Public Art

What is public art? A simple definition is "art in public spaces." Public art can include sculptures, memorials, murals, integrated landscape or architectural work, light displays, digital media, community art, interactive, performances, festivals and more! Public art is often site-specific, meaning the artwork was created specifically for the space or community. Public art creates a destination, invites critique, inspires photographs and initiates a memorable experience.

Check out this February 2018 video from Fayetteville's Convention and Visitors Bureau - Experience Fayetteville. It features Matt Miller - the artist who painted the mural on N. College Avenue:

About Fayetteville's Murals

It might surprise you to learn that most of the public murals you see around town were not commissioned by the City of Fayetteville. Many are on privately owned businesses or residences.

Are there City ordinances about murals on private property?

The City does not have any ordinances restricting the installation of murals on privately owned structures, and no permits are required. Neighborhood Property Owners Associations, however, may have their own rules, so be sure to check with your local POA if you wish to install a mural on your property.

There are City rules against graffiti, which is defined as “any inscription, word, figure, design, symbol or insignia which is marked, etched, scratched, drawn, painted or otherwise affixed to or placed upon public or private property located within the city to the extent that the same was not authorized in advance by the owner.” Graffiti offenses can result in a fine of up to $500 or 90 days jail time, so always secure permission before breaking out the brushes. 

Does the City have funding for artists to create public artworks?

The City of Fayetteville does not have a designated fund to pay for public art. In general, public art on City property is created and paid for as part of a larger project, such as the construction of a parking deck, retaining wall, or bridge structure. 

What about murals (or other artwork) on public property?

Any artwork created on City-owned property must be done with the permission and approval of the City of Fayetteville.

How are artworks / artists chosen for City-sponsored public murals and other artworks?

When the City undertakes a development project that includes a public art element, it puts out a Request for Qualifications (RFQ), asking interested artists to apply. The RFQ includes all the information about the proposed artwork, including the location and scale, acceptable mediums, the rate of compensation for the artist and the timeline for completion. Artists are generally asked to submit images of their past work, a professional resume and a statement of qualifications and interest in the project. These RFQs are submitted to the Fayetteville Arts Council for review.

From this pool of applicants, the Arts Council may select a few artists and request a scale rendering of their proposed mural, a written description of the work, a budget summary and a suggested maintenance plan. In this case, each artist is given a stipend for producing this rendering, regardless of whether or not they are selected for the final project. The amount of the stipend will vary depending on the scale and scope of the work.

The Fayetteville Arts Council and project staff will review all of the proposals and select one for the final mural. The City then draws up a contract with the chosen artist and the work begins!

How are artists notified of RFQs for public art?

The City distributes a press release calling for artist applications whenever there is an art element in a City project. RFQs for public art are also publicized through the City’s social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can also visit the City’s “procurement portal,” where all RFP opportunities are published.

Cultural Arts Corridor - 2019 Bond Initiative

The City of Fayetteville presented several bond initiatives to voters on April 9, 2019. Voters approved the Cultural Arts Corridor initiative. 

Construction of an Arts Corridor (including potential new or replacement parking facilities) - $30 million

A multi-purpose investment in Fayetteville’s Downtown/Entertainment District, the Arts Corridor will bring cultural attractions and activate the outdoor environment in a 50-acre tract downtown. A number of destinations and preserved green spaces along the Razorback Greenway will create this vibrant and memorable civic space. This transformative project will create a tourist destination to bring people and new businesses to the center of town to generate tax revenues as an ongoing economic engine for our downtown. 

Some features include:

  • Public art
  • Streetscaping
  • Enhanced pedestrian paths
  • Gathering spaces that integrate the natural landscape with the urban
  • Preserved ecosystems of streams and trees in the heart of downtown
  • Parking Facilities

Fayetteville Arts Council

The Fayetteville Arts Council was created by Resolution 60-07 on April 3, 2007 and amended by Ordinance 5332 on July 6, 2010. Arts Council meetings are recorded and can be viewed in the City's online meeting archive (search for year and date under Fayetteville Arts Council).

The inaugural Arts Council members worked with City staff to create the Arts Council Action Plan 2009-2012 with the following five goals. Previous and current Arts Councils continue to pursue these goals:

  1. Incorporate functional art into municipal infrastructure;
  2. Leverage the Cultural Arts District;
  3. Clarify policies and procedures related to art review;
  4. Advocate for public recognition and patronage of the arts; and
  5. Identify alternatives and the associated costs and benefits for a permanent public arts funding stream.

Recent Commissions and Acquisitions

N. College Avenue Mural

Rendering of College Avenue Mural - Artist: Matt Miller

Engaging a moment of calm for the onlooker is priority one - prompting the driver enough to slow them down, but not distract. Something to look forward to while beginning your commute. It’s a functional aesthetic signaling that you’re entering a walk-able community, reflecting the City of Fayetteville’s goal of a safe passageway for pedestrians (and their animal friends).

Each circle represents the human layers that connect us all. The meditating figure inspires us to reflect and reveals how her positive energy balances the hurried movement of the street, with the fox as her protector.

The theme of the mural is “Nature doesn’t hurry yet everything still gets done.”

