City of OKC offers lists of pre-qualified artists
Finding the right artist for a project can be a daunting task. Even before finding the best person, deciding on what kind of art to feature at a business can be baffling as well.
Would a sculpture best convey the message you want to say? Is a mural a better idea? What about something in the pavement?
The City of Oklahoma City is ready to help answer these questions with its Pre-qualified Artists Pool. For projects commissioned at $25,000 or less, the publication offers a lists of artists, their medium and examples of their work. The artists on the list be used for any project, though the arts commission will still have to approve the work itself prior to permitting.
Projects over $25,000 have to go through the public bidding process for an artist.
The 2019-2020 edition of the 333-page publication is the fifth edition of the booklet. Getting all the artists together in one guide was the culmination of another effort that started in 2009, said Robbie Kienzle, arts and cultural affairs liaison and program planner for the city.
Starting in 2009, the city developed a comprehensive public art master plan. With architects and developers working on the plan with a national consultant, Kienzle said the one questions that often arose was, “How do I find qualified artists?”
At that point in the city’s history, there weren’t enough opportunities to have a list. The 1% for public art ordinance was adopted in 2009, so when earlier projects arose, the artists would help connect each other.
The first qualified artists pool was created in 2014 with about 30 people on the list, said Kienzle.
Now, the pool has more than 100 artists in it, with categories added to help expanded the type of art that’s considered.
“The pool catalogs helps people seed ideas,” Kienzle said. “It’s really hard to have expectations for something if you haven’t seen it. A lot of times when I go speak to a neighborhood group, the first thing I show them is the pool and when they look through it, they immediately start getting ideas.”
Within the booklet, the city offers advice on working with the artists, including that the artist should be paid when coming to review the site where the work might go. There are also tips on getting a permit, completing a project with lighting and how to create an art marker.
The pool is updated annually and artists who are already on the list only have to reapply every three years, but can apply to be in a different category if their art focus changes.
There’s no limit on the number of artists that can be in the pool, so in May, the city will again work with partners like Midtown Rotary, Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center, the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition and the Oklahoma Public Art Network to help recruit more artists. During a one-day "bootcamp" event, the arts and culture office will discuss the qualification process and how to get in next year’s pool. Artists in the pool also share their experience and the projects they’ve done since being in the publication. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org.