The Minnesota Vikings raised the culture quotient at their new stadium with a request Thursday for hometown artists to apply for commissions so their work can become a permanent part of the $1.1 billion facility.
Tanya Dreesen, manager of new stadium partnerships, said arts and sports make for comfortable companions because both provide drama and excitement. She also said she believes that uniquely in Minnesota, NFL fans and arts fans are not mutually exclusive. "The line is blurred more," she said.
Given that crossover, Dreesen said, "we want to create a museum-quality stadium art collection" that would adorn "the walls, general concourses and unexpected areas like stairwells and elevator banks." It would be a "pity," she said, not to incorporate art into the building's bold design.
Dreesen has been working with Sports and the Arts, a California-based company that has directed similar art installations at Levi's Stadium where the San Francisco 49ers play and New York's Yankee Stadium.
Interested artists can start submitting biographies and work samples on Feb. 1, with March 31 being the deadline. This summer, the team will convene a panel to decide which artists receive commissions.
The stadium is set to open in July 2016. The artists will be paid, but the Vikings aren't saying how much they're going to spend on the work. Commissioned work can range from paintings to mixed media, graphics and sculptures. Vikings spokesman Jeff Anderson said nothing is being ruled out.
At 1.75 million square feet, the new stadium will be a steel, concrete and glass behemoth that nearly doubles the size of the demolished Metrodome.
Dreesen said that given the scope of the private-public partnership, "what a great way to thank the state by hiring local artists and put them on a wall. … Wouldn't it be amazing to find the next Picasso …?"
In a phone call from their California office, Sports and the Arts executives Tracie Speca-Ventura and Camille Speca say they're seeking to bring the blank stadium walls and spaces alive with the region's history. "We definitely think that each stadium needs to have local feel and flavor," Speca-Ventura said. "The Vikings are really supportive in wanting fine art, photography and graphics."
Dreesen said the initial focus has been on three areas — regional flavor, Minnesota sports and the Vikings.
For the past few months, the arts consultants have made monthly trips to Minnesota to interview artists, tour galleries, sift through archives, meet historians and cultivate connections at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. They said they're also working with the Star Tribune about getting the rights to historical photos.
"Some things that people might take for granted, we're going to rediscover with fresh eyes," Speca said. "The ultimate is to discover something people haven't seen in a while and didn't know about the area."
The two say they unearthed historical nuggets for Levi's Stadium. They've also looked at Target Field, where the Minnesota Twins incorporated stories about lakes and the Twins in and around the rough-hewed Kasota stone structure.
While the competition for commissions is open to all, Speca-Ventura said, "We're going to do everything we can" to use local artists.
The stadium is about a third complete. On Friday, the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority will approve additional minor design changes that will be funded by the Vikings. The team is spending another $900,000 to complete the north skyway design, add polymer partitions in the toilets and change the color of the soffits.
How to submit art
Local artists of all levels and experience who are interested in being considered for the new stadium collection may submit a short bio, sample images of artistic pieces indicating the style of their work and any other relevant information via PDF to firstname.lastname@example.org. PDF submissions should be no larger than 5MB and contain up to eight visual samples of past pieces created by each artist.