UpStream Art 2023 FAQ & Rules

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Every summer since 2016, the City of Springfield’s Stormwater Team has commissioned artists to paint murals at select City storm drains. This project, called UpStream Art, supports artists and beautifies the city while increasing awareness of the connection between City streets and local waterways. Our goal is to inspire community members to change their everyday behaviors to prevent pollutants from entering neighborhood storm drains.

Springfield’s stormwater system is an important part of Springfield’s infrastructure that prevents flooding. It’s largely out of sight and out of mind because it’s mostly underground, yet it directly links our homes to our rivers. That’s because, when it rains, the water washes over the city, collecting contaminants such as yard chemicals, vehicle fluids, animal waste, soaps from car washing, litter, yard debris, and more. These flow into storm drains and, unfiltered, out to the Willamette and McKenzie Rivers, where they can harm the rivers and streams we all rely on and enjoy.

Springfield is located between two rivers, the McKenzie River to the north and the Willamette River to the south. Due to Springfield’s location and the ease of access to these rivers some of the earliest industries were founded on and utilized these waterways! We all need water to survive, and the health and water quality of our local rivers and streams factor into the local activities we enjoy. UpStream Art provides opportunities to consider the water that surrounds us, the unseen water infrastructure that sustains us, and the good choices we’re already making that preserve Springfield’s health and our future.

  1. Review the “Frequently Asked Questions” you’re currently reading. This can also be downloaded as a PDF.
  2. Create an original sketch or graphic of your design idea. Ensure you can finish painting it during the assigned times (spanning 2 days at 8 hours each day), using water-soluble traffic paints provided by the City. The artwork must include the following information somewhere in the design: (a) City of Springfield and (b)
  3. Complete the UpStream Art Artist Application, located on this website. It will request a short statement of how your design reflects this year’s theme which is: “Clean rivers start here.”
  4. Email your (a) completed application and (b) original art design, along with any optional materials, by midnight on Wednesday, June 14, 2023. Details on how to address the email, and more, are on page 2 of the Artist Application under “Submitting your entry.”

First, please review the judge’s criteria (below) to know what they will look for. Only art referring to this year’s theme will be considered: “Clean rivers start here.”

Second, include the following somewhere in the design: (a) City of Springfield (b)

Third, for anyone new to UpStream Art, potential sources for inspiration are listed below, yet this list is not exhaustive. Get creative! Here’s some ideas:

  • Anything left outside that rain may wash away can end up in a storm drain and then in our rivers. This means our actions within the city impact the natural world, at the same time the natural world impacts Springfield. Our connections could be in terms of behaviors, causes/effects, shared locations, shared resources, the natural water cycle impacting the City, stormwater infrastructure, diverse groups and their relationships.
  • Relate to visitors who will be walking in the area. They may be residents, shoppers, dance school students, elementary or middle-school students, etc.
  • View the “Informational Materials” in the “Stormwater Information” section of our website for specific topics:

Oregonians! The UpStream Art “Call for Artists” is open to all Oregon residents with a talent for painting and an interest in helping protect Springfield’s water quality.

No, you do not have to be a Springfield resident. Anyone living in Oregon can apply.

Yes, all Oregon residents are invited to apply even if they have participated in UpStream Art before. To ensure a variety of styles, artists are limited to winning 2 years in a row. After taking the third year off, artists may apply again on their fourth year. Artists who have won before, but not for 2 consecutive years, may also apply.

Yes, artists can re-submit a design that was not selected for UpStream Art in a previous year. Keep in mind that judges select work that communicates that year’s theme. For 2023, the theme is: “Clean rivers start here.”

Because only emailed submissions will be accepted for UpStream Art 2023, there will be no physical artwork accepted nor returned. If your artwork is not selected, you will retain all rights to your design. However, if you are selected as a winner, you will be asked to sign a contract granting the City the rights to your winning artwork.

Completed UpStream Art Artist Applications, including one original sketch or graphic of your design, must be received by midnight, Wednesday, June 14, 2023. Late submissions will not be considered. If you do not receive an emailed confirmation that your submission was received within 72 hours of submittal, it is your responsibility to call 541.726.3693 to check on the status of your application.

Winning designs will be selected by a diverse panel of judges comprised of educators and representatives from the art community, Springfield business leaders, and City staff.

  1. Interpretation and clarity of theme: “Clean rivers start here.”
  2. Creativity and originality to this year’s message of “Clean rivers start here.”
  3. Quality of artistic composition
  4. Overall impression of art
  5. Feasibility of the artist completing the work within the 16-hour timeframe (8 hours per day, over two days)

All winning artists will be required to participate in a mandatory orientation that will include a brief background on stormwater, safety while working near traffic, storm drain safety, as well as information about the painting days. It is currently scheduled for 6pm on Wednesday, July 12, 2023.

