Linn County and Cedar Rapids want artists to submit proposals from new public art projects

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The children of Dr. Percy and Lileah Harris holding the ribbon at the dedication ceremony for building named in their parents honor. Friday, Nov. 22, 2019. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

Linn County and Cedar Rapids are looking for artists to create new works of public art. Linn County needs both indoor and outdoor works for the new Dr. Percy and Lileah Harris Building, and Cedar Rapids wants a nine-section outdoor mural for a “pocket plaza” scheduled to open later this year.

Submissions for the projects must be submitted by March 9.

Dr. Percy and Lileah Harris Building

The Linn County Public Art Commission is accepting submissions for interior and exterior artwork that will be displayed at the Dr. Percy and Lileah Harris Building, 1020 6th St SE. The building, named after two local civil rights leaders, opened last November and houses Linn County Public Health and Child and Youth Development Services.

Two pieces of artwork will be installed: One will be installed in the building’s lobby and the second will be installed outdoors between the playground and parking lot, near the basketball court, commission chair Sean Ulmer said. (Ulmer is also the executive director of the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art.)

“We’re not looking for anything specific, but it certainly could have something that references the Harris family or could reference the functions in the building but it wouldn’t necessarily have to,” Ulmer told Little Village. “What we’re looking for above all is quality.”

The calls for proposals were posted in late January on Call for Entry (CaFÉ), a website where artists from around the world can submit their work to be considered for various projects.

There are separate applications for the indoor piece and the outdoor piece. Only the first 250 applications received in each of the two categories will be accepted for consideration.

Those submissions will be reviewed by two art selection committees — one for the indoor piece and one for the outdoor piece, Ulmer said. The art selection committees are separate from the public art commission, but some commission members — along with other individuals in the community — will be on the committees.

The committees will then review the submissions and narrow them down to three finalists for each piece. The finalists will have about a month to create a specific proposal for the Harris building, which the committees will review before making their choice.

The budget for the interior artwork is $50,000, and the budget for the exterior artwork is $145,000, according to a news release. Artists have until March 9 to submit their applications.

“We would love to see — and maybe we’re too optimistic — but we would love to see both pieces be installed by late fall, say mid-November,” Ulmer said.

Cedar Rapids pocket plaza

An depiction with example fence panels and mural panels installed at the pocket plaza. — courtesy of the city of Cedar Rapids

The Cedar Rapids Visual Arts Commission is looking for an artist to create nine panels that will be “an important visual focal piece for downtown Cedar Rapids” and complement the new pocket plaza on 2nd Street SE. The city said the plaza is expected to be completed by spring of this year.

Original digitized designs will be printed to create a four-panel mural on the side of Cobble Hill restaurant and another five panels will be placed near the plaza’s seating area. The city will pay for the printing and installation of the art.

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Artists can submit up to four proposals, and each proposal should include a short description of the work.

The deadline for submissions is 5 p.m. on March 9. The artist selected for the project will find out on March 12 and receive $1,500 for their work.

Submissions should be emailed to city planner Sylvia Brueckert at

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