previous experience in public art is required for this project, however, must demonstrate capacity to translate their creative practice across disciplines and contextualize their artwork within a defined framework.
• Capacity to deliver a project that responds to the defined project goals.
• Experience working in and with diverse communities, especially immigrant communities.
• Working knowledge of or a proven capacity to learn about the communities defined in this call.
• Experience collaborating on projects, including but not limited to experience working with organizations, community groups or cities.
• Proven ability to manage projects including budgets, communications, and administrative tasks.
• Current City staff and Minneapolis Arts Commissioners are not eligible.
• Organizations, architectural and engineering firms, design firms, galleries and public art consultants are not eligible.

H. How to Apply
Contact for More Information: All questions regarding this proposal should be submitted in email to: by October 3rd, 4pm CST. All questions and answers will be compiled and posted online as an addendum to this Call for Artists. They will also be sent to all artists who complete an Intent to Apply form. The Intent to Apply Form is found here. Do not contact other contractors, architects or City staff working on this project.
All proposals are due: Wednesday, October 10th, 4 p.m., CST. Intent to Apply must be submitted no later than one day in advance of the deadline – October 9th – in order to receive a submission link.

Changes to Application Process/How to Upload Your Application: Artists planning to apply should complete the Intent to Apply form here. You will then receive an email with a link to a folder to upload your application. Do NOT email proposals or send links to file transfer programs, such as Drop Box. It is recommended that you complete the Intent to Apply form prior to the day of the deadline.

Additional Information: Materials from the informational meeting will be posted online as an addendum with this Call for Artists. This Call for Artists is available in alternative formats upon request. For more information about City of Minneapolis public art visit

I. What to Submit
Artwork Samples:
• Submit images of your previous work that demonstrate your ability as an artist to design and work on this project. Artists may submit up to 10 work samples in the following formats. No more than ten total samples will be reviewed.
• Submit ten images as jpegs. It is recommended that your images be roughly 1920 x 1920 pixels and no more than 1.8 MB in file size. Images that do not meet the required formats may not be considered.
• Written Work Samples: single spaced, 12-point font., written work samples cannot exceed 10 pages total. For example, five 2-page work samples or ten 1-page work samples are acceptable formats.
• Video/Audio Work Samples: Up to 10 video or audio work samples not longer than 30 seconds in length. For example, two 2.5-minute videos or one 5-minute work sample is an acceptable format
▪ Video/audio work samples must be submitted via YouTube or another online platform.
▪ All A/V weblinks must be submitted via individual PDF documents and files must be labeled with the corresponding work sample number. For example Last Name_First Name_#
▪ Individual files should not represent more than one work sample.
• Multiple projects cannot be compiled in a single work sample. No compilations of images or projects will be accepted.
Written Materials: Proposal packets should be submitted in one single 8 ½” x 11” pdf. Please include:
• Cover Sheet: A completed copy of the attached cover sheet.
• Written Description: A written description of up to two pages that addresses:
o Why you are interested and what excites you most about the project;
o If you are an artist team, your experience working together in the past, and which artist will be the lead contact for your team;
o Other commitments and time frames during which you would be unavailable.
• Resume: A current resume(s) of all of the artists involved, including information on background and ability to conduct the tasks listed. Up to two pages per artist.
• Image List: A completed copy of the attached Image List.
• References: The names, addresses, and daytime phone numbers of three references who can speak about your ability as an artist and, a collaborator, and if relevant, as a team.
Late applications and applications that do not follow these guidelines may not be considered.

J. How Will Applications Be Reviewed?
A selection panel will review applications based on these criteria. The panel will include: An artist, arts administrator, architect or landscape architect, arts commissioner; a project site representative, a Public Works staff member, an appropriate community representative, and two at-large members. Their selection will be based on the following criteria:

Stimulate excellence in urban design and public arts:
• Is the artist’s submission, previous work and/or proposed idea engaging and high quality in concept and construction?
• Is the quality of the artist’s previous work comparable to other artwork commissioned by the City?
• Is the artist not over represented in the City’s collection?
• Does the artist have a significant or engaging body of work?
• Does the artist have experience collaborating with city planners and other professionals?
• Does the artist have experience with architectural and engineering drawings and methods?
• Does the artist have experience in comparable projects and artistic disciplines?

Enhance community identity and place:
• Is the artist familiar with the community and setting and its characteristics, including history, identity, geography and cultures?
• Has the artist’s previous work been appropriate to those communities and settings and the above characteristics?
• Does the artist have experience integrating artwork into infrastructure and public spaces?
Contribute to community vitality:
• Have the artist’s previous projects attracted visitors and residents?
• Does the artist’s previous work or proposed process build capacity between the private and public sectors, artists, arts organizations and community members?
• Does the artist’s previous work or proposed process encourage civic dialogue about community, cultures or City issues?
• Do the artist’s previous projects incorporate or address relevant cultural or historical events?
Involve a broad range of people/communities:
• Does the artist have experience working with communities and diverse groups?
• Does the artist have a demonstrated ability to address ADA regulations as they apply to public art?
• Does the artist’s previous or proposed process celebrate one or more of the City’s cultural communities?
• Does the artist have experience in projects that bring people together or create gathering places?

Value artists and artistic process:
• Does the artist have a unique or appropriate cultural, geographic or artistic perspective?
• Does the proposed project or process appropriately support the integrity of the artwork and the moral rights of the artist?
• Does the proposed project or design process include the artist and the artistic process as a central element?
Use resources wisely:
• Is the artist’s previous work or proposed project sustainable, secure and technically feasible?
• If the proposers are a team, is the team a manageable size and do they show demonstrated experience working together?
• Has the artist’s previous work been within the timeline and budget and is the artist able to work within the City’s timeline and budget?

K. Attachments
• Coversheet Form
• Image List Form

City of Minneapolis Public Art, Department of Community Planning and Economic Development
For over 30 years, the City of Minneapolis has enriched the lives of citizens and visitors by integrating public art into city planning, services design and infrastructure. The City’s Public Art Program features:
• New commissions through the Art in Public Places program
• The conservation and maintenance of the City’s collection of over 60 works located in all parts of Minneapolis
• Support to other departments and agencies developing public facilities, infrastructure, and public art projects
• Permits to neighborhoods and community groups for art projects in the public realm

For more information about City of Minneapolis public art visit