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public art guide for

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artists’ guide

Edmonton’s Public Art Program Cities aren’t just about buildings; they are living spaces, meant for our use. Cities exist for us - human beings - who work every day to drive the city economically and to provide the necessities of life for its citizens. A great city to live in not only gives us places to work and survive, but nurtures the human beings who sustain those infrastructures. Art is a vital part of our existence, and many cities around the world are known for their public art. It can express cultural identity, beautify neighborhoods, and tell stories. Imagine Paris without the Eiffel Tower, or Mexico City without its Diego Rivera murals. Or, for that matter, imagine Edmonton without the Great Divide waterfall. Art in public spaces contributes to a city’s character, and provides an opportunity for artists to have their work seen by many different eyes, not just those who attend galleries. Art beautifies a city and creates a strong identity, which in turn attracts business and tourism, and strengthens the local economy through an investment in the arts. Art in public spaces increases the quality of life in a city, and contributes to its liveability. The City of Edmonton and the Edmonton Arts Council share a vision, and a goal, to establish and maintain a public art collection - an urban gallery - that engages and excites Edmontonians.

For artists new to public art commissions, the opportunity can be both exciting and overwhelming. The case studies in this document contain artists’ reflections on working on a commission for Edmonton’s public art collection.

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Immense Mode (2009) Dawn Detarando + Brian McArthur Southgate Transit Centre The artists spent countless hours in their Red Deer studio carving, firing and glazing the thousands of clay bricks that constitute Immense Mode. An internal armature was designed by a team of engineers to support the 42,000-pound legs that stand on the transit island at the Southgate Transit Centre.

You collaborated with engineers to design an internal support for the artwork. Has this changed your perception of the scale of pieces that you can create? We already knew we were capable of making large works given our experiences but the engineers worked creatively with us to achieve the goals for a failsafe outcome. The collaboration was necessary for the scale of our piece.

The production of this piece was very labour intensive. Describe some of the production experiences you had working on-site in a very public location. It was quite challenging and rewarding at times. The biggest challenge was dealing with the exhaust and constant noise from the buses. We were happy to stop and answer questions about the piece but it sometimes took an hour or so out of our day during production to explain. In hindsight, we should have had a colourful didactic panel to describe the piece and it’s timeline so pedestrians could be informed. We got the occasional heckler but for every one of them there were 99 more positive people to back it up! On a more positive note it was great to meet the people who actually spend a great deal of their time at that bus platform. We had regulars that would stop by either as they headed to work or on their way home. It reinforced the value of public art and how important it is to have an artwork like ours as an integral part of the peoples’ lives.

What advice would you pass on to other artists based on your public art experience? • Tune out the negativity. • In regards to criticism. your art work can’t be everything to everybody • Don’t underestimate any costs. • Don’t underestimate the time required to complete a task. • Anything is possible. • Working with a team is great; always try to have the best team possible, communication is key with all the players. • The use of an onsite trailer was indispensable for a secure storage and shelter during breaks for lunches and dinners as well inclement weather. 2


Public art can take many forms. It can include a painting hanging in a public building, or a sculpture in a park. But it can also be an event, an installation of film, video, or sound or even a temporary installation in a public space. If an artwork exists in the public realm and is free and accessible to all, then it is public art. It can be indoors or outdoors, integrated into the site, discrete (i.e. free-standing or self-contained), or functional (for example, a bench or a lamp post).

artists’ guide

What is Public Art?

Works can be permanent, transitory or short term, municipal, private or community public art. The City of Edmonton has policies that require municipal projects and certain private developments to feature public artworks. Community Arts grants are available to community groups or organizations which, through the creation of public art, may want to address social issues, celebrate community or cultural identity and heritage, beautify public spaces and neighborhoods, commemorate an event or increase the appreciation of the arts in general. Edmonton’s public art collection features examples of permanent and temporary art; integrated, discrete, and functional art; as well as event-based or performance art. Sculptures and paintings, placed indoors or outdoors, with content independent of the site’s location, are examples of discrete public artworks. Functional artwork can be utilized beyond its artistic form, for example, the art bench Lunchbreak by J.Seward Johnston in Churchill Square is a popular place to sit and take in the sights of the city’s public square. Free, public events are occasionally facilitated through public art programs. Sound art, video art exhibitions, dance and other performances or installations, as well as educational programs like the Dérive tours, which guide participants through an observation of composition and design during a city walk, are examples of transitory public art projects and public art educational programming. A successful public art program not only places art in public spaces, but works to assemble a collection from the perspective of some form of artistic direction. Expertise is required in building such an art collection, as well as in conserving the artworks that already exists.