How do you touch millions of hearts 7 seconds at a time? The colors of nature and simple shapes create a calming, therapeutic effect. Vibrant colors represent a thriving ecosystem with imagery that represents a reflective culture. This mural will become a part of our history, our folk, our expression of who we are as a community, yet it doesn’t impose on its natural surroundings. It enhances without adding to the chaos of high traffic. -Matt Miller, artist

Details about why the mural was painted, how the artist was selected and additional information about the the artist, Matt Miller and his concept, can be found in Legistar File ID 2017-0725 (Staff Memo and Review Form).

Tsa La Gi Trail Mural

Holding On and Letting Go: The Struggles and Strength of the Tsa La Gi, 2017 - Mural by Stacy Bates

This mural focuses on the culture, traditions and strength of the Cherokee people. Bates painted Cherokee hands near the ground to show the need to grasp tightly to their lands while being forced out. The hands are holding onto the feather wand because she feels that it represents the Cherokee, desperately holding onto their important traditions, as well as trying to hold onto their strength (the golden eagle feathers). The wand is used during many Cherokee events, including the eagle dance, when the eagle spirit is welcomed after an eagle is killed. Seven golden eagle tail feathers are used when making making the feather wand. Of the seven feathers, four are painted whole and the others are partial - representing those Cherokee that passed on during the journey. 

In the background, there will be a detailed pattern, using inspiration from the Cherokee rivercane baskets. Baskets were used for gathering, storing, transporting and food preparation. The women were said to create these baskets with no preparation or pattern; they wove them so tightly that some baskets could hold water - representing the strength of the Cherokee during this terrible time while walking the Trail of Tears.

Details about why the mural was painted, how the artist was selected and additional information about the the artist, Stacy Bates and her concept, can be found in Resolution No. 119-17.

Ongoing Projects

Fayetteville Art Walk Interactive Map

Find public art installations around the City. Interactive app lets you browse by map or by image, and zoom into the location.

Utility Box Beautification

Since 2013, Fayetteville artists have been beautifying our community by turning utility boxes into works of art. It has been extremely successful at discouraging graffiti, tagging and vandalism on city-owned utility light-signal boxes. The project is managed by the Keep Fayetteville Beautiful Committee, the Recycling and Trash Collections Division and the Community Policing Division of the Fayetteville Police Department.

The City issues a public Call for Artist Proposals via press release and social media about once a year for this project and typically selects 4-5 traffic-light utility boxes to be painted for each call. Artists’ proposals should reflect the themes of recycling or waste reduction, abstract art, Fayetteville history, or nature. Stipends are available for artists and funds are allotted for supplies.

For additional information, please contact Heather Ellzey:


Topo Map for School Avenue

Topo Map for School Avenue (2018) is a site-specific public artwork commissioned by the City of Fayetteville and Walton Arts Center with support from the National Endowment for the Arts. Artist Stacy Levy; with installation assistance from Custom Pavement Maintenance and Safety of Van Buren, volunteers, and Fenix Fayetteville artists; completed the four-block-long installation in May 2018 for the Walton Arts Center's Artosphere Festival.

The artwork meets two goals of the Fayetteville Arts Council Action Plan. One is to incorporate functional art into municipal infrastructure. Levy’s Topo Map for School Avenue is a visual education tool, reminding viewers of stormwater issues in Fayetteville’s hilly landscape. Levy uses thermoplastic materials to create a life-size topographic map on School Avenue between Dickson and Mountain Streets. Markings of multiple colors represent micro gradients, indicating steepness and where stormwater, from rain or ice/snow, travels and collects on the impervious asphalt street. The public artwork also meets the second goal, to leverage the Cultural Arts District, by adding to the existing cultural amenities in the area and attracting tourists.

In 2013, the City of Fayetteville, in collaboration with the University of Arkansas Community Design Center and the Walton Arts Center, applied for and received a $100,000 Our Town Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Our Town Grants fund creative placemaking projects. A proof of concept for a streetscape project was created with the grant funds. Information in the Walkscapes From Sidewalks to Rooms: A Complete Street for School Avenue report shows how the City and stakeholders successfully meet the NEA grant program goals to “lay the groundwork for systemic changes that sustain the integration of arts, culture and design into strategies for strengthening communities by advancing local economic, physical and/or social outcomes.”

Upstream Art: Storm Drain Murals for Water Quality

This unique and engaging educational program utilizes art to communicate the function and importance of storm drains. UpStream Art gives artists the opportunity to express themselves with semi-permanent public art in the form of a small-scale outdoor storm drain mural. The purpose of UpStream Art is to draw attention to the usually discreet concrete and iron infrastructure with the hope that observers stop and think about where the water flows after it enters a storm drain. If residents understand that stormwater flows untreated to creeks, streams, rivers and lakes, then they will be more conscious of potential pollutants that can enter those waterways. The project was lead by water quality experts from Northwest Arkansas Stormwater Education and the University of Arkansas's Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service. As a Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permittee, the City of Fayetteville is required by the Federal Clean Water Act to educate the public about community stewardship of water resources with emphasis on long-term solutions to stormwater pollution.

Green Candy Art Action 2017

In 2017, Fayetteville's Convention and Visitors Bureau, Experience Fayetteville, presented Green Candy, an art action aimed to create community conversations around waste and sustainability through engaging art projects. Curated by JustKids (check out the JustKids Green Candy Art Auction recap video).