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Comal Pocket Park


Budget: $43,000
Activated: 02/01/2022
Deadline: 03/31/2022
Call Summary
The City of Austin Economic Development Department's Art in Public Places Program seeks to commission a professional visual artist, or artist team, to design and install a permanent exterior mosaic piece for Comal Pocket Park. Located at 300 Comal Street, Austin, Texas 78702, Comal Pocket Park is nestled in east central Austin.
Budget Description
The Art in Public Places percent-for-art funding of 2% for this project was generated from the 2012 and 2018 Bonds. The total award for the artist contract is $43,000, inclusive of design, fabrication, and installation, including engineering and permitting fees, travel and shipping expenses, insurance, and all other project-related costs.
Project Description
Today, the neighborhood is in a stage of redevelopment with new residential buildings occurring along 4th Street and beyond. In addition, the Housing Authority City of Austin (HACA) is progressing on Chalmers South and will continue the development of their existing property in the future. The park’s renovation hopes to meet the needs of the ever-changing population while maintaining a connection to the community’s storied history.

For more information on the Comal Pocket Park Renovation Project, visit:
Artwork Goals
The AIPP 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. This can be accomplished through the selection of a qualified artist or artist team who can innovatively and thoughtfully design within the context of this project. To help ensure the engagement of diverse, local voices, AIPP collaborated with Comal Pocket Park stakeholders to outline the aims for the artwork. AIPP seeks an artist or artist team to create a mosaic piece that:

- Complements the entrance arch, as well as the other natural and built features of the park;
- Establishes the park as a destination for gathering within the neighborhood, in a fun, inviting way for kids and families;
- Recognizes the park’s history and celebrates the area’s diverse community and culture;
- Is safe, easily maintained, and vandal-resistant in an exterior environment; and
- Contribute to the depth and breadth of the City of Austin’s public art collection.
Artwork Location Description
Artwork will encompass both sides of the arch on the cinderblock wall below and should be visible from the entrance and exit of the park.
Site History
The construction of Comal School was included in the school bond voted on in 1923. By 1924 construction on the new school had begun, and in 1925 Comal school opened its doors to its first class of students. At this time, it served as one of two segregated public schools for primary Mexican scholastics. In addition, it taught classes for non-English speaking first and second graders. Comal School was referred to as many names during its operation, including the Alamo Mexican School, East Avenue School, and La Escuelita. The school closed in 1936 with the opening of Zavala School.

In 1940, Mexican Consul Fidencio Soria proposed a community center to allow Mexican youths and adults to gather. The school board turned over the building free of charge to the NYA to create a community center. NYA youths worked to renovate the building, and the project was supervised by the Federacion de Sociedades Mexicanos de Austin and the Ladies of LULAC. The new Latin-American Community Center served as an NYA site in 1941. Boys and girls assigned to the Center did everything from constructing garments for public agencies to preparing and serving hot lunches to the Latin American youth working at the Fish Hatchery.

By 1942, however, the NYA changed gears and shifted its funding to defense projects in response to the needs of World War II. As a result, the Center was left in the hands of the community to maintain, and between 1942 and 1946, community organizers struggled to keep the Center funded. In 1943 the community tried to turn the Center into a Latin American Nursery School with the help of fundraising by the Presbyterian Church. The new Latin American Play Center, as it was sometimes referred to, sold Mexican food out of the Center to pay for its operations. It wasn’t until three years later that the City’s Recreation Department decided to revamp the Center and take over leadership employing Roy G. Guerrero as the site manager. The newly renovated Center became known as the Pan American Center in honor of the Pan American Round Table women that donated generously to the Center.

It was also the Center of political organizing for 15 years by groups such as the Century Club, LULAC, Mexican Patriotic Club, Club Beneficiencia, and American Friends’ Services, which provided English classes at the Center to meet their goal of helping Mexican Americans become eligible to vote as citizens. Ten years after opening the Pan American Center, they organized and lobbied to get local funds to build a new, larger Center in 1955, adjacent to Zavala Elementary, now called the AB Cantu/Pan American Recreation Center 2100 E. 3rd Street.

The old wood-frame building was torn down, and the site was dedicated as a small park. Today, it is a favorite neighborhood spot for basketball games and enjoyment of the shady play area. The colorful archway was built in 2002 as a community project funded by the Austin Parks Foundation. Neighborhood volunteers of all ages guided and participated in the construction process working with the City, American YouthWorks, and Clayworks Studio, which helped neighbors design, fire, and install the archway tiles.
This call is open to all artists who are over 18 years of age; and live in the 7-county Austin metropolitan area (Williamson, Travis, Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Burnet, and Blanco counties). Mosaic artists are especially invited to apply, as the community has expressed a strong interest in commissioning a mosaic work.

Exceptions include:
- Artists currently under contract with AIPP for a permanent commission are ineligible to apply.
- Employees of the City of Austin or project sub-contractors are ineligible to apply.

Applications not meeting all eligibility criteria will be withdrawn from consideration.
Application Requirements
Resume: 1 page(s) maximum
Work examples: 5 - 10
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: Communities
Demographics Survey: Gender
Demographics Survey: Pronouns
Demographics Survey: Race/Ethnicity
Demographics Survey: Veteran Status
Short Answer Question 1 Text
Short Answer Question 2 Text
Short Answer Question 3 Text
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 jury to evaluate the submissions. The jury and advisors will review qualifications and select three to five finalists for interviews unless there is consensus on the selection of recommending one applicant and one alternate.

The jury and advisors will then convene for interviews and select one artist/artist team and one alternate. This recommendation will be presented to the Art in Public Places Panel and Austin Arts Commission for approval. The approved artist(s) will be put under a design + commission contract to coordinate with the City and project team to develop a final design, which is also subject to approval by the AIPP Panel and the Austin Arts Commission prior to fabrication and installation.
Selection Criteria
The selection of an artist or artist team shall be based on artist qualifications that best meet the requirements contained in this Request for Qualifications.

The Selection Panel will review and consider the following evaluation criteria:
- Artistic merit and technical expertise;
- Ability to engage the community in which the artwork is being proposed; and
- Demonstrated success completing works of art.

For more information on AIPP project selection criteria, see:
Prospectus to AIPP Panel and Arts Commission for approval

Request for Qualifications Opens
Artist information meeting

Request for Qualifications Closes

Jury review of applications (Meeting #1)
Artist interviews with Jury (Meeting #2)

Approval of artist and alternate by AIPP Panel and Arts Commission

Artist Pre-Contract meeting
Artist Design + Commission contract executed

AIPP kick-off meeting

Aug – Oct
Artist community engagement

Mid-Design review by AIPP Panel

Final Design review by AIPP Panel and Arts Commission


Additional Resources
Comal Pocket Park RFQ (PDF)
Comal Pocket Park RFQ en Español (DOCX)
Contact Information
Marjorie Flanagan
Project Manager
5202 E Ben White Blvd. Suite 400
Austin TX 78741 United States



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