The artists carved and assembled the bricks in their Red Deer studio before numbering, firing and glazing each brick. They carved the legs in three sections due to the height of the sculpture, and used hand-made tools to apply texture and leather-like folds in the clay. 3


Ecostation (2009) Brandon Blommaert EcoStation consists of five images of typical Alberta landscapes: the Rocky Mountains, Boreal Forest, Parkland, the Badlands and urban sprawl. The backgrounds are photographs, printed on large pieces of vinyl that cover significant sections of the exterior walls of the Ambleside Eco Station. In these landscapes, Blommaert has digitally inserted fantastic characters made from post-consumer waste.

How did your background in film and animation inform your project for the Eco Station? This is interesting because there is a real back and forth relationship between my film/animation work and my 2-d work. I came to be interested in sculpture because of animation. With this project I was able to focus solely on sculpture for the first time ever and I was able to think about sculpture in a whole new way. In other words, I had no barriers, or, different barriers. I didn’t have to simplify the shapes or make things functional, I was able to focus on making things as visually powerful as I could, where with animation I am more likely to make things a little simpler so that they will function as a moveable object. But, now that I have done this ecostation series I don’t want to make simple/ functional objects! With the small film project I am working on right now I am interested in making fuller, more detailed images. So basically making the ecostation images have sort of pushed my personal limits of what I think is possible. I will probably eventually go back to using incredibly simple imagery in my films though; these things always ebb and flow. 4

The content of the artwork is very site-specific. Can you discuss how the site informed/influenced your process from the proposal stage to the installation? As far as the form of the work goes it was part of the brief to create 2 dimensional works that would be adhered to the surface of the building, so that part was already figured out for me. If I had to go back in time and redo it though I might have just covered one huge chunk of the building rather then covering 5 sporadic chunks - but just for simplicity’s sake, and because I think the images have to really compete with the hyper green shade of the building’s surface.

How do you intend the public to interact with your artwork? I guess this isn’t the most interactive public artwork; people can’t walk through it, on it or around it. All they can really do is look at it. But I hope it makes the experience of going to the building a little more interesting than it would be otherwise.

What advice would you pass on to other artists based on your public art experience? Don’t sweat it, everything works out in the end.


There are five guiding principles that the Edmonton Arts Council has adopted as a vision for the future of public art in our city. They are:

Diversity in media and themes, as well as in the backgrounds of the artists; Challenge in bringing provocative work to the community and by challenging us to new ways of thinking and being;

artists’ guide

What is Edmonton Public Art’s Vision?

Engaging, as in inviting dialogue and engagement with the artwork; Taking Care of our investment in creative communities, conservation and maintenance, education and outreach, and Propelling, to encourage local artists’ work into a global context.

The EAC supports a decentralized program in many ways; by encouraging partnerships that serve as a platform for public artworks, supporting other public art organizations, artists and the public. There is great potential in Edmonton– in terms of talent, resources and space– to make a significant impact with public art programming. Our current programming will help us reach this potential and emerge along side the world’s finest public art collections.

Public Art Committee The Edmonton Arts Council inaugurated a Public Art Committee (PAC) in February 2008. The PAC leads the EAC’s public art programming, sets a vision and objectives for the Percent for Art program, periodically reviews the Civic Art collection, advises on the de-accession of public art, and makes recommendations regarding the City’s public art. The Public Art Committee is comprised of, but not limited to, individuals such as artists, curators, architects, civil engineers and community representatives.

The artist created patterns for cut and fold lines before assembling the paper sculptures. Once the figures were created, they were staged for photographs, and then digitally montaged into photographs of Alberta landscapes. 5


Overflow (2009) Brendan McGillicuddy Callingwood Arena Overflow was created by Brooklyn-based Edmonton artist Brendan McGillicuddy, and is made of laminated sheets of polished acrylic cut to look like melting icicles. The artwork is attached to the exterior of the arena, and LED lights illuminate it at night, cycling through changes in colour and intensity.

