Wednesday, January 7, 2015

City of Seattle: Central Waterfront Tribal Artwork

The Office of Arts & Culture, in partnership with the Office of the Waterfront and Seattle Department of Transportation, seeks to commission an artist or artist team to create cultural artwork for Seattle’s Central Waterfront as part of Waterfront Seattle. Waterfront Seattle will replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct with 20 acres of new public spaces, streets, parks, and buildings. The artist/s will work with the city and its design team to develop artwork or artist-designed space in recognition of the tribal peoples of this region, and that should be reflective of the Coast Salish tribes that have a historic connection to this region. The call is open to established professional artists residing in Washington State and British Columbia and who are eligible to work in the United States.  Applications close 11 p.m., Tuesday, January 13, 2015 (Pacific Time).
Several major projects are underway and planned for Seattle’s Central Waterfront over the next six years. Currently, the Washington State Department of Transportation is replacing the aged Alaskan Way Viaduct, which separates Seattle’s downtown from the waterfront, with a bored tunnel. Upon completion of the tunnel, the viaduct will be demolished and a new surface street will be constructed in its place, creating new connections between downtown and the waterfront. At the same time the city is working to rebuild the Elliott Bay Seawall.
Concept Design and Framework Plan have been completed by the design team, led by james corner field operations, as part ofWaterfront Seattle, a cohesive program for re-envisioning the waterfront and its connections to downtown and beyond. The plan includes a diverse range of new public spaces and several new pedestrian connections to the waterfront. Between the street and the water’s edge, a broad promenade will run along the waterfront, and existing piers will be re-constructed as new public open spaces. Waterfront Seattle thus seeks to re-center the city on its bay. The city and state are working collaboratively across agencies and projects to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape Seattle’s waterfront.
Among the guiding concepts of Waterfront Seattle is the commitment to make “A Waterfront for All.” The city is consulting closely with local tribes on a broad range of issues, from the environment and ecology of the waterfront, cultural resources, design, the presentation of their history and stories and the representation of their cultures. The City is invested in ensuring that the waterfront reflects the stories and culture of the area’s original residents in an accurate and thoughtful manner and has been working closely with local tribes to ensure an innate Native presence in the new waterfront.
As part of the Waterfront Seattle framework plan, the design team, including an artist and arts consultants completed an art plan entitled A Working Plan for Art on the Central Seattle Waterfront. The art plan identifies the waterfront at the intersection of three forces: ecology, economy, and community, which have reshaped its function and physical character over long periods of time. Seeing the waterfront as a working waterfront through most of its inhabited history, the art plan proposes arts and culture as active presences on a new working waterfront. Alongside permanent commissioned artworks, the plan calls for events, residencies, cultural and educational institutions, and working artists on the waterfront. The Seattle Arts Commission reviewed and endorsed the art plan, and it guides the development of art projects for the waterfront. Among these projects is one that recognizes the cultural contributions of local tribes.
The shoreline of Elliott Bay has played an important role in the lives and economies of several Coast Salish cultural groups, for at least 13,000 years. Through oral histories, archaeological studies, and historical documents, we know there were villages on the shoreline and just upriver from the mouth of the Duwamish River prior to the arrival of non-Indian settlers in the 1850s.
Plant and animal resources have brought the Coast Salish to Elliott Bay for generations. Fish, including salmon, in the bay, shellfish in the tidal zone, aquatic and shoreline plants, and other materials that can be gathered from the sea and shore, are important resources that play a significant role in the culture of the Coast Salish.
The bay has historically been an entry point to the interior. Using canoes, the Coast Salish traveled inland via the Duwamish River to Lake Washington and on to lakes and rivers in the Cascade foothills or to the Green River valley, upstream from the junction of the now-defunct Black River at the location of today's Tukwila. In the post-contact era, the shores of Elliott Bay served as a stopping point for Indians from around Puget Sound and as far away as Alaska who traveled along the waterways to harvest hops and fruit from fields in the river valleys.
Overland trails began at the Elliot Bay shoreline. After landing canoes on the beach, the Coast Salish could reach a settlement in a prairie, known as babáq Wab, on the now-regraded Denny Hill, that overlooked Lake Union. Further south, a trail led east over the steep hill to Lake Washington.
The Elliott Bay shoreline has been an important place where people come together for trading, forming political alliances, and socializing. Feasts, games such as sla-hal, and canoe races marked the occasions. Today, this tradition continues with the annual Salmon Homecoming celebration that is held on the waterfront. Likewise, the bay and the city play an important role in the economic life of the tribes, providing resources and markets for products sold by tribal enterprises. 
Scope of Work
