Call for artists: 50th anniversary project with City of Sturgeon Bay

Celebrating Great Lakes science and a vibrant coastal community through an original artwork in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin

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The application period is now closed. (All applications were due by 11:59 p.m. central time, May 15, 2022.)


Inspired by the Great Lakes and science? So are we. To celebrate its 50th anniversary as a Sea Grant College Program, Wisconsin Sea Grant (“Sea Grant”) is commissioning a public artwork that will be displayed in the City of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin (“city”). Sea Grant and the city are partnering on this project.

Sea Grant is soliciting proposals from qualified artists (or artist teams); such proposals are due by May 15, 2022. An application portal for submitting proposals opened on April 12 (find it here).

Proposals must reflect a theme of Great Lakes science and/or Great Lakes coastal communities.

Proposals must not exceed a maximum budget of $15,000. More details are below.

Important deadlines:

  • Date this call for artists was announced: March 24, 2022
  • Application portal opened: April 12 (find it here)
  • Questions due date: April 22
  • Answers posted date: April 29
  • Proposals due: May 15 (by 11:59 p.m. central time)
  • Artist selection made: June (expected)
  • Completed artwork should be ready by: August 2022
  • Expected installation date of the artwork in Sturgeon Bay: Late summer/early fall 2022

About Wisconsin Sea Grant:

Wisconsin Sea Grant is a statewide program of basic and applied research, education, outreach and technology transfer dedicated to the stewardship and sustainable use of the nation’s Great Lakes resources. It is headquartered at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has additional employees at field offices in Superior, Green Bay, Manitowoc, Milwaukee and Bristol (Kenosha County), Wisconsin.

In 2022, Wisconsin Sea Grant celebrates its 50th anniversary. It is part of a national network of 34 university-based programs funded through the National Sea Grant College Program (part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, known as NOAA) and through matching contributions from participating states and the private sector.

Interested artists are encouraged to learn more about Wisconsin Sea Grant by:

This will give artists a better idea of our work and appropriate topics/imagery for the artwork.

About the City of Sturgeon Bay:

Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, is a vibrant coastal community where water is integral to its sense of place.

The city of Sturgeon Bay spans both sides of the waters of Sturgeon Bay. Historically, its waterfront housed sawmills, shipyards and commercial fishing. As commercial use of the waterfront has changed, the city has preserved public access to the water. It still has one shipyard that builds, repairs and provides winter layup for Great Lakes freighters. The arrival and departure of the winter fleet is an event closely followed by many.

The city’s waterfront also houses the U.S. Coast Guard, tugboats and a Maritime Museum with an observation tower. Seven city parks sit directly on the water and offer boat launches, recreational opportunities and access to the water.

Two downtown bridges connect a public walking path along much of the waterfront. Even when not on the water, there are multiple viewing points to look at the beauty of the bay and watch sailboats, kayaks, recreational fishers and power boats.

Sturgeon Bay is a successful combination of recreational and commercial waterfront with a vibrant downtown. It is the county seat of Door County, Wisconsin.

During 2022, many organizations in the city will have a focus on water, fish, coastal communities and related themes. The artwork created in response to this call for artists will be a key component of this attention to Great Lakes and water resources.

Theme the artwork should address:

Designs submitted for this call for artists should be creative, original concepts that tie in with some aspect of Great Lakes science or Great Lakes coastal communities. The artwork should also be suitable for display in the city of Sturgeon Bay, enhancing its location.

Sea Grant focuses on four broad priority areas:

  • Healthy coastal ecosystems
  • Sustainable fisheries and aquaculture
  • Resilient communities and economies
  • Environmental literacy and workforce development

A team of outreach specialists works on these broad areas. They are also addressed through research funded by Sea Grant at universities throughout the state.