How does your fabrication experience relate to your own artistic practice? My fabrication experience has mostly developed from fabricating for various public artists in New York City, after I had finished my grad studies, and from creating my own artwork. Also, a good percentage of my experience has come from growing up in Edmonton, working in heavy industry or learning from the skilled tradesmen in my family. Fabrication is intrinsic to my artistic practice in that I embrace it as part of my artistic process.

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You worked with the conservation department to research materials. Has this affected how you perceive the longevity of the artwork? I did my preliminary research prior to consulting the EAC’s conservation department about the longevity of the materials that I had chosen. The conservation department then cross-referenced my research with a more intensive study, giving me the confidence that I needed to forge ahead.

What advice would you pass on to other artists based on your public art experience? The two most varying aspects of making public art, in my experience, are budgeting and time. Always budget your project using the highest quality materials available because you’ll likely end up using those materials in the end and always include a contingency for unforeseeable expenses. Allow as much time as possible when outsourcing aspects of the fabrication because your job may not be another fabricator’s highest priority.


There are several public art programs currently in place that are administered by the Edmonton Arts Council. These are: Percent for Art, Community Arts grants for public art and other project-based support.

Percent for Art All municipal capital construction projects (new projects or renovations) that are accessible or highly visible to the public (for example, recreation centers, transit stations, bridges, parks, etc.) are required to allocate 1% of their budget to the procurement of permanent public artwork on site. Examples of this include the framed artworks that hang in City Hall, the sculpture Immense Mode at the upgraded Southgate Transit Centre, and the granite sculpture, Muttart by Mia Weinberg, at the entrance of the newly renovated Muttart Conservatory.

artists’ guide

Public Art Programs in Edmonton

Private sector projects and developments are not required to participate in Percent for Art, but may voluntarily contribute a public artwork to their project. The Edmonton Arts Council is also available as a resource in this case. A well-known example of a private sector public art project are the sculptures located on the sidewalk in front of the shops and services on Jasper Avenue between 112 and 113 Street. Among the four sculptures on this city block one will find a horse and a buffalo, both skillfully crafted by Canadian sculptor Joe Fafard.

Community Public Art Through its Community Arts grant program, the Edmonton Arts Council (EAC) supports projects initiated by community groups that engage artists in the creation of public artworks. These projects may commemorate an event, celebrate cultural heritage, address social issues, or beautify a public space.

Transitory Public Art The EAC supports arts and festival organizations that create and produce both permanent and transitory public art in Edmonton. These are performances or exhibitions that take place over a set period of time, and can include concerts or events. Storefront Cinema (a project of the Stoney Plain Road and Area BRZ), is one example. They closed off a part of Stony Plain Road for one night to turn storefront windows into film screens. The artist worked with local fabricators and engineers, researching the effects of Edmonton’s winter temperatures to select the grade of polycarbonate.

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public art process 1. You receive the RFQ/RFP. Contact the EAC with any questions you have about the project (remember, we’re here to help you).

What is the purpose of the Percent for Art Programs? Edmonton, like many other cities, has a Percent for Art policy. This means that a percentage of the capital budget of a qualifying construction project must go towards the procurement of public art. The Edmonton Arts Council administers the program and public artworks acquired through this program by the City of Edmonton are part of the city’s Civic Art Collection.

2. Submit your proposal or qualifications. 3. A selection committee will meet to review the submitted proposals and you will receive notification as to the status of your project. 4. The successful artist will receive a contract outlining the process and expectations of the project. Once the contract is signed, the artist will receive the first installment of their payments from the EAC. Future payments will proceed according to the terms of the contract. 5. A design review will take place with the project team. 6. Creation of the artwork. This might take place in the artist’s studio, onsite, or at a fabricator’s shop, depending on the nature of the project. 7. Installation of the artwork. Artists working outside of Edmonton may need to transport the artwork from elsewhere prior to installation. Be sure to budget both money and time for this if it applies to you. 8. After the artwork is installed, you will submit a completion package to the EAC that contains information about the future of the artwork. You may also be asked to do interviews to help promote the piece. Remember, the EAC’s public art staff are here to help you through this process. If you have any questions, please contact us!

