Call Detail
Denver County Jail - Vistors' Room

Entry Deadline: 4/10/23
Application Closed
Work Sample Requirements
Images | Minimum:Min. 6, Maximum:Max. 6
Video | Minimum:Min. 0, Maximum:Max. 1
Total Samples | Minimum:Min. 6, Maximum:Max. 7
Call Type: Public Art
Eligibility: Local
State: Colorado
Budget: $14,000


Public Art Project

Denver County Jail – Visitors’ Room

Budget: Approximately $14,000.00 USD

Eligibility: Open to artists or artist teams residing in the state of Colorado

DEADLINE: Monday, April 10, 2023, 11:59 pm MST



The City of Denver’s Public Art Program seeks to commission an artist or artist team to create original public artwork(s), for the Denver County Jail in Denver, CO. An eight-member selection panel of community representatives, arts and design 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 the Contact Visitation room for a potential artwork(s) for the allocated total budget of approximately $14,000.00 USD.

Land Acknowledgment

We acknowledge that the land Denver’s Public Art Collection occupies - - land where we stand, live, work and learn - - is the traditional territory of the Ute, Cheyenne and Arapaho Peoples. We also recognize the 48 contemporary tribal nations that are historically tied to the lands that make up the state of Colorado. Our nation was founded upon and continues to enact exclusions and erasures of Indigenous Peoples. May this acknowledgement demonstrate a commitment to dismantling ongoing legacies of oppression and inequities, as we intentionally honor and celebrate the Indigenous communities in our city and express our gratitude for their ongoing and significant contributions. Let’s not forget that this land was theirs long before we made it ours.

Denver County Jail and Contact Visitation Room Improvements

The Denver County Jail, located in northeast Denver, is one of two facilities that are part of the Denver County Jail System. The Smith Road facility currently houses incarcerated people serving short sentences in Denver County. Renovations to the facility have occurred over several decades. More recently, the Denver County Jail capital improvements have focused on visitation spaces where family, friends and other loved ones of incarcerated people meet to connect with one another.

Since 2005, visitations at Denver County Jail between incarcerated residents and their families have taken place through in-facility video conferencing rather than face-to-face. This method has been standard in nearly all U.S. jails since the early 2000s. However, studies of such practices have shown negative impacts on residents' mental health, behavior, family relationships and community connections, and an increase in the likelihood of recidivism*. To reduce the risk of reincarceration and encourage well-being, Denver County Jail is one of two facilities in the U.S. making the transition back to in-person visitations. Renovations to the contact visitation room will support those visits, allowing for much-needed connection to occur between the people serving their short sentences and their loved ones.

*Recidivism, according to the National Institute of Justice, refers to a person’s relapse into criminal behavior, often after the person receives sanctions or undergoes intervention for a previous crime. You can read more here. This narrow definition may not encompass all dimensions of this issue. The societal mechanisms contributing to criminal behavior and recidivism are areas that this project only begins to address.

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 Denver County Jail communities.


The panel is invested in the creation of a mural for the Contact Visitation space.

  • Artists should be skilled in group facilitation and comfortable working with Denver County Jail staff and incarcerated residents.
  • Artwork should be created in response to feedback given by the Denver County Jail communities and support the overall goals of the visitation room.
  • Artwork should transform the contact visitation space from a ‘surveillance zone’ to a ‘healing zone.’ Artists are encouraged to consider biophilic design strategies that support mental health through color, pattern and subject matter. Biophilic design is the practice of connecting people and nature within our built environments and communities.
  • The panel is especially interested in inviting artists to apply who have relationships with incarcerated individuals by having taught inside jails or prisons in the past or were formerly incarcerated themselves. 


The panel has identified several walls within the Contact Visitation room for mural works. Selected finalists may have the opportunity for a site visit and potentially meet with the art selection panel, as well as Denver Public Art program staff, and ask specific questions about the potential site.

Media & Materials:

The selection panel is open to media and materials that are suitable for indoor paint application and display. Media may be limited by policies of the Sheriff’s Department, including considerations for graffiti resistance, health and safety.

Resiliency Training

As the contact visitation room is intended to support the mental health of the communities using the space, Denver’s Public Art Program team also wants to ensure the wellness of selected artists or artists teams. Selected artists or artist teams for this project will have the opportunity to receive resiliency training before on-site work and after their Denver County Jail project is complete. Resiliency training encourages and builds a positive mindset and experience in what could be perceived as a stressful situation or environment.

Denver Sheriff Department Guidelines

To ensure this project is a safe and healthy experience for all, selected finalists will be expected to comply with all jail policies and procedures, including compliance with regulations listed below as well as other considerations:

  1. Any contractor/contract service provider requiring access to the jail for the purpose of supplying a service must comply with all jail policies and procedures.
  2. Any contractor/contract service provider requiring access to the jail will receive an orientation to the jail facility, facility security and operation, jail policy and procedure, and inmate rules and regulations.
  3. Before obtaining access to the jail, all contractors who will be supplying a service shall acknowledge, in writing, that they will comply with all jail policies, procedures and rules.
  4. Each contracted service provider will be under the supervision of appropriate staff who will provide information to the contractor about the jail philosophy, policy and procedure.
    1. A specific contract monitor will be assigned for every contract under the supervision of an administrator.
  5. All employees of the contracted service provider who will have access to the jail must be familiar with and follow the rules set forth by the Department for working in a secured area.
  6. Before obtaining jail access, all employees of contract service providers who will perform work in the jail must have a criminal record check performed to identify any criminal convictions which would present a security risk or affect their job performance.
  7. Contract service provider employees who do not have any criminal convictions which would present a security risk or affect their job performance will be given a Denver Sheriff Department (DSD) photo identification card appropriate to their status. In addition, they will be required to display the identification card above the waist so that it is visible while working within the jail facility.
  8. A staff member must accompany short-term contractors/contracted service providers requiring access to the jails. The staff member shall ensure security rules are upheld while the contractors performs their jobs.
  9. Compliance Questions:
    1. In an emergency involving contract provisions that are not consistent with the City and County of Denver (CCD), the Denver Department of Safety, and/or Denver Sheriff Department (DSD) policies and standards, the situation will be resolved following the CCD and the DSD protocols.
    2. All such cases will be reported immediately to the Sheriff, the division chief, the appropriate staff and the contracting organization representative.
  10. Contract Violations: Possible or apparent contract violations will immediately be referred to the appropriate DSD staff upon discovering the violation.

The full list of Sheriff Department policies and procedures for Contractor Access to Facilities can be viewed here.

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 being subject to potential 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 and County 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 (CaFÉ™).

  1. Six digital images of past work
  2. Résumé
  3. 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 Denver Public Art program staff, the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI), and the Denver Sheriff Department when finalizing their designs for installation.


The budget for this commission is approximately $14,000.00 USD 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 through the Denver County Jail 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, contingency to cover unexpected expenses, and any other costs. For all work done on city property, prevailing wage requirements will be applied.


(Except for online application deadline, timeline is subject to adjustments)

Monday, April 10, 11:59 p.m. MST                                          Deadline for entry (via CaFÉ™ system)

April 2023                                                                                      Finalist Selection

April 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 commission and acquisition of public art for Denver. The Denver County Jail art selection panel is comprised of eight 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. 

Selection Process

  1. 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, the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI), and the Denver Sheriff Department. The finalists will receive an honorarium to prepare a proposal and present it in person or virtually.
  2. The selection panel will review the proposals, interview the finalists and recommend an artist/artist team for the commission.
  3. 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.

Meeting Format

All meetings are held virtually via the Microsoft Teams platform. Selected artists and artist teams will be expected to download the free Microsoft Teams app and schedule platform testing prior to any presentations and interviews.  

Application Requirements

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 ( There is no application fee to apply or to use the CaFÉ™ online application system.

Digital Images

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

Assistance in using the CaFÉ™ system is available here:

If an artist does not have access to a computer, s/he/they may call 720-865-5576 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 To request this RFQ in a different language, please contact

Statement of Interest

Please submit a brief statement (2,000-character maximum) outlining the following:

  • Your interest in the Denver County Jail project
  • Your relationship to or experience with incarceration
  • 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.

Meg Pursell, Public Art Program Administrator,, 720-865-5576

Denver Public Art is also hosting a virtual pre-application meeting on Wednesday, March 29th, 5:30-6:30 p.m. for interested applicants. The meeting will cover project backgrounds and goals, and the application process for this Requests for Qualification. Attendees will also get information on 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.

Eligibility Criteria

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, Two-Spirit+ (LGBTQIA2S+) communities. Denver Arts & Venues also encourages applicants at various stages in their career and applicants practicing a variety of artistic disciplines.