Within these four broad areas are a wide variety of more specialized topics like:

  • Aquatic invasive species
  • Aquaculture (fish farming)
  • Coastal processes and engineering (erosion, flooding, Great Lakes water levels, etc.)
  • Emerging contaminants (PFAS, pharmaceuticals, etc. in the water)
  • Fish and fisheries (fish biology, aiding the commercial fishing and aquaculture industries)
  • Mapping and geographic information systems (GIS)
  • Preventing marine debris from entering our waters (microplastics, etc.)
  • Resilient coastal communities
  • Shipwrecks in the Great Lakes, Wisconsin maritime history
  • Social science related to the Great Lakes
  • Water quality

Exploring our website and social media accounts will give applicants a good overview of the types of subjects Sea Grant addresses.

We do not expect that one artwork will incorporate all of the themes listed above, nor does the artwork have to specifically include a theme listed above. Rather, we list these topics to give artists a starting point for coming up with a unique and engaging concept that will create awareness of Sea Grant and enliven a busy public space in Sturgeon Bay.

Working with scientists

Because Sea Grant is a science-based organization, any artwork commissioned by Sea Grant must be scientifically accurate. Based on the theme of your proposal, we can connect you (if selected) with an appropriate person with scientific expertise related to your theme, if such assistance is needed.

Example 1: If your proposal depicts a certain species of fish found in Lake Michigan, we can connect you to our fisheries scientist if you have questions about depicting that fish or its habitat accurately.

Example 2: If your theme is marine debris and encouraging the public to make sure plastics don’t enter our waters, we could connect you with a specialist to discuss aspects of your design.

We reserve the right to ask the artist whose proposal is selected to make modifications to the design if needed so that the finished artwork reflects scientific accuracy.

Working with our communications team

Because this call for artists is intended to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Wisconsin Sea Grant and draw attention to science, the Great Lakes and coastal communities, Sea Grant will engage in communications/public relations efforts surrounding this project.

By submitting a proposal for this project, artists are acknowledging and accepting that they will participate in these communications activities. Specific examples of activities that are likely to come up are: being interviewed by one of our writers for a written story, and being filmed by our videographer for a short video feature.

The City of Sturgeon Bay, the tourism organization Destination Sturgeon Bay and other related entities may also engage in similar publicity activities surrounding this artistic project.

We anticipate that this publicity will be beneficial to the selected artist as well, enhancing their professional visibility.

Location of finished artwork:

The artwork created by the selected artist will be displayed in the City of Sturgeon Bay at City Hall. It will be affixed (at the city’s expense) to the outside of this building located at 421 Michigan Street. Photographs of the location are below.

The artwork will be installed using the railing above the main entrance doors (where the snowflake decorations are in these photos.)

City Hall, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. The work of art will be installed using the railing on the second floor, above the main entrance (where the snowflake decorations are in this photo). This site is visible coming down one of the main streets in town.

City Hall, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. A closer view of the central entryway.

Technical specifications / acceptable materials:

This call for artists seeks proposals for a two-dimensional artwork made of durable materials that will withstand year-round, outdoor display in Wisconsin’s climate. We anticipate that this artwork will be displayed outdoors for at least one year (at which time it may continue being displayed outdoors, or be moved to an indoor location of Sea Grant and/or the city’s choosing). It will not be a permanent fixture on the exterior of City Hall.

The work will not be painted or otherwise created directly on the walls of City Hall; rather, we seek a durable artwork that will be affixed to an exterior wall via brackets or other suitable supports that the city chooses, and which will be done at city expense. The selected artist will be put in touch with, and expected to work with, city employees involved in installation to ensure a smooth process that protects both the building and the artwork.

While the choice of medium is up to the artist, possibilities include: painting on durable panel(s), glass mosaic or other type of mosaic on a durable panel or supporting material.

Please do not submit proposals for sculpture or other 3-dimensional artworks.


To fit and enhance the available space, the completed artwork should be no smaller than 4 feet high and 12 feet wide (4’ x 12’) and no larger than 5 feet high and 17 feet 6 inches wide (5’ x 17’6”).

Maximum weight:

In order to prevent damage to the building where it will be mounted, the completed artwork should weigh no more than 200 pounds.

Artist qualifications:

If chosen, the artist(s) must be able to get their completed artwork to the city no later than August 2022. (Sooner delivery is acceptable.)

Artists submitting applications must be capable of creating an artwork of the required size and should have prior experience creating large-scale, two-dimensional work.

Please submit:

  • Brief statement of interest (explain why you, or your team, are interested in this project and Great Lakes science/coastal communities)
  • Explain how you select your materials and what materials you would choose for this project
  • Brief written description of your proposed concept and how it relates to Great Lakes science/Great Lakes coastal communities
  • A rough sketch or other rendering of your proposed design for Sea Grant (optional)
  • Up to 10 photos of your previous completed work
  • Budget (more information below)
  • Resume / CV
  • Two professional references (related to your artwork)
  • Artist statement (optional)
  • Link to your website, if you have one (optional)
  • Supplementary material (optional: biography, press, interviews)


Total budget for the project should not exceed $15,000. The budget does not need to include installation costs/materials.

The budget should include items such as:

  • Materials to create the artwork
  • Artist’s time
  • Other necessary expenses for creating the artwork
  • Travel or shipping costs to deliver or send the artwork to Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin

How to submit a proposal:

A link to an application portal will open on or around April 12, 2022 on the website of Wisconsin Sea Grant. Check the website at at that time, or contact Jennifer Smith at to be added to a list to be notified when the online application portal is open.

UPDATE: The application portal is now open. Find it here.

How proposals will be evaluated:

Proposals received by the due date will be evaluated by a review committee that will consist of Sea Grant staff and Sea Grant Advisory Council member(s), at least one representative from the City of Sturgeon Bay and possibly others.

Proposals will be evaluated on artistic quality, creative interpretations of the theme, technical skill and the likelihood that the selected artist(s) will be able to deliver a finished artwork fitting the specifications on time (as judged based on their prior experience and references).

Those submitting proposals may be asked to participate in a brief virtual interview with the selection committee.

Questions about this call for artists:

Persons interested in submitting a proposal who have questions about this document—or topics not clarified in this document–must raise them by April 22, 2022 by contacting Jennifer Smith, Science Communicator, at Wisconsin Sea Grant. Please submit questions in writing to with the subject line “Question about artist call.”

In the interest of helping other potential proposal submitters who have similar questions, questions received and their answers will be added to the Wisconsin Sea Grant website on this page. We will post answers to questions as soon as we are able to verify the needed information.

To guarantee a response to your question, questions must be submitted by April 22, 2022. Late questions may or may not be answered. We will not post name(s) of who asked the questions.

Acceptance/rejection of proposals:

Sea Grant reserves the right to accept or reject all proposals submitted, in whole or in part. Sea Grant makes no representations that a contract will be awarded to any proposer responding to this request. Sea Grant reserves the right to reject any and all proposals responding to this invitation without indicating any reason(s) for such rejection(s). Sea Grant also reserves the right to postpone due dates for its own convenience and to withdraw this solicitation at any time without prior notice.

Public records:

Proposers are notified that information submitted in response to this call for artists may be made available for public inspection according to the Public Records Law of the State of Wisconsin or other applicable public records laws.


A contract with the Aquatic Sciences Center/Wisconsin Sea Grant, a division of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will be established with the awarded artist or team. If you apply as a team, name one person as the designated team leader. The contract will be between Aquatic Sciences Center/Wisconsin Sea Grant and the team leader.

Ownership and copyright:

Artist(s) selected to create the commissioned artwork will be required to confirm in writing that they are the original creators of their designs, have not copied anyone else’s design and that their design does not infringe upon anyone else’s intellectual property rights.

Waiver of Rights Pursuant to the Visual Artists Rights Act:

Because the work of art created is not intended to be displayed permanently on the exterior of Sturgeon Bay City Hall, we will ask the selected artist to sign a Waiver of Rights Pursuant to the Visual Artists Rights Act. (See an example here.)

It is our intention that, after a period of at least one year of public display at City Hall (possibly longer), it would be moved to another location that is mutually agreeable to Wisconsin Sea Grant and the City of Sturgeon Bay.