St. Paul is looking for artists to create public art installations as part of a long-term vision for the Grand Round bicycle and pedestrian trail.

The city will pay between $20,000 and $50,000 for up to six projects that will punctuate Wheelock Parkway between Lake Como and Edgerton Street. Funds will stem from the 2009 Public Art Ordinance, which requires that a percentage of capital project budgets — money for street reconstruction, for example — go toward public art.

"It helps soften up our projects a bit, and take away some of the clean-line, sterile type of things that people maybe get concerned about in terms of construction," said Nick Peterson, street design and construction manager at St. Paul Public Works. "It's one of those necessary components of trying to have a livable city."

Public art installations along Wheelock Parkway will fit into a larger theme of birds and migration — the Grand Round vision of City Artist Aaron Dysart, who's employed by the nonprofit Public Art St. Paul and embedded within the city.

Dysart said he's looking for artists who have ideas based on that theme. They don't need previous public art experience and can hire a subcontractor to build their piece; it just needs to be durable, low-maintenance and safe.

"A lot of public art is based on what you've done in the past, i.e. there's a big Catch-22 of 'I'm not going to give you this project because you have never done one of these projects before, so you'll never do one of these projects,' " Dysart said. "That being said, these budgets are quite substantial, and the city needs to be protected and see something awesome out there."

There's no geographic limit on who can apply, although Dysart said it may be easier for Minnesota artists to attend community meetings and transport their finished pieces to St. Paul. The goal, he said, is to create a public art trail made up of a wide range of artistic visions and voices.

"It's not just this notion of decoration; it's a notion of seeing your city and communicating differently, especially across cultures," he said. "It's this visual language that you don't necessarily need specific training to enjoy. It's for everybody."

Applications are open until 4 p.m. on Nov. 23. To learn more, visit

Emma Nelson • 612-673-4509