Artists who do not attend will have breached their contract, their winning status will be revoked, and the next runner-up will be selected to replace them. Artists with a scheduling conflict must alert City staff and make alternate arrangements for the orientation prior to July 12, 2023.

If selected to participate in the UpStream Art project artists must: sign a contract, complete the mural within the allotted time, use specialized sidewalk paints provided by the City, paint the design submitted and approved by the City, and release ownership of the storm drain mural artwork to the City of Springfield. Artists that complete all requirements listed will receive $1000 in compensation. The designs that become selected will become sole property of the City of Springfield, while designs not selected will remain the property of the artist.

Painting surfaces are located on City sidewalks and adjacent to City storm drains. The size of each painting area may vary, but is approximately 4-feet by 6-feet. Each area will be prepared with a clear concrete sealer before the painting begins. It is up to the artist’s discretion whether they fill the entire prepared area, or part of it.

The 2023 art installations will be on the ground in north Springfield, at storm drains near the intersection of Yolanda Avenue and 20th Street. We’re excited that this will be our first UpStream Art project in this neighborhood, as that will reinforce the message that all storm drains across the City empty to local waterways, including in this neighborhood. It’s perfect for our theme, “Clean water starts here!”

The City will prepare the area for painting: pressure wash, paint the sites with a clear concrete sealer, and mark off the paintable areas with painter’s tape. Slab sizes may vary.

Additional notes about the painting locations:

  • Please contain the painting within the prepared (clear-sealed) area, which will be marked off by painter’s tape.
  • Manhole covers, if any, are part of the painting area and can be painted.
  • The metal grates of storm drains cannot be painted.
  • Painting the concrete “floor” of the curb is allowed, but discouraged, due to increased wear from flowing water, debris moving along the street gutter, street sweeping, car tires, etc.
  • The art cannot enter the street area. In other words: no painting the asphalt.
  • If your design idea has special requirements, please contact us and we will see what’s possible!

After artists receive notice their design was selected, they will be assigned to a painting location. They will learn this location at the mandatory Artist Orientation on July 12, or possibly sooner. Since each spot is slightly different, the artist may want to modify their design. Only MINOR changes will be allowed and must be re-submitted to the City for approval by 5 p.m. on Friday, July 14, 2023 (after the Artist Orientation). The City maintains the rights to accept or decline any alterations to the original selected artwork.

Artists must use paints provided by the City of Springfield, which are specialized for high-use areas such as sidewalks and roadways. The brand is Ennis-Flint traffic paint and it is water soluble. Staff will provide primary colors (red, black, yellow, blue, and white) and artists can mix them prior to arriving for the mural pointing. For examples of how the colors mix, peruse photos of previous murals at

These tips may help with planning your design and your painting process:

  • Paints dry in approx. 20 minutes so keep them damp! City staff will provide a spray bottle to keep the paint from drying – it works like a charm!
  • Keep lids on all containers to prevent drying.
  • Mix all the colors you need prior to starting your mural to help keep paints fresh.
  • Go easy on the red – it is VERY intense!

The City will have protective measures and materials in place to prevent any accidently spilled materials from entering the stormwater system. Artists will learn more at the UpStream Art Artist Orientation.

Nothing! City staff will power wash each painting site before the project begins. We will also apply a clear concrete sealer before and after the painting is complete.

Artists must be in-person to paint their designs at the designated Springfield location between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. during a two-day period: Thursday, July 20 and Friday, July 21. Artists are permitted to finish early. Murals must be completed by 4 p.m. on July 21st.

Mural artwork is anticipated to last approximately 5 years. The City periodically seals existing murals to help it last longer. The City reserves the right to remove storm drain artwork at any time. Common reasons for removal are sidewalk construction or sun bleaching.

Artist’s schedule

UpStream Art Artist Application due: Midnight on Wednesday, June 14, 2023
Artists notified of selection: Week of July 3, 2023
Artist Contract finalized and returned to the City: 5pm on Friday, July 7, 2023
UpStream Art mandatory Artist Orientation: 6pm, Wednesday, July 12, 2023, held online
Final design modifications due
(based on assigned mural location):
5pm on Wednesday, July 14, 2023
Mural painting: 8am to 4pm, Thursday, July 20, 2023

8am to 4pm, Friday, July 21, 2023

All art must be completed: 4pm, Friday, July 21, 2023 (ok to finish sooner)

Additional questions?

You may contact us at and please put “UpStream Art” in the subject line.

View this FAQ as a PDF
to 2023 Artist Application
To UpStream Art Virtual Tour
To UpStream Art main page