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St. John Pocket Park, Austin, TX


Budget: $30,000
Activated: 01/08/2019
Deadline: 03/07/2019 7:00 PM Central Time
Call Summary
The City of Austin Art in Public Places (AIPP) program of the Cultural Arts Division, Economic Development Department (EDD) seeks to commission a professional visual artist, or artist team, to design and fabricate artwork for the St. John Pocket Park located at 889 Wilks Ave, Austin, TX 78752.

Budget: $30,000
Artist Information Meeting: January 23, 2019 6pm at St. John Community Center--7300 Blessing Ave. Austin TX 78752
Deadline to Apply: 5:00 PM (CST), Thursday, March 7, 2019

Budget Description
The funds for this project are derived from pooling 2% AIPP public art portion of the estimated construction budgets of Gus Garcia District Park and St. John Pocket Park. The total award for an artist contract is $30,000, inclusive of design, fabrication and installation, including permitting fees, travel and shipping expenses, insurance and other project related costs.
Project Description
The Parks and Recreation Department Capital Improvement Project in conjunction with funding from the Austin Parks Foundation will concentrate on transforming the mostly open barren lawn of the St. John Pocket Park. They will build a picnic pavilion w picnic tables and grills, a loop walking trail, benches, a drinking fountain, a community kiosk, a swingset and playscape turning the empty feeling space into a vibrant park and meeting space.
Artwork Goals
The Art in Public Places program seeks to commission works of art of redeeming quality that advance public understanding of visual art and enhance the aesthetic quality of public places through the selection of a qualified artist or artist team who can innovatively and thoughtfully design within the context of this project. The goal of the St. John Pocket Park AIPP Project is to select an artist/artist team who will design artwork through written and/or oral dialogue with park users and neighbors that:

--Honors and respects the history and considers the future of the St. John neighborhood and community;
--inspires fun within the park;
--illuminates the diverse community who will visit and use the park;
--is easily maintained and vandal resistant in an exterior environment; and
--contributes to the depth/breadth of the City of Austin’s public art collection
Artwork Location Description
This public art opportunity is open to a range of ideas to be proposed by the selected artist, or artist team, in consultation with the project’s design team. The selected artist or artist team will coordinate with City staff and stakeholders to develop a comprehensive design for artwork to be integrated into the park.

Possible artwork locations include utilizing structures as possible frameworks for art. Structures include:
1. Benches that flank the entrance to the park
2. A four post pavilion
3. A ½ wall at the far end of the park

Final artwork location will be determined by the selected artist in conjunction with City staff and community stakeholders.
Site History
Located in District 4 in north east Austin, St. John neighborhood straddles I-35. It is bounded on the west by Middle Fiskville Rd. and Twincrest, on the south by Hwy. 290, north by Anderson Ln and east by Cameron Rd. St. John neighborhood has a lengthy history dating back to the 1860’s when four African American Baptist ministers met under a live oak tree to establish the St. John Regular Baptist Association and later purchase 2,000 acres of land. The land was divided into several colonies including St. John.

In the early 1900’s the site which is now Highland mall held the St. John’s Orphan Home. It was an important School for African American children. During the summer, The 350-acre farm land and main building hosted an annual church encampment that included sermons, games, contests, parades, practical demonstrations and barbeque stands for tens of thousands of people. The home closed in the 1930’s due to lack of funds and later burned to the ground under suspicious circumstances.

In the 1950’s the Interregional Highway, now I-35, split St. John. The western sector was developed as Highland Mall and eastern plots were being sold to residents for home ownership. There have been many social and cultural changes to the St. John neighborhood over the last decade causing some neighborhood tension. The cultural makeup of the area shifted in the early 2000’s from traditionally African American to predominately Hispanic. Church and community leaders rallied to celebrate the diversity as well as honor the rich heritage described above and a neighborhood moto spoken by Pastor Harold Hendricks is still quoted today: “Together we can do more! Juntos podemos hacer mas!”

Neighborhood celebrity known as Thelma “Grandma Wisdom” Williams has a large “welcome” sign in her yard greeting visitors. She has lived in the neighborhood since early childhood. She hopes to create a community where people feel they can talk to each other. She has published several books and pamphlets of her thoughts and was interviewed under a pseudonym for the book Invisible Austin: Life and Labor in an American City.
Professional visual artists, or artist teams, at least 18 years of age who live in the Williamson, Travis, Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Burnet and Blanco counties are eligible to apply. A professional visual artist is defined as “A practitioner in the visual arts with an original self-conceptualized body of work, generally recognized by critics and peers as a professional possessing serious intent and ability.”

Full-time, permanent City of Austin employees including employees of the Economic Development Department are ineligible to apply. Employees of the project consultants and sub-consultants are also ineligible to apply.

Applications not meeting all eligibility criteria will be withdrawn from consideration.
Application Requirements
Resume: 2 page(s) maximum
Work examples: 10
Letter of Interest: 700 word maximum
Please explain why you are interested in this project and what makes you a good fit.
References: 3
Artists are allowed to apply in teams.
Artists applying as a team must split the allotted number of work examples between themselves.
Additional Requirements
Demographics Survey Agreement/Certification
Selection Information
Selection Process
A Request for Qualifications (RFQ) will be distributed and applications must be submitted through by the deadline. The City of Austin Art in Public Places Panel will convene a Selection Panel to evaluate the submissions. The Selection Panel shall review applications and select up to three finalists for interviews or they may select one artist or artist team and one alternate at that time. This recommendation will be presented to the Art in Public Places Panel and Arts Commission for approval.

The selected artist(s) will be put under a design contract to coordinate with the City and the project’s design team to develop a comprehensive design for artwork. The final design is subject to approval by the Art in Public Places Panel and the Austin Arts Commission and may be subject to review by other relevant City Boards and Commissions and stakeholder groups.
Selection Criteria
The selection of an artist, or artist team, shall be based on whose qualifications best meet the requirements contained in this Project Outline. In addition to the standard AIPP project selection criteria found on the City of Austin’s Art in Public Places website (, the Selection Panel will review and consider the following evaluation criteria:

» artistic merit and technical expertise;

» demonstrated successful, innovative and effective approach to public art projects of a similar scope;

» ability to successfully execute a public art project; and

» expressed interest in creating artwork within this community setting.

August AIPP Panel and Austin Arts Commission Approval of Prospectus

October CIP Project Construction Starts


January Request for Qualifications (RFQ) released
Artist Information Meeting

March Deadline for RFQ submission
Selection panel review of applications

April Artist Interviews

May Approval of artist and alternate by AIPP Panel and Arts Commission
Artist contract executed
CIP Project anticipated completion

June Artist Community Engagement

August Mid-Design review by AIPP Panel

October Final Design review by AIPP Panel and Austin Arts Commission

Q2 2020 Artwork installation
Additional Resources
St. John Pocket Park RFQ (PDF)
Contact Information
Marjorie Flanagan
Project Manager
201 E. 2nd St
Austin Texas 78701 United States