Call for Artists: Holgate Library | Exterior Site Enclosure Artwork

Rendering of the art site, view looking towards the northeast corner

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Holgate Library
Exterior Site Enclosure Artwork
Request for Qualifications

In partnership with Multnomah County Library (MCL), the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) invites artists and artist teams living in Oregon and Washington to submit qualifications for a site-specific exterior artwork at the newly constructed Holgate Library as part of the Library Capital Bond Projects.

Approved by Multnomah County voters in 2020, the Library Capital Bond Projects will include expansions and renovations to seven branch libraries; building a destination library in East County; adding gigabit speed internet to all libraries; and creating a materials handling and distribution center, also known as the Operations Center. The renovation and expansion of Holgate Library is part of the first phase of the bond project. The Exterior Site Enclosure Artwork at the library is one of two public art elements intended for the new site.

One artist/artist team will be selected to create a  2-dimensional wall-mounted artwork on the south and west facing walls of the Exterior Site Enclosure, a purpose built multi-use space for staff bike parking and library trash receptacles. The artwork may encompass texture and 3D elements if appropriate for the site and within budget. Located within the outdoor patio on the north side of the building, between the new library and the new parking lot, the artwork will be highly visible from SE 79th Avenue as people arrive at the library. In addition, the artwork will act as the backdrop to ground floor flex spaces that will be used by library staff and patrons for classes and events. The budget available for the commission comes from Multnomah County’s Percent for Art Program and is $30,000 for the design fee, with a separate allocation for materials, fabrication and installation.

Submissions are due by Thursday, November 3, 2022 at 5:00pm PDT. 

The full request for qualifications can be downloaded here. Further information about the project can be accessed here.

Art Opportunity

We are seeking an artist or artist team to create a site-specific 2-dimensional wall-mounted artwork for Holgate Library’s Exterior Site Enclosure, a purpose built functional outdoor space for staff bike parking and library trash receptacles. The artwork will wrap the enclosure on the south and west sides and should be a durable exterior installation that can withstand the elements, is graffiti resistant and easily cleanable. 

The Exterior Site Enclosure will creatively anchor the north entry outdoor patio, a peaceful urban oasis surrounded by trees and greenery central to the Foster-Powell, Lents and other Southeast Portland neighborhoods where library patrons, staff and community members alike can take a moment away from busy city life to relax. With pedestrian traffic from the new north entry parking lot and SE 79th Avenue, the artwork will be one of the first things visible as people enter the library. The south facing wall of the Exterior Site Enclosure will be parallel to the main building and act as the backdrop to the ground floor flex spaces which will host educational and recreational library and community events. 

While the site primarily suits a 2-dimensional wall-mounted artwork, there is a strong desire to incorporate texture and/or 3-dimensional elements, created through either illusion or physical components, depending on the artist’s vision and budget allocations. Use of mediums such as ceramics, mosaics, tile, paint, light, color, wood, metal and more could be considered. We expect the artist(s) to determine the medium for their work through conversations with the project team, taking other design considerations for the space into account. For example, landscaping and overall design themes, concepts and palettes.

In addition, the design team has stewarded a series of engagement sessions with the local community over the last year and so there is a deep desire for the diverse range of populations whom the library serves to be reflected and represented within the artwork. As the north entry and outdoor patio will be one of the main entrances to the new library, the artwork will play a fundamental role in creating a sense of welcome well before walking through the building doors. The outdoor patio brings the experience of the library outside, with seating and tables for gathering and the flexibility for outdoor activities and library programming, the space encourages connection.

The south wall of the Exterior Site Enclosure is approximately 8ft in height and 36ft in length, with the west wall measuring at approximately 8ft in height and 11ft in width. The total area for art is approximately 288sq.ft. on the south elevation and 88sq.ft. on the west, with a combined total of 376sq.ft. A planter with low growing shrubs will wrap around the base of the enclosure on both the south and west sides, creating a decorative protective buffer for the artwork as it will be installed at heights accessible to the general public, where many people will be able to reach and touch it, including children. Therefore the finished artwork must be durable, easy to maintain, and tamper resistant. Pedestrian traffic from the parking lot, street and other neighborhood amenities will benefit from close interaction with the artwork, so it should be assumed that people will touch the artwork over time. 

The wall behind the artwork will be a CMU (Concrete Masonry Unit) block wall. Blocks will be 8inx16in, of standard pattern and ground-face finish with the color to be determined by the architecture team. Depending on the artist’s vision for the site, the project team can provide a smooth skim coat surface to enhance the quality and lifespan of the artwork. In order to encompass texture and 3-dimensional elements, the overall depth of the artwork can extend up to 4in maximum from the face of the CMU wall. More information on the material specifications for the Exterior Site Enclosure can be found in the supplemental materials.

The artist(s) will be responsible for delivering a completed piece of artwork to be installed on site as a final deliverable. The project team will coordinate installation with the artist(s), RACC, the construction contractor and any third party vendors, if necessary. Artist(s) are invited to either conduct the final installation personally or be part of reviewing the final install, depending on the medium and vision for the artwork.

Information Sessions

  • Monday October 17, 2022 at 1.00pm on Instagram Live with Mario and Sophie from RACC. Follow @regionalarts on Instagram to stay informed of this and other upcoming opportunities. Watch the previously recorded IG Live Info Session here
  • Monday October 24, 2022 at 5pm on Zoom with Sophie from RACC and Emily from Bora Architecture and Interiors, the design team leading the Holgate Library construction project. Watch the previously recorded Zoom Info Session here

We strongly encourage you to attend an info session, especially if you are a first-time applicant. The project team will share information about this opportunity and go over the steps of how to submit application materials.

If you have questions about the Zoom info session or need any accommodations in order to attend, please email project manager, Sophie, at shook@racc.org.

Artwork Goals & Qualities

The goal is for the many works of art in the library to represent the myriad of communities that live, work and play in Foster-Powell, Lents and other surrounding Southeast Portland neighborhoods, especially under-represented communities. Communities served by Holgate Library should be reflected in the new works of art through artistic expression and creative storytelling. There is a deep desire for the Exterior Site Enclosure artwork to instill a sense of place and belonging, creating a warm, inviting and welcoming environment where imagination, interests and engagement can be inspired.

Communities served by Holgate Library include Black/African American, Indigenous Peoples, Somali and other East African immigrants, Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin speakers), Vietnamese, Slavic and Eastern European, Malay, Bhutanese, Iraqi, Tongan, Latinx (not just Spanish language speakers), youth and elders, LGBTQIA2S+, people living with disabilities and neurodivergence, people experiencing housing insecurity. More information from the community engagement process so far, including demographics, can be shared with the artist/artist team to ensure authentic understanding and representation.

The overall concept for the design of Holgate Library is based on the butterfly, a reference and language for design rather than literal interpretation (see the supplemental materials provided for more information). There is a distinctive inward fold gesture along the building façade, evoking a nimble and resilient form of a butterfly, a universal symbol of resilience, hope, beauty and transformation. Many qualities that are reflected in and embodied by the array of communities served by Holgate Library. This project aims to be a point of connection, cohesion and unity, acting as a central point for the diverse range of stories and lived experiences shared within this communal space to coexist.

Humans’ relationship to nature, especially in the Pacific Northwest, is also central to this concept. On the interior of the building, this manifests as a focus on the unique patterns found in nature. As part of the community engagement process so far, library patrons were asked to participate in the selection of the color palette for the interior design. Option C, prioritizing calming natural colors and repeating geometric patterns that complement the building’s wooden structure, won the public vote. Additionally, there is a public vote underway to select the color of the folded metal panel which will wrap the exterior of the building, options can be viewed here. The artwork should be expressive and complementary with the exterior color selected by the community.

We are seeking artwork that considers culturally specific color palettes, shapes, patterns, symbols and storytelling inspired by the various communities served by Holgate Library. Innovatively connecting the vast array of community stories and experiences together is desired. If the artist chooses to do so, further collective visioning through engagement with the community would likely inspire even more creative suggestions.

