Artists chosen for Nicollet Mall public art commissions

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Four artists have been selected for commissions to create new public art for the redesigned Nicollet Mall out of a pool of more than 200 applicants.

The City Council’s Transportation and Public Works Committee gave city staff the go ahead Tuesday to negotiate agreements with the artists. The full Council will vote on authorizing the agreements June 19.

The artists selected for commissions include:

— Ned Kahn of California to design a large-scale iconic artwork for $500,000;
— Blessing Hancock of Arizona to create a series of suspended lanterns for $200,000;
— Tristan Al-Haddad of Georgia to design a key feature for $225,000; and
— Regina Flanagan of Minnesota to work on integrating public art into the mall design for $75,000.

Mary Altman, the city’s public arts administrator, said the goal is to have public art pieces that remain compelling for the long term.

Kahn is the artist behind the kinetic wind sculpture, “The Wave,” which covers a parking ramp next to Target Field. The sculpture is 60 feet tall and 600 feet long and made of hinged aluminum pieces that sway in the wind.

“I am fascinated with the idea of an artwork becoming a scientific instrument, a register of phenomena, and blurring the boundaries between art, architecture, science and nature,” Kahn said in a statement included in a report presented to the Council committee. “Much of my current work involves energy gathering or saving systems.”

Hancock will work with a team of local emerging artists to create the suspended lanterns for the mall. In other projects in San Antonio and Tucson, Hancock incorporated bike parts in artworks, such as gears in lanterns.

Al-Haddad has worked on creative and interactive public art pieces in Colombo, Sri Lanka and Varapariaiso, Chile.

Flanagan is an artist and professional landscape architect. She will work with the Nicollet Mall design team to connect old and new artwork along the mall.

The city is taking stock of 109 artworks that have called Nicollet Mall their home to determine whether they will remain on the street or move to a new location. All of the artworks, including the artist-designed manhole covers, will be removed and stored by the end of summer. 

The City Council recently approved an assessment plan for the $50 million Nicollet Mall reconstruction project. Noted New York City-based James Corner Field Operations is leading the redesign project.

Utility work is scheduled to begin the end of June on Nicollet Mall. The project is expected to be complete by early to mid-2017.