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REQUEST FOR QUALIFICATIONS
Public Art Project
City Park - Nature Play
Budget: Approximately $70,000.00 USD
Eligibility: Open to artists or artist teams residing in the state of Colorado
DEADLINE: Monday, November 21, 2022, 11:59 pm MDT
The City of Denver's Public Art Program seeks to commission an artist or artist team to create a one-of-a-kind public artwork, or series of artworks, for a new play and educational experience called Nature Play. Nature Play is a unique partnership between the Denver Museum of Nature & Science and Denver Parks & Recreation within City Park. A 12-member selection panel of community representatives, arts and culture professionals, and civic leaders has been assembled to identify art opportunities and to select and recommend an artist or artist team for this project. The selection panel has identified multiple outdoor locations in the new improvement area for potential artworks and will select one artist or artist team for the allocated total budget of approximately USD $70,000.00.
City Park is the largest park in the city of Denver. Spanning 330 acres, the park drew its initial inspiration from landscape design used in Victorian promenades and ideas presented at the Chicago World Fair in 1893. Cultural centers within City Park including the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Denver Zoo, the Ferril and Duck Lakes and City Park Pavilion continue to progress in their missions and offerings. The park itself is bounded by 23rd Avenue to the north, 17th Avenue to the south, York Street to the west, and Colorado Boulevard to the east.
Prior to its development and Denver’s settlement in general, semi-nomadic communities including the Arapaho, Cheyenne and Ute had long lived and hunted in relation to the land. City Park was the site of events like the Mountain and Plain festival in the late 1890s hosting many Ute and Santa Clara Pueblo families to briefly meet for dancing, sport and ceremony. These lifeways were disrupted when communities were forcibly removed from the region. However, it is the ongoing generational effort of the American Indian communities of the Arapaho, Cheyenne and Ute nations, as well as 48 additional contemporary tribal nations, to continue to renew deep-rooted ties and uphold their relationships to the land.
Denver Museum of Nature & Science
The story of the Denver Museum of Nature & Science begins in 1868, when Edwin Carter moved into a tiny cabin in Breckenridge, Colorado to pursue his passion: the scientific study of the birds and mammals of the Rocky Mountains. Almost single handedly, Carter assembled one of the most complete collections then in existence of Colorado fauna. The Museum is noted for its world-famous wildlife dioramas. In the mid-20th century, under the leadership of director Alfred Bailey, staff traveled to six continents collecting specimens. Back home, workers painstakingly re-created the habitats using painted backgrounds, special lighting and carefully crafted reproductions of plants and flowers. Today the Museum has 89 wildlife dioramas throughout its halls.
Active science takes place at the Museum every day. Curators, collections managers, archivists, conservators, researchers and lab assistants—along with 1,000 volunteers—are not only responsible for conducting research but also creating opportunities for citizens to become actively involved in science. The education staff creates compelling programs and experiences for millions of guests and schoolchildren that inspire a passion for exploring and understanding our natural and cultural world.
Denver Parks & Recreation (DPR) is collaborating with the Denver Museum of Nature & Science (DMNS) to create a Natural Play experience in the southeast corner of City Park. The project will restore water to portions of the historic Box Canyon Waterway and integrate opportunities for respite and play. The landscape will be re-established with Colorado native plant species, immersing people in environments evocative of Colorado’s diverse ecosystems on display in the Museum’s Explore Colorado Diorama Hall.
The Nature Play project will build upon inspiration from the community provided throughout the 2018 City Park Master Plan Update, and community input throughout the span of the concept and design phases in 2019, 2020 and 2021. The project will tap into the notion that our natural world is a bridge to science by creating multisensory, self-directed and highly physical learning experiences designed for intergenerational exploration and play.
Goals, Site, Media & Materials
The selection panel members have set forth specific goals and parameters for this public art project with the hope of creating unique and inspiring works of art for the diverse visitors of Denver's City Park and the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.
- Artwork should complement and work within the landscape design of the Nature Play project by celebrating and embracing the powerful connections between wildlife, plant life and humans.
- Artwork should encourage discovery and wonder, offering brief and delightful moments so that visitors may understand the earth as a gift, and treat it with respect and reciprocity, inspiring amazement at the richness of the natural world.
- Artwork should also invite visitors to move through and partake in a self-directed journey, and could tell stories of passages between space and time, or speak to a more celestial and spiritual quality.
- Artwork should be inclusive and accessible, and enjoyed in multiple ways by engaging senses like touch, sound, smell and sight to captivate people of all ages and abilities.
The selected artist or artist team will work closely with the Nature Play design team to integrate an artwork(s) into the Nature Play site.
Media & Materials:
The selection panel is open to artwork in all environmentally-conscious media for outdoor display including, but not limited to, sculpture, reliefs and infrastructure interventions. Environmentally-conscious materials should be sourced and the artwork built responsibly. Durability and ease of maintenance are important at these locations.
Maintenance & Durability
This artwork will become a permanent addition to the Denver Public Art collection. All applicants must consider the issues of long-term conservation and maintenance of public art, along with time and budget. These projects are in the public realm and will be exposed to physical stresses, as well as be subject to vandalism. Public art projects should be fabricated of highly durable, low-maintenance materials. Finalists are encouraged to consult with a professional conservator prior to the submission of a final proposal. Artist proposals awarded contracts will be reviewed by the City of Denver’s Public Art Committee to ensure conformity with city standards of maintenance and durability, as well as ADA standards. All finalists are expected to stay on budget and to complete work in an approved time frame.
Applying for these opportunities
In response to this RFQ, applicants will be asked to submit the following items via www.callforentry.org (CaFÉ™).
- six digital images of past work
- Statement of interest no longer than 2,000 characters
From these applications, the selection panel will choose three to five finalists who will create site-specific proposals and be interviewed in person or virtually. Artists will be paid an honorarium for this work. Artists/teams selected as finalists will be required to submit a Diversity & Inclusiveness Form for their proposals to be considered, which will be provided upon notification. As directed by Executive Order 101, this form must be submitted for all city solicitations of proposals. Denver Arts & Venues Public Art Program staff can provide guidance on filling out this form.
Based on the interview and proposal, an artist or artist team will be selected for this commission. The selected artist or artist team will work with the Public Art Program staff, Denver Parks & Recreation (DPR) and City of Denver Department of Transportation & Infrastructure staff when finalizing their designs for installation.
The budget for this commission is approximately USD $70,000.00 which will be allocated to the artist/team selected. These funds come from the City of Denver’s 1% Percent for Public Art Ordinance resulting from improvements made to the Nature Play project. This contract amount is inclusive of all costs associated with the project including, but not limited to: the artist’s design fee, other consultation fees such as structural engineering consultation, insurance (including Colorado Workers Compensation), tools, materials, fabrication, transportation, installation, any building or site modification required, travel to and from the site, per diem expenses, project documentation, the contingency to cover unexpected expenses, and any other costs. For all work done on city property, prevailing wage requirements will be applied.
(Except for the online application deadline, the timeline is subject to adjustments)
- Monday, November 21, 2022, 11:59 P.M. MDT - Deadline for entry (via CaFÉ™ system)
- December 2022 - Finalist Selection
- January 2023 - Selected Artist or Artist Team Notification
Project Selection Panel
According to Denver’s Public Art policy, the project selection panel plays an active role in the acquisition of public art for the City and County of Denver. The Nature Play art selection panel is comprised of 12 voting members and additional non-voting advisors. The selection panel is responsible for reviewing the site, establishing criteria for a request for qualifications, reviewing applications, selecting and interviewing finalists, and finally for selecting an artist or artist team for the commission.
- Three to five artists/artist teams will be selected as finalists. Those selected will receive more specific information regarding the sites and have the opportunity to meet with community members from the art selection panel, Denver Public Art Program staff, Denver Parks & Recreation (DPR), and the Department of Transportation & Infrastructure (DOTI). The finalists will receive an honorarium to prepare a proposal and present it in person or virtually.
- The selection panel will review the proposals, interview the finalists and recommend an artist/artist team for the commission.
- The final recommendation of the selection panel will be presented to the Public Art Committee, the Denver Commission on Cultural Affairs, and the mayor of Denver for final approval.
All decisions of the City and County of Denver are final.
Materials to be Submitted
Please read this section carefully. Incomplete applications will NOT be considered. The applicant’s name must appear on all materials submitted.
All materials must be submitted online, via the CaFÉ™ website (www.callforentry.org). There is no application fee to apply or to use the CaFÉ™ online application system.
In order to be considered for this project, the applicant must electronically submit six digital images of previously completed artworks through the online CaFÉ™ system. Artists who wish to submit kinetic, sound or media works must submit a complete CaFÉ™ application and will have the opportunity to upload one video file.
IMPORTANT: if submitting audio or video files, do not use them as your very first image. They must be submitted last in your image sequence.
Instructions on how to format images to CaFÉ™ specifications can be found at https://www.callforentry.org/uploading-images-audio-and-video-files/.
Assistance in using the CaFÉ™ system is available here: https://www.callforentry.org/artist-help-cafe/.
If an artist does not have access to a computer, s/he/they may call 720-865-5575 to make arrangements to use a computer at Denver Arts & Venues. To request this RFQ in an alternate format (such as Braille, large print, or accessible electronic format) please contact DisabilityAccess@denvergov.org
Statement of Interest
Please submit a brief statement (2,000-character maximum) outlining the following:
- Your interest in the Nature Play public art project
- Your design approach and experience working on projects of this kind
- Please also include information on your experience working with diverse communities and stakeholders
Submit a one to two-page current résumé via CaFÉ™ that highlights your professional accomplishments as an artist. Please name your résumé file accordingly: Last name.First initial (i.e. Smith.J.pdf). Résumés that are more than two pages will not be downloaded. If applying as a team, please submit one résumé with no more than one page per team member.
Applicants will also be required to fill out a short demographic survey that will be sent to the email on file from the CaFÉ™ application.
Applicants who are selected to be finalists will be required to provide three professional references.
Please direct all questions about the project to:
Meg Pursell, Public Art Program Administrator, firstname.lastname@example.org, 720-865-5576
Denver Public Art is also hosting a virtual pre-application meeting on Thursday, October 27, 5:30-6:30 p.m. for interested applicants. The meeting will cover project backgrounds and goals, and the application process for these three Requests for Qualifications: Fairfax Park, Ruby Hill Park, Sloan's Lake South Playground, and City Park - Nature Play. Attendees will also get information on CallForEntry.org through which artists may apply. This event will be hosted on Zoom. Interested applicants are asked to register to get information on how to join prior to the event. If you cannot attend, a recording will be available on the Denver Arts & Venues Vimeo channel.
Who May Apply
This project is open to artists who reside in the state of Colorado. Denver Arts & Venues is committed to building a public art collection that represents a broad diversity of artists and encourages applicants from historically marginalized and underrepresented communities including artists who identify as Black, Indigenous, Latino/x, People of Color (BILPOC), people with disabilities, and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersexual, asexual, + (LGBTQIA+) communities. Denver Arts & Venues also strongly encourage applicants at various stages in their career and applicants practicing a variety of artistic disciplines.
Can a team apply?
Applicants may apply as a single artist or multi-person collaborative group. If applying as a team, please submit one résumé for the team, with no more than one page per team member.