Call Detail

Public Art for Black Wall Street Gardens

Contact Email:
Call Type: Public Art
Eligibility: Unspecified
State: North Carolina
Entry Deadline: 9/10/18
Application Closed
Media Images:10

The City of Durham is renovating a publicly-owned greenspace at 102 West Main Street in downtown Durham, locally referred to as Black Wall Street Gardens. Improvements to the greenspace will include pedestrian path lighting; the addition of 8 shade trees and other landscaping enhancements; and a reconfiguration of the existing brick paver walkway into a curvilinear design to further enhance the greenspace as a pedestrian-friendly social gathering space. The walkway between West Parrish Street and West Main Street will converge in the middle of the greenspace to form a larger, brick-paved central area with room for movable seating, tables, benches, and porch-style swings. This new center area is intended to be the site for the permanent art installation requested by this RFQ.

Like several public open spaces in downtown Durham, Black Wall Street Gardens was formed when a building previously located on the site was demolished. The space was identified in the City’s 2014 Downtown Open Space Plan, with the goal to develop this site as the southern node of an enhanced linear park connecting City Hall to Main Street. The green space along Mangum Street, framed by Main and Parrish Streets, connects City Hall, the Kress Building, and other redevelopment sites along Main Street. It also serves as an extension of recent improvements along Parrish Street, most notably the pergolas installed on both sides of Parrish Street and the intersection of Mangum Street. The park has served as a public open space for well over two decades, and many users now consider it a public open space for small performances and gatherings. A portion of the site is currently used for housing Duke Energy’s utility equipment.

About Durham, NC

Durham began in 1864 as a small rail depot village, with tobacco driving the city’s early economic development. Drawing on this rich and diverse history, Durham has reimagined and repurposed its earlier tobacco and textile warehouses and prominent landmarks to create a compact, walkable and vibrant downtown filled with exciting dining, activities, and more. The district was the first commercial district in North Carolina to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Since 2000, the city has experienced exponential growth with more than $1.3 billion in investments. For more information about Durham, visit

About Historic Parrish Street "Black Wall Street" 
At the beginning of the 20th century, in the midst of a largely white-owned business district in Durham, NC, black-owned businesses and financial enterprises flourished along Parrish Street, earning the moniker “Black Wall Street”. The most vital of these institutions were the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company and Mechanics and Farmers Bank. The success of these businesses gave Durham a national reputation as the “Capital of the Black Middle Class”, a legacy that continues inspiring a new generation of businesses across many important Durham institutions today. Historic Parrish Street sat adjacent to the Hayti community, which at the time was Durham’s main African American residential neighborhood. The two areas together served as the center of black life in Durham throughout the late 1800s and 1900s.

The building of Highway 147 through the Hayti community had a devastating effect on the vibrancy of Black Wall Street and the entire community. Like the rest of downtown Durham, the area was economically distressed for many decades after the construction of the freeway, with many dormant buildings, and little business activity on the street. The recent resurgence of downtown Durham and renewed public and private investment on the street have given the area a new life and has increased interest in commemorating the importance and lasting impact of Black Wall Street on Durham, and its overall place in North Carolina and African American history.

This request for qualifications is open to all professional artists and designers age 18 or older who are eligible to work in the United States. If selected, non-North Carolina-based artists will be required to engage in at least one capacity-building partnership with a local or regional artist or artist team. Candidates are eligible regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender identification, military status, sexual orientation, marital status, or physical ability.

Artist(s) are expected to create a work of permanent art inspired by one or all of the following themes: Inclusivity, Diversity, Community, Activism, Creativity, Entrepreneurial Spirit, and Progress. The City of Durham defines permanent art as visual art including, but not limited to, sculptures, murals, photographic renderings, mosaics, lighting and electronic art installations installed on a permanent basis in spaces which are visible from public streets and pedestrian walkways, free of any admission fee, through a public process providing opportunity for community input.

The selected artist or artist team will be required to perform the following services:n
  • Leading an engagement process to solicit community input in one or more sessions, prior to submission of design concept(s).
  • Collaborating with the City and project stakeholders on the final design
  • Overseeing the fabrication and installation of the public art piece
  • Submission of a reasonable maintenance plan to ensure proper conservation of the piece
Application materials must be received by September 10, 2018 at 11:59 PM MST via the submission portal on Items required shall include the following:n
  • Statement of interest: Briefly describe your interest in this project, and your qualifications for completing the work. Artist teams should explain their interest and qualifications collectively.  
  • Work samples: Submission should include visual representations of past artwork that demonstrate your qualifications for this project. Applicants must upload a total of 10 images that represent up to 5 previously completed projects. Each sample should have an accompanying summary of the title, location, cost, materials/media, and timeline associated with that piece. Videos will count as one of the 10 images, and should be submitted as a PDF link. Artist teams’ work sample submissions should include examples from each team member.
  •  Résumés: Résumés for each artist/ artist team member should include any public or private commissioning experience, and community engagement experience, if applicable. 
  • References: Each artist should provide three (3) professional references or recommendation letters with contact information for each reference. Artist teams may submit a total of 3 references collectively.
City staff will preview application for completeness and may reject incomplete applications or non-responsive submissions. An Artist Selection Committee (which may include city staff members of the Durham Public Art Committee, visual art/design professionals, and other community members) will review and evaluate applications based on criteria that will include the following:
  • Aesthetic Excellence: Aesthetic excellence of past projects
  • Community Engagement: Experience, success, and/or interest in community engagement in the process of creating public artwork
  • Materiality: Proven track record of using the materials and methods appropriate for this project
  • Project Management: Demonstrated ability to manage projects with similar budgets on time and on budget.
The Artist Selection Committee will invite chosen finalists to interview with Artist Selection Committee members. After the interviews, the Artist Selection Committee will recommend an artist or artist team to the City for approval. This selected artist or artist team will be invited to contract with the City for the commission of this work.

The total budget for this project is $50,000
. This amount includes all fees and expenses associated with this project, including materials, equipment, labor, permits, engineering documents, insurance, taxes, travel, installation, shipping, identification plaque, maintenance instructions’ document, and written and professional photographic documentation of the completed project. The public art will coincide with site and lighting improvements being made to the green space.

Artist Call Released: July 19, 2018
Submittal deadline: September 10, 2018 by 11:59 PM MST
Finalist selection: September 2018
Finalist interviews: September 2018
Selected artist notification: October 2018
Anticipated contract execution October 2018
Community engagement + concept development:  October – November 2018
Concept and design development approval: November – December 2018
Fabrication and installation: December 2018 – January 2019
Project Completion: February – March 2019

The City reserves the right to reject any and all proposals. The City may negotiate changes of any nature with any Finalist or Awardee with respect to discrepancies between the designs selected for the contract and the art that will be commissioned by the City, and (ii) to enter into an agreement for some or all of the work with one or more artists that do not submit proposals. Although artist applicants should make their best faith effort to comply with the requirements outlined in this call for artists, the City may, in its discretion, waive non-compliance.

The evaluation criteria included in this RFQ are intended to be used to make a recommendation to the entity or person within the City authorized to award the contract. That entity or person is not bound to use these criteria or to award on the basis of the recommendation. The City reserves the right to change the criteria and to otherwise vary from this procedure as it determines to be in the City’s interest. Unless the artist indicates otherwise, all of the materials submitted to qualify for this opportunity will be discarded after the conclusion of this solicitation. Under the terms of the contract, the Awardee will agree to allow the City to incorporate the design and installation it has commissioned into the City’s permanent art collection.

Applicants with additional inquiries about this project should email Brian Smith, Senior Economic Development Coordinator at 


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