Want to show off your art skills? Cedar Rapids seeks submissions from local artists for new 'pocket plaza'

A digitally altered photograph of the new pocket plaza, at Second Street SE next to Cobble Hill restaurant in downtown C
A digitally altered photograph of the new pocket plaza, at Second Street SE next to Cobble Hill restaurant in downtown Cedar Rapids, shows the nine large panels for which the city is seeking artist submissions. One artist will be selected to fill all nine panels. Submissions are due by 5 p.m. March 9. (Images courtesy of city of Cedar Rapids)

The Cedar Rapids Visual Arts Commission is seeking artist submissions to design nine large panels that will be featured in a new downtown pocket plaza on Second Street SE, next to Cobble Hill restaurant, between Third and Second avenues.

That space, which is nearly complete, features a parking lot at the back and benches, fencing, trees and decorative concrete blocks at the front. Still to come is the installation of a sculpture made by a local artist and the large art panels that the city is looking to fill.

“The idea was rather than just having a large-surface lot, let’s create some kind of usable space at the street that would be an amenity for downtown visitors that will hopefully create a little more street activity than a parking lot would,” said Sylvia Brueckert, a planner for the city’s Community Development and Planning Department.

The plaza, which was built in partnership between the city and United Fire Group, with the Downtown Self-Supported Municipal Improvement District pitching in for maintenance, is expected to be completed in the spring, Brueckert said.

“I think our hope is that this plaza will be another piece that can add to the liveliness of the downtown area,” Brueckert said. “It could a spot where people can sit and socialize or take a break from shopping, it could be a meeting spot, or it could just be a nice spot where someone can sit and enjoy some work by local artists.”

The plaza also offers some opportunity for local artists to get their work into a large-scale display and into the public’s eye, she added.

“We’re pretty open, so really artists could submit any style of art,” she said. “It could be completely digital pieces that an artist created on their computer, it could be high-quality photography, or prints of art in some other medium, whether it be painting, drawing, or something else. The visual arts commission just wants to have a really open call for artists and see what idea people come up with.”


Four 8-foot by 15-foot panels will be hung on the wall of the Cobble Hill building that faces the parking lot, and five 3-foot by 4-foot-nine panels will be installed in large frames near the seating area along the fence.

The city will pay for the cost of printing and installing the images.

Interested artists should submit proposals that would complement the design of the new pocket plaza and mesh well with the already planned sculpture.

Submitting artists are limited to four proposals each, which may include up to a 200-word description of the artist’s concept. Submitted digital images should be formatted as PDFs or JPEGs and the file size should be no larger than 2 megabytes.

The city will select one artist to fill all nine panels, Brueckert said, and the selected artist will receive $1,500.

Those with questions can contact Brueckert at (319) 286-5428. Submissions must be made via email to Submissions are due by 5 p.m. March 9, and the final selection will be made March 12.

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