One artist or artist team will be selected to work with the design team to create original artwork within the Waterfront Seattle project site. There are no preconceptions of what this artwork can be; the artist/artist team will work with the design team and the city to investigate sites and develop permanent artwork that acknowledges both the history and presence of local tribes. The artwork could take the form of placemaking, sculptures, carvings, site enhancements; it can be a singular element, a series of pieces, spaces for gathering and storytelling, two or three dimensional.
The artist/artist team will work with the design team through 2015 to develop artwork concepts and design. The expectation is that the artwork would be installed during construction of the waterfront promenade, after 2016.
One artist or artist team will be selected to receive a commission of $25,000 for initial design and concept work. Upon approval of the design and conditioned on the office securing future waterfront 1% for Art funds, the artist/artist team will be contracted for fabrication and installation for $225,000 inclusive of all fees, taxes, fabrication, delivery, installation, travel and additional site work if necessary to accommodate artwork.
The call is open to established professional artists residing in Washington State and British Columbia and who are eligible to work in the United States. As the artwork will recognize the original residents of the area and should be reflective of the Coast Salish cultures, artists who have a historic and/or artistic connection to the tribal peoples of this region are strongly encouraged to apply. Artists may apply individually or as a team of no more than two. The Office of Arts & Culture encourages diversity in its collection. Artists whose work is well-represented in the City’s collection are eligible to apply, but the artist selection panel will consider artistic diversity as one factor in the selection process. The artist selection panel will include enrolled members of local federally recognized tribes in order to ensure accurate representation of Coast Salish art and culture. Students are not eligible to apply.
The artwork is funded by Seattle Department of Transportation 1% for Art funds and administered by the Office of Arts & Culture.
Application Deadline
11 p.m., Tuesday, January 13, 2015 (Pacific Time).
We are offering a free, optional workshop that will provide some general information about Waterfront Seattle and the CaFE online application system.
Tuesday , November 18, 2014 from 3:00 – 4:30 pm
Boards and Commissions Room, L280, Level L2, Seattle City Hall, 605 5th Avenue, Seattle
RSVP (requested but not mandatory, having your name will help us with planning and any updates) to
application requirements
  • Letter of interest (not to exceed 2,000 characters). Please read the prompt in CaFÉ before uploading your letter of interest. Please demonstrate why you meet the selection criteria. If you are applying as a team, the letter should clearly describe the contribution of each collaborator.
  • Résumé
  • Three references
  • Up to 16 images
  • Image Identification List (not to exceed 500 characters for each image). If you are applying as a team, the image identification should list the name of the artist for each image submitted. Do not omit the Image Identification list or your application will be incomplete.
All applications must be submitted digitally through the CaFÉTM online system. Link to the online application via view the full application requirements.
Selection Criteria
The artist will be selected on the basis of the following criteria:
  • Connection to tribal nations, especially an artistic connection to this region and Coast Salish cultures
  • Quality of concept, design and craftsmanship of past works.
  • Visual and technical sophistication.
  • Creativity of approach.
  • Demonstrated understanding of the culture, history and art of the Coast Salish tribes
  • The ability to produce durable outdoor art.
  • A proven ability to coordinate and collaborate with project managers and design professionals.
  • Demonstrated ability to complete projects on time and within budget.
The Office of Arts & Culture is committed to reflecting the diversity and cultural richness of our city in the selection of artists and artworks. References provided as part of this application will be contacted prior to artist interviews.
Selection Process
The selection process will take place in two parts. During the first round, a panel of arts professionals, tribal representatives, city staff and community members will review the applicants’ images, qualifications and other materials. The panelists will identify up to four finalists to interview at a second panel meeting two to three weeks later. The panel will select one artist or artist team to be awarded the commission. The artist selection panel will include enrolled members of local federally recognized tribes in order to ensure accurate representation of Coast Salish art and culture.
Notification of Results
Artist finalists will be notified in February and be asked to interview approximately two weeks after they are notified (date to be determined).
All artists will be notified of the selection panel’s decisions by late March, 2015.
The Office of Arts & Culture reserves the right not to select any of the applicants.
We’re here to help
Please contact Ruri Yampolsky, at or (206) 684-7309.
If you are applying using CaFE for the first time we suggest applying in advance of the application deadline to allow for formatting of your images and uploading of all required application requirements.
For assistance with the CaFE online application process, contact CaFE tech support at (888) 562-7232 or, Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Pacific Standard Time.

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