Public Art Commission Finds Artists to Integrate Art
The Art in Public Places Program of Aurora, Colorado strives to enhance the quality of life in Aurora by creating unique public places that build “strong communities and healthy economies.” In December 2016, Roberta Bloom, the Public Art Coordinator for the city, needed to get the word out about a major commission opportunity. The Central Recreation Center project had a budget of $400,000 and a goal to integrate art into the project from the very beginning.
The project was and still is today in the planning stages. Roberta and the city identified this as an opportunity for an artist team to collaborate with the architects and design team. They didn’t want art to be an afterthought, they wanted it woven throughout the new community building. Engaging the artists as design team members creating architecturally integrated art maximizes the art budget by taking advantage of overlaps in the construction budget.
The city decided they wanted an “Aha!” moment starting from when you enter the facility. From there, the art could lead one through the building using a theme — taking community members on a journey.
As a Public Art Coordinator, Roberta has a network of local artists she can tap into, but for this project she wanted to reach out nationally to a wider network and variety of artists. The Central Rec Center posed a unique challenge to find an artist team who could create outstanding artwork, and who were experienced collaborating with architects and engineers.
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Roberta decided to find artists for the commission by advertising her Request for Qualifications (RFQ) through the CODAworx RFP Blast tool. The RFQ document stated the requirements for the project, described how the selected artist team would join a design team on a work in progress, and noted that the artists would be asked to explore the best sites for art.
She had an existing process for how she managed the applications, but what she really needed was to tap into a network of artists that she hadn’t seen before. As the international authority on commissioning art, CODAworx has a pool of 17,000 artists from around the world to whom Roberta could send her RFQ. She decided to target the opportunity to artists working in the mediums of: glass, flooring, wall art, suspended artwork, kinetic art, interactive art, and interior and exterior architectural elements.
CODAworx quickly sent the RFQ to Roberta’s targeted group of professional artists in two email blasts: once when she first scheduled the e-blast and again three days before the application deadline. As soon as the email went out, even over a holiday weekend in December, a “flurry of applications were coming in,” states Roberta.
The City of Aurora typically receives 30-60 applications for city art projects. After promoting this RFQ with the CODAworx RFP Blast tool, the State Arts Council, and other resources, 269 total applicants had applied by the deadline. According to Roberta, “They were all quality applications as well.” This gave her a tremendous pool of talent to choose from and allowed the city to raise the bar in the experience level of artists they would choose for finalists.
Due to the large number of applications, the art selection panel agreed to apply basic criteria such as demonstrated experience creating integrated art and working with a similar budget to narrow down the pool. This resulted in 79 highly qualified artists. The art selection panel then juried the pool down to 30, and eventually three clear finalists rose to the top. After an impressive in-person presentation based on only their qualifications, their professionalism, and how they addressed panel’s concerns, the artist team of David Griggs and Scott Parsons were selected for the Central Rec Center project.
David and Scott had strong experience working together on integrated art projects in the past. They both work heavily in glass and terrazzo, but have a wide variety of experience in numerous materials. The panel liked how they could work in both 2D and 3D, and their experience in working with architect and design teams on integrated art projects.
Currently, the artist team is in the stage of listening to the city and the parks and recreation department on their goals for this new recreation center. By early May 2017, they expect to have a theme for the integrated artwork and final concepts complete.
Following the success of the Central Rec Center, Roberta has since done another RFP Blast for a $200,000 memorial project honoring the innocent victims of a local movie theater shooting on July 20, 2012. This call received 151 applicants with a rush coming in up until two minutes before the deadline. After her successful experience reaching artists with the RFP Blast on these two projects, Roberta says she will definitely use CODAworx RFP tools in the future to reach new artists that can help forward the city’s goal of creating unique places for Aurora.
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