Apply Now for Art on the River 2020-21

Application Details

The City of Dubuque, IA is currently accepting sculpture submissions through Wednesday, May 6, 2020 for the 15th annual Art on the River sculpture exhibit along the Mississippi Riverwalk in the Port of Dubuque.

"Resilient Earth" has been selected as the theme for the 2020-21 exhibit, in conjunction with nationwide celebrations of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and statewide programming inspired by the 100th anniversary of the State of Iowa parks system.

Existing sculptures, as well as concept proposals for new sculptural work, are encouraged. Both permanent and temporal/semi-permanent works will be considered. Successful applications will propose sculptures that draw connections between the arts and earth sciences; speak to conservation, sustainability efforts, or environmental stewardship; highlight the natural beauty of the Mississippi River; or speak to the resiliency of the natural world, especially the Mississippi River.

Each year up to 10 sculptures are chosen for exhibit at highly visible locations along the picturesque Mississippi Riverwalk. A juror will review all applications submitted and make recommendations to the City of Dubuque's Arts and Cultural Affairs Advisory Commission which advises City Council on the final selections. Chosen artists will be notified in early June and will be required to sign a contract agreeing to the terms of the program; an Example Artist Agreement Form is available for download and review.

To Apply

Submission must be made online via the online application form. There is no fee to apply and artists may submit multiple applications; if an artist wishes for multiple sculptures to be considered, a separate application must be submitted for each sculpture. A preview of the complete application is available for download for your convenience; all materials must be submitted via the online application form.

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Required Artist Information

  • Artist’s bio and resume/CV
  • Brief statement or explanation of the proposed sculpture and other information related to the materials, installation needs, and potential siting. 
  • Photos or renderings of multiple views of the proposed sculpture (with maximum of five images)
  • 2 Professional references

Artist Benefits

  • $1,500 artist’s honorarium ($500 upon agreement execution, $500 upon installation, and $500 upon removal)
  • One $1,000 Best of Show chosen by the juror, awarded at Grand Opening in August 2020
  • One $200 People’s Choice as voted on through July 2021, awarded at Grand Opening of next exhibit in August 2021
  • The opportunity to interact directly with the public for about 2 hours at the Grand Opening event on Friday evening, August 7, 2020
  • Lodging via hotel or home stays during install or evening of Grand Opening event
  • Sales opportunity for exhibited sculpture


Submissions will be evaluated on artistic merit, creativity, public safety, appropriateness to theme, and durability in the outdoors. Work must be of the highest-quality design incorporated into its construction and be able to withstand adverse weather conditions (high winds, rain, heat, snow and freezing temperatures) and an unsupervised general audience. Unstable, fragile, dangerous, inappropriate or small, lightweight works will not be accepted.


Selected artists will be responsible for delivering, installing and removing his/her work of art, working closely with City of Dubuque staff. City of Dubuque can provide installation assistance in the form of man power and some onsite transportation or moving equipment; detail your needs when asked in the application form.

Works must be installed between July 27-August 6, 2020 in advance of the Grand Opening reception on Friday, August 7, 2020.

Deinstall must take place between July 19-24, 2021. Early pick-up of the work is not permitted.

Insurance and Sales

The City shall maintain insurance coverage on the work while on display at Art on the River for vandalism, theft, or damage. Insurance coverage is not provided on any works of art while in transit to or from Art on the River. 

Artworks are encouraged to be for sale and will remain on display for the time frame noted in the Artist Agreement Form. The City of Dubuque will coordinate all financial transactions relating to the sales of artwork. During the course of the year, special efforts will be made to promote the impact of public art to  encourage purchase the sculptures. The City will receive 25% of the sale price of any sculptures sold during or as a result of the show, with proceeds supporting the long-term funding for the Art on the River program. Any unsold artwork must be removed by the artist at the end of the exhibition period.

Project Timeline

  • Wednesday, May 6, 2020 - Application due by 11:59 p.m. CST
  • Week of June 8, 2020 - Notification of selected artists, contracts awarded
  • July 27-August 6, 2020- Delivery and installation of sculptures
  • August 7, 2020 - Grand Opening Reception
  • July 2021 - Removal of Work