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Many cities across North America also have municipal Percent for Art policies; typically the amount is based on annual capital budget expenditures. In Edmonton the amount is 1% and is based on hard construction value over five million dollars. The City of Edmonton recognizes the role that creative life has in the vibrancy of a community. The City’s collection includes a number of works commissioned as a result of high-profile events (i.e. the Commonwealth Games in 1978), and the current public art programs will ensure the development of a diverse collection of works that is properly maintained and catalogued.

How do I find out about public art calls? The Edmonton Arts Council publishes its public art calls on its website, at http://publicart. edmontonarts.ca/calls/. There you can subscribe to the electronic newsletters EAC Weekly and Public Art Monthly. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter (@artsedmonton) to find out about calls as soon as they are posted.

Public Art Master Plan Edmonton Public Art MAP: Public Art Master Plan, was approved by Edmonton City Council in 2008 and provides a guide for the future, real, and imagined platforms of a diverse range of public art in the greater City of Edmonton while supporting excellence in urban design. Visit the Edmonton Arts Council online to download a copy of the Edmonton Public Art MAP: http://publicart.edmontonarts.ca


A strong proposal with high artistic merit is, of course, the most important ingredient for success, but there are other elements that you need to consider when creating your public art proposal. These elements demonstrate the feasibility of your proposal. 1. Administrative skills: You will be dealing with contracts and copyright, managing timelines and budgets 2. People skills: Many public art projects demand that artists work as part of a team – the team they assemble to create the artwork, and/or the project team involved with the site construction. If needed, indicate your team, and their expertise, in your proposal. 3. Production skills: Public art projects often require knowledge of building practices and materials. A good proposal demonstrates that all relevant factors (location, environment, etc.) have been considered and that the most suitable processes and materials will be used.

What is the procedure to acquire/accession public art? There is a procedure set in place by the Edmonton Arts Council to select artists to create works for the public art projects commissioned through the City of Edmonton’s Percent for Art program. Once it is determined that a construction project qualifies to participate in the municipal Percent for Art program, one percent of the hard construction value estimate is allocated for the procurement of public art.

artists’ guide

tips for a successful public art project

The Edmonton Arts Council administers a call for artists to submit proposals. Professional artists are eligible to respond with a description of their proposed project, an artist statement describing the artist’s vision, a budget and timeline, and curriculum vitae outlining his or her qualifications. Once all the proposals have been collected, selection of the artwork will occur during a Jury or Artwork Selection Committee process. This stage of the selection process is facilitated by the Edmonton Arts Council. A jury for public art is typically composed of artists/art professionals (e.g.. curators, critics, etc.) , the project manager, City of Edmonton or other site ownership or user groups, persons qualified to ensure an artwork’s technical feasibility, and persons recognized as able to ensure the artwork’s suitability in the general community. The selection committee will meet to review the project proposals and discuss the merits of each one. Evaluation of the projects will consider artistic merit, the artist’s portfolio of previously completed artworks and exhibitions, and the work in context of other public artwork in Edmonton. They will also consider the feasibility of the artwork in terms of technical, logistical and financial perspectives, and how well it fits with the surrounding environment or neighborhood. The budget submitted with the proposal typically includes administration, materials, fabrication, studio costs, insurance, artwork delivery, artwork installation fees, outreach, and a reserve for conservation or maintenance. Then, with the help of the EAC, the project team creates a critical path for the project to plan the steps toward installing the artwork.

Make sure that your proposal demonstrates that you’ve got your bases covered.

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Continuum (2009) Cezary Gajewski + Danielle Gajewski Century Park LRT Station Continuum is a set of three wire spheres, covered with hundreds of maple leaf forms of water-jet cut aluminum. Suspended throughout the Century Park LRT station, the artwork’s roundness and playful evocation of nature contrasts with the station’s modernist architectural lines of glass and aluminum. It is an airy bubble of near-nature, visible from most angles by the many commuters who move throughout the building.

