‘Radical Playground’ wins 2019 Creative City Challenge

Participatory art to promote healing on The Commons this summer

The participatory art installation “Radical Playground” by Candida Gonzalez and MaryAnne Quiroz has won the 2019 Creative City Challenge under this year’s Northern Spark theme of “We Are Here: Resilience, Renewal & Regeneration.” During the summer of 2019 on The Commons, participants will be invited to heal through play with whimsical interactive “alebrije”: animal sculptures inspired by dream creatures from the Caribbean, Mexico, the Pacific Islands and the indigenous cultures of Minnesota. “Radical Playground” will debut on The Commons June 14 as part of Northern Spark, an annual nighttime arts festival in Minneapolis with tens of thousands of participants. The art will remain on The Commons through August 2019 for a summer of everyday interaction and special programming.

The artists intend “Radical Playground” to invite indigenous communities and communities of color to a space where they feel free to gather, to play, to heal. They want their project to bring a feeling of play, of free joy, of giving people’s bodies a break from stress and worry.

The installation shape follows eight posts circling a large center post. The center post is topped by a large, striking alebrije and has a pyramid-shaped base that will serve as an ofrenda (altar) during programming. The outer posts are topped alternately by alebrijes and flowers representing the four directions. Four interactive panels anchor the four direction posts at the bottom and invite people to become alebrijes themselves as they put their faces in the panel cutouts. The color palette is bright and tropical for exciting, colorful viewing from long distances. Solar lights will create a magical nighttime experience.

More about the Creative City Challenge
The Creative City Challenge is a competition for Minnesota-resident architects, landscape architects, urban designers, planners, engineers, scientists, artists, students and individuals of all backgrounds. The challenge: create and install a temporary, destination artwork that acts as a sociable and participatory platform for two months of onsite programming and encourages a sense of connectedness to the city and its rich cultural and natural offerings. The Creative City Challenge is conceived as a showcase for local creative talent, Minneapolis community identities and a tangible symbol of the complex narratives that make up the many stories within our urban landscape.

Past competition winners were Carry-on Homes in 2018, Orbacles in 2017, Wolf and Moose in 2016, mini_polis in 2015, Balancing Ground in 2014 and the Minneapolis Interactive Macro Mood Installation (MIMMI) in 2013.

The seventh annual Creative City Challenge is a program of the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy of the City of Minneapolis created in in collaboration with The Commons, Northern Lights.mn and the Northern Spark festival.

Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy
The Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy program leverages the creative sector toward social and economic growth in the City of Minneapolis; coordinates arts and creative economy activities; works with the Minneapolis Arts Commission; collaborates with City departments on eliminating racial disparities; and develops arts, culture and creative industry policies and programs for the City of Minneapolis.

The Commons
The Commons is a 4.2-acre public green space and an anchor in the Downtown East area’s transformation. Spanning two city blocks, the park is an active space for the public to relax and play. More than 150 free public programs have been offered at The Commons since its opening in 2016 including a weekly farmers market, music performances, film screenings, poetry readings, fitness classes and children’s activities. In the summer of 2019 it will also be the venue for Northern Spark June 14 and 15. Learn more at commonsmpls.com.

Northern Lights.MN and Northern Spark
Northern Spark is a late night participatory arts festival taking place from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. each night Friday, June 14, and Saturday, June 15, 2019. During Northern Spark, tens of thousands of people gather throughout the city to explore giant video projections, play in temporary installations in the streets, and enjoy experimental performances in green spaces and under bridges. Late into the night, the city surprises with friendly crowds, glowing groups of cyclists, unexpected paths through the urban landscape, and the magic of sunrise after a night of amazing art and experiences. See more at northernspark.org.

Northern Spark is produced by Northern Lights.mn, a nonprofit arts organization dedicated to artists working innovatively in the public sphere, exploring expanded possibilities for civic engagement.


March 8, 2019

Published Mar 8, 2019



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