An initiative for more public art and placemaking projects in North Mankato is taking shape through a partnership with Twin Rivers Council for the Arts.

Both entities entered into a memorandum of understanding on Tuesday night for Twin Rivers to handle the contracts for specific projects. The City committed 5-thousand dollars for the first phase of the initiative to cover the cost of up to five projects, along with a 500-dollar consulting fee to Twin Rivers.

Executive Director Noelle Lawton says they identified four projects. 

“One would be a public mural on a private building in downtown North Mankato. The other is a type of a mural that is called anamorphic and that would actually be applied to playground equipment, that park has yet to be identified. The other is this interactive story book. Then interpretive dance using mixed media in one of our parks.”

In a review of City Code, public murals are not allowed and staff are in the process of amending the current ordinance in an attempt to resolve the issue. The City Council will consider amending the code to allow public art murals and will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. on September 17.

The planning process for the public art was initiated two years ago and Twin Rivers spent time gathering ideas from the community on public art. From there, a Public Art Ideas Plan that addressed parks, signage and streetscapes was formulated and later adopted by the City Council in July of 2017.

Lawton says they have continued to figure out the plan as they went through the process.

“You know, we don’t have anything on the books, right. There is no ordinance, there’s no public art policy, so we really are figuring things out as we go. What’s great is that the idea to change is so welcomed by our city government, by our community. Yes, there are aspects that are more conservative, but I think what’s awesome is that, in terms of public art, there really is something for everyone.”

While the other projects are still being finalized, the hour-long mixed media performance will be held this Saturday at Spring Lake Park Shelter #2 starting at 1 p.m. The performance by Leralee Whittle with live sound by Paul Sprawl is free to the public.