Can you describe some of the challenges you faced with the installation process? What materials and methods did you use to secure the artwork in place? The installation of this piece was very complicated, as the work was being hung from a two and three story building height. The work was hung with airline cable from three cast steel eye bolts (attached to the artwork), the airline cable was attached on the other end to three ‘quick link hooks’. Three holes were drilled in the steel I-beam on the ceiling, and a cast steel eye bolt was secured into each hole. We needed to hire a rock climber to actually hook the ‘quick link hooks’ to the eye bolts in the ceiling, because there wasn’t enough space beside and above the artwork for someone to be lifted up there using a machine. The rock climber and the artwork were hoisted up to the ceiling using climbing ropes and manpower. 10

Comment on the process of working with outside fabricators and overseeing production quality and being able to ensure that it is up to your artistic standards. The struts of the sphere structure were manufactured in the USA, so we had no way to oversee production quality. However, the company that we used had quite an extensive website with lots of photos and testimonials on it, so after speaking to the owner a few times, we had to trust that he would deliver our order. Luckily, the crate arrived on time, and the product was fantastic. The powder-coaters were a local company that we chose to use because they could provide us with a large range of colours without making a special order. If I was to do it again, I would work more closely with the painters to ensure that they all knew what the pieces were going to be used for, and what type of finish we were expecting. The artwork was completely assembled by us.

What advice would you pass on to other artists based on your public art experience? Keep good records, and make sure to get everything in writing.


To ensure that the work is of high quality, Percent for Art programs are required to hire a professional artist to create the artwork. According to the definition provided in the City of Edmonton’s Percent for Art policy, such an individual is: “A practicing professional art-maker recognized by peers, and as such commissioned specifically to create artwork or collaborate with the project designers to integrate artwork into a project. Project designers do not qualify as artists for public art commissions.”

artists’ guide

Who is an Artist?

What is an RFQ or an RFP, and the difference between the two? For the Percent for Art projects, a call is normally issued to artists in the form of an RFQ (Request for Qualifications) or an RFP (Request for Proposals). RFQ (Request for Qualifications): this type of call to artists by the Edmonton Arts Council is typical for artworks with commissions over $100,000 CAD. The artwork competition for an RFQ process has a two-stage jury process. For the first stage, artists are invited to send their curriculum vitae and portfolio. A shortlist of artists is selected to proceed to the second stage of the jury and are provided a maquette fee in the range of $1200-$1500 CAD to produce a full artwork proposal with a budget and a scaled model of the artwork in the context of the site location.

The artists spot-welded each laser-cut aluminum leaf onto the support frame. One of the projects was assembled on site, and the other two were carefully delivered on a truck-bed to the installation site. Delivery of the artwork required detailed coordination with the LRT construction site team. Each wrapped sculpture was carefully hoisted to the ceiling by rock-climbers, and clipped to aircraft cables.

RFP (Request for Proposals): this type of call to artists by the Edmonton Arts Council is typical for artworks with commissions under $100,000 CAD. The artwork competition is a one stage jury process. For this jury artists are asked to send in a rendering of an artwork proposal, artwork description, budget, curriculum vitae, and portfolio. A fee is not provided to the artists for their proposal, as the fee and second jury costs detracts a large percentage from the artwork commission. The Edmonton Arts Council uses both call methods to encourage the development of emerging public artists and senior level public artists and allocates the type of call to be appropriate to the size of the artwork commission.

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Flux (2008) Robbin Deyo Peter Hemingway Fitness and Leisure Centre Flux, created for the interior pool area of the Peter Hemingway Fitness and Leisure Centre, mirrors the wave-like structural design of the Centre. Created by Montreal-based artist Robbin Deyo, the piece is almost seven metres in length and a metre and a half tall. To create the image, repetitive lines were first drawn with a modified version of a Super Spirograph in the shape of waves, then painted in enamel on metal in repeating colours of blues, cyan, red and leaving areas where the raw aluminum grey of the underlying metal shows through.

