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Call for Public Art Projects: Reflections from the Banks of the Yahara River


This is a call for artists to submit ideas for a collection of outdoor artworks to grace the banks of the Yahara River on Madison’s east side. The temporary exhibition is being organized by neighbors, for neighbors, and will be on view in June of 2014 during the weeks leading up to the Marquette Waterfront Festival and the annual Fools Flotilla. The Flotilla is a floating parade organized by the River Alliance of Wisconsin on the Sunday of the Festival.

The public art installation is being organized to provide interactive experiences and encourage reflections about the Yahara River and Parkway. The organizers will apply for a BLINK! grant from the Madison ArtsCommission to support this temporary public art experience.

What is it about the Yahara River?

Is it a gem in the heart of the city? A diamond in the rough, or a shining jewel? What do you see from the water’s edge? From a boat or a bridge? How do you use the river? Or the parkway? What is missing?

What could a little art do to enhance the place? Start a conversation? Make a point? Create a reflection?

The Yahara River used to be called the Catfish River. It is part of the larger Yahara watershed, a tributary of the Rock River, and mixes with the waters of the Mississippi River at the Gulf of Mexico. It was named the Yahara in 1855 and the parkway and paths along the river were completed in 1906.

Before that, the meandering river and marshland were used as a dump. The Yahara River Parkway was the first park funded by donations from regular people, instead of large gifts from a few donors. They wanted a pleasant place for neighbors to enjoy nature in the city.

In the past 19 years there have been 7 plans and studies making recommendations for the Yahara River Parkway. It was designated a City of Madison Landmark in 1995 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.  

The Yahara River “offers tremendous possibilities; not only is it a neighborhood resource, but it offers the citizens of Madison a vast amount of untapped recreational opportunities.”  -a 2013 official statement made by The City of Madison  


Submission Details:

  • Provide a description of the proposed work, including size and materials and installation requirements. Responsibility for fabrication, installation, maintenance, and removal of the artwork is assumed by the artist.
  • Conceptual Approach Statement explaining how the proposed work will enhance  appreciation of the Yahara River/Yahara River Parkway.  You may include a paragraph describing how participation would advance your art form.
  • Your site(s) of choice. You may want to include a photo or map of the site. The organizers will work with selected artists and the City to get necesaary permission and permits. Please note that preferences for locations are not guaranteed.
  • Resume or work history. Residents, neighbors, makers, and other creative visionaries are encouraged to submit ideas. Do include photos of previous creations (up to 5 digital images of previous work with descriptions of the projects) that indicate your ability to realize a proposed project.
  • Send to bikerbecker@yahoo.com. Digital files can be shared via dropbox or as attachments.
  • Deadline: Monday, December 16, 2013.  Decisions will be made and announced by January 1, 2014.

Additional Information:

  • Up to 4 proposals will be selected. We are looking for projects that are feasible and that reflect the theme of the proposed project ‘Reflections from the Banks of the Yahara River.’
  • Proposals may be for a collaborative piece. You need not be an established or professional artist.
  • Reimbursement for supplies up to $250 may be available, contingent on grant funding (an application for a BLINK grant will be submitted in Feb. 2014).
  • The organizers will work with selected artists and the City to get necessary permits. Please note that once projects have been selected, these permissions and permits are not guaranteed.



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