Tacoma’s ‘front porch’ set to get an artistic makeover

Artists from around the nation are vying for the $185,000 gig to create a “gateway artwork” for the south entry to downtown Tacoma at Pacific Avenue and South 26th Street. This effort is being done to spruce up the nearby Sound Transit train crossing that was created to extend service to South Tacoma and Lakewood. This site is framed by the Pacific Avenue train bridge and a landscaped berm that elevates to meet the rail line overpass. “Because this is a national call, we expect to see well over 100 applications for this opportunity,” Cultural Arts Specialist Naomi Strom-Avila said. “There is no set cap on how many can apply but we’ve seen 100 to 160 applications for other national calls around this budget.” Those artist resumes of previous works will then be reviewed by a panel of residents, community and business folks and artists, who will select between three and five finalists for further review. “Those finalists are then interviewed by the panel and an artist or artist team is selected for the project,” Strom-Avila said. “This is a Request for Qualifications versus a Request for Proposals.

We set it up this way because we strongly believe that anyone (including our own residents) selected for a public art commission needs to know more about the area, the needs of the community, details about the site and construction, etc… before they can throw down a random idea. This research takes a lot of time but is very important to developing a relevant concept and one that can be embraced by the community because the artist has done his/her due diligence in working with the community to come up with the proposal.” Once an artist is awarded the contract, the process follows several phases that include reviews by Sound Transit, which is the backer of the work under its Sound Transit’s Public Art Program. “There is quite a lot of back-and-forth between artist and community representatives to refine concepts/proposals,” Strom-Avila said. The deadline for submitting the applications is Dec. 17. The review will come after the first of the year. Installation will begin in the spring of 2014.


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