Project medium: enamel on aluminum

Project description: Following the suggested themes of flow, waves and vertex, I produced an image of repetitive undulating lines that are suggestive of water, movement and energy. The lines close to the bottom of the image are gentle curves that develop into a wave-like form with higher and higher peaks as the lines repeat one above the other. I have chosen the colours of a pale and deep 12

cyan or aqua blue and a vivid red on the pale grey colour of the brushed aluminum, as I am interested in the support material being part of the image while the blues reflect shallow and deep waters. The repetitive lines in red are intended to suggest a shifting beat of the pulse from calm to vigorous. ~

Method or technique description: The initial line drawing for this piece was created with a modified version of the toy, Super Spirograph. A portion of the drawing was then enlarged digitally and became a template for a full size drawing. The drawing was traced onto the prepared metal surface with carbon paper. Then the piece was hand painted with enamel.


Please read the public art call carefully and understand each project’s criteria. The first step to a successful application is to propose an artwork that meets all the needs of the space and is feasible as far as budget, materials, and timelines are concerned.

Consider the site Successful proposals take into account the physical site, as well as the overall concept that the City or private developer is looking for.

artists’ guide

What does a successful application look like?

The call will provide information on the proposed location of installation, as well as some background on the purpose of the development itself. A theme for the artwork is occasionally provided, as well as size and safety parameters, and a description of the design influences of the construction project and context of the neighbourhood. Sometimes, an architect’s drawings of the building will be provided; this design should also be taken into consideration. For example, for the Biotechnology Business Development Centre, the artist Ron Baird proposed a work that incorporated ancient and modern symbols that are pertinent to science, health and agriculture. His completed piece, Bio-Glyphs, also worked with the available light in its final installation site.

Use clear language Your proposal will be read by a jury that may consist of artists, curators, architects, developers, members of the community and other individuals pertinent to the project, such as City of Edmonton representatives or those who will be occupying a building. You should write for a general audience, explaining clearly what you will be doing as well as the artistic context of the work.

Robbyn Deyo researched the history of Peter Hemingway’s iconic architecture, which influenced the wave pattern of the artwork composition and aided in it’s integration to the building.

Be as specific as possible in your description, including technical information about how it will be built. As well, it’s a good idea to provide some context in terms of why you chose to propose this particular artwork in response to the call; that is, if there is a reason why the materials, the style, or content of the work is appropriate to the space.

Supporting documents Supporting documents, such as visual documentation of previous work, should be relevant to what you are proposing. For example, if you work in various media, present a previous work that most closely resembles what you are proposing. For example, if you are proposing a large sculpture installation, include images of sculptures created with similar scale, material, etc. rather than images of other artworks like paintings or drawings.

All photographs by Guy L’Heureux

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Include all documents When applying for a project, make sure all required documents are enclosed. For most calls, you will submit a complete entry form, curriculum vitae, a proposal package (written description of your proposed artwork, an artist’s concept, size, materials and timeline), a budget, visual documentation of previous work (including photo credits, dates, size, media, etc.), an image of the proposed work, and return postage if you wish to have your application returned. Always submit your application on or before deadline. Edmonton Arts Council staff is available to answer questions or assist artists in the application process. For more information, please call 780-424-2787 or email publicart@edmontonarts.ca.

Criteria The Edmonton Arts Council has set out some proposed criteria for appropriate public art projects. The inherent quality of the artwork itself is the top priority. It must be also be accessible to the public, and/or be visible from publicly accessible areas. The artist should possess previous expertise in creating public artwork or related art exhibitions, and demonstrate a notable past history of artistic practice. Diversity of media, style and background of the artist are also considered. Artwork should also be appropriate to the installation site, including scale, material, form and content, as well as having elements of design that enhance or define the space and establish focal points or a visual identity for the City of Edmonton. Creation of the artwork must be feasible, i.e. it is possible to create within the parameters of the site, budget, deadline, and materials. Safety, durability, and legal considerations such as liability are also important criteria.

Next Steps Once the planning is complete, the artist will work with the EAC and the developer to construct, ship, and install the artwork. There will be complete documentation of the production and installation of the artwork, including photographs and a brief written history of the site, artwork and artist, and a conservation and maintenance assessment. The conservation and maintenance schedule will be followed according to the artwork’s needs. The maintenance plan is created according to recommendations by the City of Edmonton, the artist, and the Public Art Conservator. It is important to conserve all public artwork to determine its insurance value and to ensure that the work does not deteriorate over time. An improperly maintained piece of public artwork may become a public safety issue.

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Public Art Guide for Artists  

Public Art Guide for Artists

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Public Art Guide for Artists