The Exterior Site Enclosure artwork should take these design directives into consideration, complementing the overall building architecture, exterior and interior design palette and aligning with the overall goals to represent and reflect the local community in the space. Themes of nature and butterflies can be drawn upon to inspire the final artwork design, however we are not necessarily expecting literal interpretations or representations of these concepts in the artwork.

Budget

The selected artist/artist team will receive a $30,000 design fee for this opportunity to create a site-specific exterior 2-dimensional wall-mounted artwork. This fee is inclusive of the following expenses; artist fees, design development, community engagement and communication/coordination with the design team, construction team and third-party contractors who will help to fabricate and install the artwork. Funds for materials, fabrication and installation will be covered separately through Multnomah County’s Percent for Art Program.

Community Engagement & Participatory Design

Community engagement has been a central component to this project. The broader community that will be served by the library have been invited to participate in the design process so far by contributing their experiences and ideas through open houses, tabling events, leave-behind boards, and community design advocate conversations. An array of design priorities emerged during these engagements with community members and key stakeholders which should be considered by the artist(s), more details can be found in the supplemental materials. Beyond that, feedback and other results from the community engagement process so far, including demographics, can be shared with the artist/artist team to ensure authentic understanding and representation of the local communities.

We are seeking an artist/artist team who welcomes and reflects the diverse communities that are served by Holgate Library within their process and work. Genuine understanding and demonstration of community engagement practices in existing artistic practice, past work and/or other key areas of experience where skillsets may be transferable, such as teaching, mentorship, community organizing, care work and other non-typical/non-traditional examples of embedding community into process and practice, are preferred.

Prior to finalizing a design, the selected artist/artist team will plan and facilitate at least two engagement sessions to meet with community stakeholders to gather information and insight into the library, community and area. The artist(s) is expected to welcome and encourage community participation within the design phase, seeking feedback, input and inspiration from key stakeholders to ensure the final artwork meets the intended goals as outlined above, specifically community representation. Neighboring Midland Library could be available as a venue to host such community engagement events. Interpretation, translation and other access services can be made available, if needed, and coordinated through MCL and/or RACC, if enough time is given in advance.

The artist(s) should expect that working or in-progress design materials and narratives may be requested for wider community communication updates and will be coordinated in conjunction with the project team.

About the Library Capital Bond Project

As part of the Library Capital Bond Projects, Holgate Library will be a new 21,000 square foot building due to be constructed on the existing site at the northeast corner of SE Holgate and SE 79th Avenue in the Foster-Powell neighborhood in Southeast Portland. The current 6,060 square foot building will be demolished to make way for the expanded future library in order to provide additional space and an enjoyable experience for all through major updates, sustainable building features and more robust services. The revised site will include a new north entryway and outdoor patio, featuring an Exterior Site Enclosure for library trash receptacles and public bike parking.

The new construction of Holgate Library is part of the first phase of the Library Capital Bond Projects and will be one of the first to reopen, currently scheduled for late spring/early summer 2024.

Eligibility

This opportunity is open to artists/artist teams based in Oregon and Washington. If applying as a team, at least one member must meet the residence eligibility requirement. Those with significant current or past connections, or those with interest and ability to create meaningful connections, to Holgate Library and the surrounding Southeast Portland neighborhoods are preferred. Applicants who have an interest in and/or experience with community engagement processes, including social practice, which inform their approach and art practice are strongly encouraged to apply. Strong consideration will be given to artists who have experience working with youth and residents from historically underrepresented communities to develop their artwork including communities of color as well as immigrant and refugee communities.

MCL and RACC are committed to reflecting the cultural richness of our city by promoting opportunities for emerging and historically underrepresented artists. Artists/artist teams representing communities of color are strongly encouraged to apply. RACC is committed to engaging new communities of artists and expanding the range of artistic and cultural expression represented in the City’s public art collection.

The selected artist/artist team must be able to create, complete and deliver their artwork by March 2024.

Selection Process

At this time, the selection process will be entirely virtual. A selection panel composed of Multnomah County Library representatives, local artists, community members and East County residents, Library Bond Project team members and Holgate Library design team members will review artists’ submissions and choose more than one finalist to invite to interview for the commission.

Overall, the purpose of the interview is to allow the artist(s) and panel to meet each other and engage in a mutually beneficial and informative conversation. It’s an opportunity for the artist(s) to better understand the context of the project and the intentions the selection panel has for the final art piece. Both parties are given the chance to ask questions and determine best alignment and artist selection for the project. After the interviews are completed, the selection panel will choose a final artist/artist team to award the public art opportunity to. The selected artist(s) will then be issued a Design Phase contract during which they create a community engagement plan, meet with the community and create a proposal that includes a design for the Exterior Site Enclosure, a budget and a timeline.

Criteria for selecting semifinalists for interviews are (1) quality of past work as demonstrated in submitted images; (2) ability and interest in creating site-specific artwork; (3) how past artwork has fit one or more of the general goals described above, specifically community engagement practices, through demonstrated processes and/or final design; (4) existing, interest in and/or ability to create connections to Holgate Library, Foster-Powell, Lents and other surrounding neighborhoods and communities served by the library.

Please note the selection panel reserves the right to select an artist who does not directly apply to this call, if appropriate. Likewise, the panel maintains the option to make no selection from submitted applications and to reopen the selection process or propose other methods of selection if no applicant is accepted.

How to Apply

All application materials must be submitted through the RACC Opportunity Portal, an online application system. Applicants will need to create an account, or log into their existing account at https://racc.org/apply. If you are applying as a team, please assign one person to apply and be the point of contact on behalf of the team.

Application Materials

  • Artist bio/resume. Upload a PDF, no more than two pages, that outlines your creative activities, artistic accomplishments and experience with community engagement. If applying as a team, submit one PDF that includes a bio/resume for all team members. 
  • Statement of interest. In 3000 characters or less, provide a statement that outlines the following:
    • Your interest in this project
      • Why this project, its focus and themes are of interest to you
      • Why you’d be a good match for the project
      • How do you foresee your work connecting to the mission and values of the project
    • Describe your capacity and/or experience to complete the scope of work
    • Explain why you value community engagement in your artistic process and share past examples of successfully incorporating community visions, values and voices into a project
      • What is your approach to community engagement
      • How has community engagement impacted your process
      • How has community engagement informed your art-making practice and the end results of your work
    • If you are applying as a team, describe your individual roles on the team and how you anticipate working together
  • Up to 8 past work samples. These work samples are the primary way the quality of your work will be judged. Provide up to two images, no larger than 5MB each, for each work sample. For each image, please provide title, artist name, media, dimensions, year completed, budget and location. Conceptual information is desirable but not required.

Once you have started your application, you can save after each step and sign out. Your application will be saved as a draft that you can continue to work on, as needed. Please note that after you click “Submit,” your application is final and no further edits can be made.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us throughout the process.

 Submissions due Thursday, November 3, 2022 at 5:00pm PDT

Questions

We are here to support and assist you! If you have questions about the overall opportunity or the RACC application portal,  would like to set up a time for a phone/video call or have any other needs for assistance please email project manager, Sophie, at shook@racc.org.

If you would like to be considered for this opportunity and don’t have a computer or online access, please feel free to contact RACC for support. Also, if you prefer these materials in another language you can contact the RACC project team  for translation services.

We strongly encourage you to submit your application with enough time for any questions to be answered prior to when submissions are due as enquiries received towards the end of that period may not be responded to. We appreciate your understanding and consideration of our capacity.

Interpretation services are available, please email info@racc.org.
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Important Dates

October 6, 2022 – RFQ launch
November 3, 2022 – Applications due
November-December 2022 – Panel review and artist selection including interviews
January-May/June 2023 – Community Engagement and Participatory Design
June 2023-February 2024 – Fabrication
March 2024 – Artwork complete and installation