Imagine Art in Old Courthouse Square

Permanent Public Art is coming to Courthouse Square! 

The Public Art Program received over 140 submissions from artists across the country who hoped to be selected as finalists to submit design proposals for the permanent Courthouse Square public art project Imagine Art in Old Courthouse Square. Five finalists were identified through a competitive selection process and invited to submit designs. 

The survey is now closed. Thank you for your input! Learn more about each design proposal in the tabbed information below and check back soon for updates.

Finalist Design Proposals

  2. Benjamin Ball
  3. Laura Haddad & Tom Drugan
  4. Blessing Hancock
  5. Gordon Huether
  6. Ned Kahn

Please click each artist's name to view their proposal.



The City of Santa Rosa Public Art Program issued a Request for Qualifications seeking an artist or team of artists to design, fabricate and install site-specific public art at the north end of Old Courthouse Square which is the terminus of Mendocino Avenue in Downtown Santa Rosa, CA. The deadline to submit qualifications was January 13, 2020.  The Public Art Program received over 140 submissions from artists across the country. A selection panel was formed representing arts professionals, downtown business and property owners, downtown residents, and the Art in Public Places Committee. The selection process ultimately identified these five finalists who were invited to submit project proposals:

Benjamin Ball, Ball Nogues Studio, Los Angeles, CA
Laura Haddad & Tom Drugan, Seattle, WA
Blessing Hancock, Tuscon, AZ
Gordon Huether, Napa, CA
Ned Kahn, Sebastopol, CA


This public art opportunity is for an artist or team of artists to design, fabricate and install site-specific public art at the terminus of Mendocino Avenue at the north end of Old Courthouse Square in Downtown Santa Rosa, CA. 

The goal of this completed project is to provide the entire Santa Rosa community with a prominent artistic symbol that reflects the uniquely Santa Rosa values of innovation and cultural inclusivity. This art installation should inspire people living in, and visiting, our city to reflect on what is special about our community and encourage them to gather downtown to experience it first-hand. 

The artist or artist team selected for this project will create a dynamic public art installation that contributes to a vital, thriving space to connect with each other and with the space. The public art should be forward-thinking and express the innovation, diversity, and engagement of the community. The public art should help create a sense of place for Old Courthouse Square. To read the Request for Qualifications, click HERE.


Old Courthouse Square is a central public plaza in the heart of downtown Santa Rosa. The approved Old Courthouse Square Master Plan identifies an area along 4th Street, at the terminus of Mendocino Avenue, to be dedicated to public art. The square is seen by many as the heart of the downtown and even of the city and is regularly used for a variety of special events and community gatherings. The public art installation should take into account the existing and proposed future amenities at the square, including landscaping, hardscape, lighting and public art.


This commission is open to practicing, professional artists residing in the United States.


The total available funding for the project is $280,000 (all inclusive – design and construction) and comes from the City of Santa Rosa Public Art Fund.

ESTIMATED TIMELINE - UPDATED 10/5/20 (subject to change)
Due to the recent events related to the Glass Fire, the timeline for the final selection has been delayed. Please check back soon for updates.

January 13, 2020Deadline for artists to submit qualifications (EXTENDED)
February 12Finalist artists notified
February 24Project orientation for finalist artists
March 18 - June 30Project on hold due to COVID-19
July 1Project officially resumes
August 3Deadline for finalist artists to submit artwork proposals
August 14 - Sept 20Public display of artwork proposals & other engagement opportunities
TBDSelection panel recommendation to Art in Public Places Committee
TBDFinalize Artist Services Agreement with selected artist
TBD - December, 2021Artwork fabrication
January - February, 2022Artwork installation


Applications will be prescreened by the Arts Coordinator and then presented to the selection panel. The selection panel will identify and recommend three finalist artists based on the project selection criteria. The finalists will be invited to submit a specific proposal for which they will be paid an honorarium. All finalists will be expected to attend an orientation to learn more about the project site and materials prior to developing a specific proposal for the project. Using the project criteria, one artist will be selected to complete the project. The APPC will approve the final artist recommended by the Selection Panel, as well as the final artwork design.


The approved Old Courthouse Square master plan identifies an area along 4th Street dedicated to public art. During the design process for the reunified square, the public expressed a strong interest in two art projects for the square: restoring the Ruth Asawa panels AND the installation of a new public art project. The Ruth Asawa panels are being stored until a new fountain structure can be built. The Downtown Action Organization is working on moving this project forward. Funding for the new public art project is a combination of the required 1% of the construction budget for the square, and in-lieu fees from private development required to meet the City’s public art in private development ordinance. These sources of funding can only be used for public art.


Old Courthouse Square gets its name from the first courthouse on the site, dedicated by General Vallejo in 1884. The 1906 earthquake destroyed that building and much of Santa Rosa. Another courthouse was built on the site in 1908 and served as the county courthouse for another 58 years before being demolished in 1966. From 1967 to 2016, the square was bisected by a major thoroughfare connecting Santa Rosa Avenue and Mendocino Avenue. 

Old Courthouse Square was reunified in 2017. Granite slabs that served as the steps of the 1908 courthouse were saved and incorporated to form the frame around the lawn which is representative of the footprint of the original courthouse on the square. Reclaiming this public square in the center of downtown Santa Rosa was a statement by the community of its value on the importance of a communal, public gathering space. It also offers a chance to make a statement about how art plays a specific role in reflecting a community’s identity and in inspiring its aspirations for the future.

Santa Rosa is the largest city in Sonoma County with an estimated population of 177,586. The city operates as the county seat and serves a wider county population of 500,000.Artist: