Call Detail
Iowa Avenue Underpass Public Art Project
Entry Deadline: 4/13/20
Application Closed
Work Sample Requirements
Images | Minimum:Min. 1, Maximum:Max. 6
Video | Minimum:Min. 0, Maximum:Max. 1
Total Samples | Minimum:Min. 1, Maximum:Max. 7
Call Type: Public Art
Eligibility: Local
State: Colorado


 Iowa Avenue Underpass Public Art Project

Budget: $35,000 USD

Eligibility: Artist/writer/poet teams residing in the State of Colorado

DEADLINE: Monday, April 13, 2020; 11:59 P.M.MST


The City of Denver’s Public Art Program seeks to commission an artist or artist team for a site-specific artwork at the soon-to-be renovated Iowa Avenue underpass between S. Acoma Street and S. Santa Fe Drive in the Overland Neighborhood. The recommended location for the artwork is along the retaining wall for a new Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant, multi-use path connecting Broadway Boulevard and the adjacent communities to the Overland Park Golf Course and the South Platte River trail system. The goal of the public art commission is to create a warm, safe and welcoming experience for the users of the pedestrian/bicycle path through imagery and prose. The selection committee highly recommends for the artist or artist team to collaborate with a writer for original content which may also include poetry. The commission amount is $35,000 USD.

 Iowa Avenue Underpass Improvements

The City and County of Denver will provide pedestrians and bicyclists with a safe, comfortable and intuitive connection beneath the railroad tracks at Iowa Avenue. The project will remove stairs to create an ADA accessible path. The multi-use path will eliminate the gap along the bike route, providing increased safety, clearer wayfinding and improved user experience. The project will also include improved crossings at S. Santa Fe Drive and a new sidewalk along S. Santa Fe Drive from Jewell Avenue to Florida Avenue.


The Iowa Avenue Subway (now known as the Iowa Avenue Underpass) was completed in February 1927, when Iowa Avenue was an unpaved dirt road. The underpass was a significant undertaking and presented engineering challenges. It utilized concrete for the walls, a material that was becoming widely used for transportation-related projects in the 1920s. The construction of the underpass was a response to Denver’s population growth and traffic congestion. The issue was most acute at railway crossings where trains were unable to move freight due to automobiles blocking tracks, causing an economic impact on the City of Denver and safety concerns for pedestrians and drivers. 

 Overland Neighborhood

The Overland Neighborhood is located on the southern boundary of Denver and is bordered on the north by Mississippi Avenue, on the south by Yale Avenue, on the west by the South Platte River, and on the east by S. Broadway Boulevard. Residential areas are located in three small enclaves separated by W. Evans Avenue and S. Santa Fe Drive, and surrounded by industrial, business or park use. Each enclave has its own identity within the Overland Neighborhood.

 Until the 1850s, nomadic Arapaho and Cheyenne tribes roamed and camped along the South Platte River. In 1857, a group led by John Easter from Lawrence, Kansas, attempted to settle along the east bank of the South Platte River at a place they called Montana City. The location was bounded by what are now Evans Avenue, Iliff Avenue, Delaware Street and the South Platte River. The site was abandoned when no gold was found, and in 1859, the residents moved to the town of Auraria at the confluence of the Cherry Creek and the South Platte River. In the 1890s, the Army Corps of Engineers changed the course of the South Platte, and most of what was Montana City was lost to the river. In 1886, areas north of Jewell Avenue in the Overland Neighborhood became part of the town of South Denver. In 1894, South Denver was incorporated into the City and County of Denver.

 Materials & Media

The selection panel is open to two-dimensional artwork in all media, materials that may be applied to the wall in shallow relief and formats suitable for an outdoor environment. Artwork must be durable and able to withstand human touch and meet all ADA regulations. Artists are asked to be mindful and respectful of the underpass’s functionality and accessibility for pedestrians and cyclists.

 Maintenance & Durability

All applicants are expected to consider the issues of long-term conservation and maintenance of public art, along with time and budget. These projects are located in the public realm and will be exposed to weather and 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 before the submission of a final proposal. The chosen proposal 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. The selected artist/team is expected to stay on budget and to complete work in an approved time frame.


This project is open to artists who currently live and work in the State of Colorado regardless of race, color, creed, gender, gender variance, sexual orientation, national origin, age, religion, marital status, political opinion or affiliation, or mental or physical disability. The selection panel is interested in artists who can demonstrate an understanding of the area’s residents, history and surrounding neighborhoods. The selection panel highly recommends that the artist or artist team collaborate with a writer or poet. Emerging artists and artists working in media that is pedestrian-scaled and suitable for outdoor display are especially encouraged to apply.

 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 one page per team member.

 Applying for these opportunities

In response to this RFQ, applicants will be asked to submit six digital images, a résumé and a statement in the artist’s interest in the project in collaboration with a writer no longer than 2,000 characters via (CaFÉ™). From these applications, the selection panel will select up to five finalists who will create site-specific proposals and be brought in for an interview with the panel. Artists will be paid an honorarium for this work. Finalists will be expected to pay for travel expenses from the honorarium. From the interview and proposal, an artist or artist team will be selected for this commission. The selected artist or artist team will collaborate with the Public Art Program staff and the Iowa Underpass design and construction team when finalizing their designs for installation. 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 guide on filling out this form.

 Diversity and Inclusiveness

Denver Executive Order No. 101 establishes strategies between the City and private industry to use diversity and inclusiveness to promote economic development in the City and County of Denver and to encourage more businesses to compete for City contracts and procurements. The Executive Order requires, among other things, the collection of certain information regarding the practices of the City’s contractors and consultants toward diversity and inclusiveness and encourages/requires City agencies to include diversity and inclusiveness policies in selection criteria where legally permitted in solicitations for City services or goods. Diversity and Inclusiveness mean inviting values, perspectives, and contributions of people from diverse backgrounds and integrates diversity into its hiring and retention policies, training opportunities, and business development methods to provide an equal opportunity for each person to participate, contribute, and succeed within the organization’s workplace. “Diversity” encompasses a wide variety of human differences, including differences such as race, age, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity, physical disabilities, appearance, historically underutilized and disadvantaged persons, as well as social identities such as religion, marital status, socio-economic status, lifestyle, education, parental status, geographic background, language ability, and veteran status.


The budget for this commission is $35,000.00 USD, which will be allocated to the artist/team selected. 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, the timeline is subject to adjustments)

Monday, April 13, 2020; 11:59 P.M. MST                               Deadline for entry (via CaFÉ™ system)

May 2020                                                                                             Finalist Selection

June 2020                                                                                            Artist Selection and Notification

 Project Selection Panel

According to Denver’s Public Art Policy, the art selection panel plays an active role in the acquisition of public art for Denver. The Iowa Underpass art selection panel is comprised of 11 voting members and additional non-voting advisors. The selection panel is responsible for reviewing the site, establishing criteria, writing a request for qualifications, reviewing applications, selecting and interviewing finalists, and identifying an artist or artist team for the commission. 

 Selection Process

Up to five artists, writers, poets and/or teams will be selected as finalists. Those selected will receive more specific information regarding the site and have the opportunity to meet with site representatives, the design team and public art staff. The finalists will receive an honorarium to prepare and present the proposal in person. The selection panel will review the proposals, interview the finalists, and recommend an artist 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 ( There is no application fee to apply or to use the CaFÉ™ online application system.

Digital ImagesTo be considered for this project, the applicant must electronically submit six digital images of previously completed artworks through the 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 up to two video files.

 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, he/she may call 720-865-5575 to use a computer at the Denver Arts & Venues offices.

Statement of InterestPlease submit a statement outlining your interest in the Iowa Underpass public art project and why it is of special interest to you (2,000 character maximum) via CaFÉ™. 

 RésuméSubmit 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 one page per team member.

 Survey Applicants will also be required to fill out a short demographic survey that will be sent via the Survey Monkey website to the email on file from the CaFÉ™ application.

 References – Applicants who are selected to be finalists will be required to provide three professional references.

 Please direct all questions about the project to:

Rudi Cerri, Public Art Program Administrator,, 720-865-5562

 Iowa Underpass Bicycle/Pedestrian Improvements. For more information about this important mobility project, visit this website: