RED WING -- What does hope look like to you?

If you can turn your vision into a two-dimensional artwork, it just might end up as a wall-size mural in downtown Red Wing.

The Red Wing Artistic Response Team and the Red Wing Credit Union have teamed up to create the Hope Project. With funding support from the credit union, they are offering mini-grants to artists to support their work creating visual messages of hope during this challenging time.

As many as six artists will be awarded grants of $500 each, based on concept sketches or preliminary designs for an artwork that interprets themes of hope, resilience and inspiration.

Anyone age 16 and older may enter. They must have a geographic and/or community connection to Red Wing.

The mini-grants are to support their efforts developing final submissions, ART spokesmen said. Ultimately, one design will be selected to become the mural, and that artist will receive additional support to develop a final design.

“We believe that art makes a difference in our community,” according to the ART group’s announcement. “The mural will add to the visual interest of our downtown, enhance our community identity, and unite us in a time when we are physically distanced.”

“The images that we see really do make a difference to people’s mindset during stressful times,” said Stephanie Rogers, executive director of the Anderson Center, one of five core partners in ART. Others are Red Wing Arts, Universal Music Center, ArtReach and the Sheldon Theatre.

ART members hope to work with the newly named Red Wing Arts and Culture Committee on the next phase of the project – refining the final design and selecting a location.

The idea for the project came from Aarpon Dejong, president and CEO of Red Wing Credit Union, said Emily Guida Foos of Red Wing Arts.

“The Red Wing Credit Union always has been a very big supporter of the arts in Red Wing,” Foos said. Dejong reached out to her when he had an idea to do something for the community, to actively help people become hopeful. “Art is a way to do that,” she said, and at the same time the project supports local artists.

He came up with the idea of a public artwork while running and thinking about what can be done to encourage people, Dejong said.

“Red Wing’s a great town, but everybody feels like there’s a cloud over everything,” he said. He believes that arts are a vital part of the community, and feels that a public artwork could convey an uplifting message of positivity and hope.

He and the others have no preconceived notions about specific designs. Dejong wants to see how the artists’ creative minds deliver on the vision of hope.

At the same time, Rogers pointed out that “it’s a community-focused project,” so they anticipate that the artwork will somehow represent the community – “who we are, the cultures and history here.”

A panel of representatives from the sponsoring organizations will review entries to select finalists.

Because it’ll be public art, ART members anticipate involving the community in selecting which finalist will become a mural. As part of the process, however, “Finalist designs will be used in multiple ways to spread hope in the community.”

That likely will mean creating prints of the designs, posting them in windows around town and on social media, and other means of “getting the community motivated behind them,” Foos said.

They hope that the project will attract widespread participation.

“This is intentionally very open,” Rogers said. Foos added that people submitting designs do not have to be muralists. It’s possible a professional with expertise in murals will be hired to do the painting.

The credit union, which is funding the first phase of the project, will continue to be a partner going forward. “We will be heavily involved,” Dejong said.

The project is moving forward quickly.

“I wanted something to happen now,” Dejong said. “The community needs something to focus on now.”

To work toward a potential new mural in spring 2021, the following timeline is in place:

Thursday, June 4, 7 p.m. – An informational session will be conducted via Zoom; it also can be viewed on the Red Wing Arts Facebook page, where there will be a link to the Zoom meeting for people who want to actively participate. A video of the session will be made available online.

Wednesday, June 10 – Applications for artist grants are due.

Wednesday, June 17 – Up to six finalists will be named.

Summer 2020 – Finalist designs will be visible around town as part of the selection process; the winner will be announced, along with a schedule for creating a mural by spring 2021.

Enter your artwork now

To enter your artwork in the Red Wing ART Hope Project, prepare an entry form including the following:

1. Artist statement, including biography

2. Short written description of the proposed piece

3. Examples (websites acceptable) of artist’s previous work

4. Color sketch, rendering or photo of proposed entry

5. Short description of artist’s connection to Red Wing community.

The selection committee will consider three criteria: Artistic interpretation of the theme(s); artistic quality; relevance of the design and connection of the applicant to the Red Wing area.

Deadline to apply is June 10. Applications should be emailed to artcall@redwingarts.org, with HOPE in the subject line.