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South Mountain Park and Preserve Public Art Project


Budget: $700,000
Activated: 09/13/2023
Deadline: 10/25/2023
Call Summary
The Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture, in collaboration with the Parks and Recreation Department, seeks to commission a signature artwork for the South Mountain Park and Preserve, located in south Phoenix adjacent to the Gila River Indian Reservation. POAC seeks applications from professional artists, and artist teams, working in a variety of media and artistic approaches who will be responsible for the design and implementation of the artwork.
Budget Description
The all-inclusive budget for the South Mountain Park and Preserve public art project is not to exceed $700,000. This includes all costs related to the completion of the project, including but not limited to, community outreach, design development, structural engineering, fabrication, and installation of the artwork.

Note: Some elements of the artwork may be installed by a City contractor, for convenience, depending on the final design of the artwork. However, all installation costs will be paid by the art budget.
Project Description
At more than 16,000 acres, South Mountain Park and Preserve is one of the largest municipally managed parks in the nation and consists of three mountain ranges - the Ma Ha Tauk, Gila, and Guadalupe. The park boasts more than 50 miles of trails for hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking and the roadways throughout the park are a favorite for bicyclists. Additionally, Dobbins Lookout, the highest point in the park that is available to the public, is popular with tourists and locals alike who want to get an unobstructed panoramic view of the Phoenix valley. Nearly 1 million people visit the park each year.

Notably, the mountains are considered a Traditional Cultural Property by the Akimel O’Odham and Pee Posh communities of central Arizona and therefore are culturally significant. Please visit the Gila River Indian Community ( for more information.
Artwork Goals
The artwork must honor the cultural importance of the site to the local tribal community (both historical and modern-day), serve as a gateway that guides visitors to newly constructed amenities, and celebrate a significant milestone (100-year anniversary) for this beloved recreational amenity. The artwork must also be made of durable materials that can survive the desert climate and integrate into the architectural aesthetic of the site.
Artwork Location Description
The selected artist, or artist team, will be expected to work closely with the project design team, the Parks and Recreation Department, and the nearby community to design the artwork. Additionally, the selected artist, or artist team, will be expected to solicit input regarding culturally appropriate elements through consultation with the Tribal Historic Preservation Office, which city staff will facilitate. General locations for artwork have been discussed (specially the Education and Environmental Center and the Activity Center) however final placement will be determined based on a collaborative design process. The content of the artwork must be suitable for public consumption and should avoid political statements.
Site History
In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge sold the land to the City of Phoenix making it the largest municipally managed parks in the nation at the time. The park’s first amenities, built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, included 40 miles of hiking and equestrian trails, 15 ramadas, 18 buildings and 30 water facets. Over the years, acreage has been added through bond programs and private donations which has greatly expanded the footprint of the park.

In 2016, the South Mountain Park and Preserve Trails Master Plan was adopted to make necessary improvements to the park to accommodate population growth and an increase in visitors as well as incorporate modern conservation practices. Next year, the park will celebrate its 100-year anniversary and a culmination of the projects completed through the master plan. Recent projects include upgrades to the South Mountain Environmental Education Center, the San Juan Bike Hub and the Gila Valley Lookout, and the reconstruction of the South Mountain Activity Center scheduled to be complete in late 2024.

Additional information about the park can be found in the South Mountain Park and Preserve Trails Master Plan and the South Mountain Park Design Guidelines Manual at
This project is open to all professional artists living in the United States with the demonstrated ability to meet the stated criteria regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, or age. Artists who have no previous public art experience are encouraged to apply as a team with an experienced artist or design professional. NOTE: Artists who are currently under contract with the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture may apply as part of a team but may not apply individually. Artists who have completed three or more permanent public art projects with the City of Phoenix are ineligible to apply.
Application Requirements
Resume: 3 page(s) maximum
Work examples: 6 - 10
Letter of Interest: 500 word maximum
Think of this as a cover letter to a job application. Be as succinct as possible. Describe why you are interested in this opportunity, highlight any relevant experience, and address to the evaluation criteria.
References: 3
Artists are allowed to apply in teams.
Artists applying as a team must split the allotted number of work examples between themselves.
Selection Information
Selection Process
A selection panel will be convened by the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture to review submissions received and make recommendations to the Arts and Culture Commission. Members of the panel will include art and design professionals, subject matter experts, and community members. Non-voting advisors to the panel may include City staff and members of the project design team. The panel will review the work of all applicants before selecting finalists to be interviewed. The panel will conduct interviews with the selected finalists before making a final recommendation to the Arts and Culture Commission.

The final recommendation of the selection panel will be reviewed by the Arts and Culture Commission; a subcommittee of the City Council; and the Mayor and City Council prior to the award of the contract.
Selection Criteria
Responses to this RFQu should be concise, well-organized and provide the requested information. Applications lacking the necessary information will not be considered. After evaluating all submissions, the City, at the request of the selection panel, may ask some or all of the applicants to submit supplemental information or to participate in interviews.

During the evaluation process, applications will be scored using the following criteria:

1. Demonstrated artistic quality of previously completed work 35%
2. Experience completing projects of a similar scope and scale 25%
3. Expressed interest in creating a signature artwork for this site 15%
4. Potential to create an impactful design for this project 15%
5. Experience in collaborative design work and community engagement 10%
(This can be described in your Letter of Interest and does not have to be art related.)
Schedule (subject to change)
September 13, 2023 Call to Artists released
September 27, 2023 Informational Meeting 9:00 AM (MST)
October 18, 2023 Deadline for questions and inquiries 12:00 PM (MST)
October 25, 2023 Application Deadline 5:00 PM (MST)
November 2023 Selection panel review and finalist interviews
December 12, 2023 Arts & Culture Commission approval of selected artist
January 2024 City Council approval and award of contract
Late 2024 Installation of artwork
Additional Resources
Call Description (PDF)
Q&A from Oct 20 (PDF)
Contact Information
Melodie Mendivil
200 W. Washington St, 10th floor
Phoenix AZ 85003 United States



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