In July 2014, the City of Greensboro, North Carolina and the Cemala Foundation, a local foundation committed to enhancing the community’s quality of life, identified a need to limit vehicular access to the pedestrian plaza at the entrance to the city’s Melvin Municipal Building. Instead of using standard bollards, funding was approved by the Cemala board to commission an artist to produce five to seven sculptures. The City provided additional funding to upgrade the surrounding hardscape and landscape for the 52’ x 81’ plaza. In addition to preventing non-emergency vehicular traffic from entering the plaza, the goal was to provide an inviting and visually interesting sculptural welcome to the city’s municipal building.
The Cemala Foundation hired Barbara Peck, a public art consultant with over eight years of experience, to lead the project. Barbara was challenged to search both within her local network, as well as nationally, to secure the best artist team possible.
Sculptural artwork that would integrate with the building’s Brutalist architecture, provide a touch of color, and be visible at night was a key focus. But planners also hoped for a series of sculptures that would reflect the city’s diverse population, honor its many employees, and invite passers-by to come closer to investigate the work. The challenge for Barbara was how to confidently search for artists outside of her local network who would be able to deliver on these requirements.
Barbara was new to CODAworx. She had come across the site while doing research for a previous project, and she realized that CODAworx was a resource with a large database of high caliber commissioned artists. Barbara created a free Basic membership, and, in August 2015, as her project RFQ was ready to announce, she turned to CODAworx to search for artists for the Melvin Municipal Building Bollard project.
Barbara’s first step was taking advantage of the free RFP Listing for commissioners on the CODAworx site, where she uploaded her RFQ. Barbara then went to the CODAworx Directory where she filtered her search for artists by “Sculpture,” and explored the Projects Library to search “Public Spaces.” She found it quick and simple to browse the extensive projects displayed in the CODAworx upgraded Creative Profiles. When Barbara identified an artist or artist team that she hoped would apply, she contacted them directly with a message through CODAworx. This was much faster and more efficient than sorting through online searches and artist websites to reach out to targeted candidates.
Using CODAworx, Barbara was able to easily identify qualified candidates, whom she invited to respond to the RFQ. Fifteen applied and ultimately five were chosen as semi-finalists. In December 2015, the review committee selected the final artist team: CODAworx members Crystal Schenk and Shelby Davis, a husband and wife artist team from Portland, Oregon.
Crystal and Shelby were also new to CODAworx. Barbara found them through a project they had uploaded to CODAworx called “This All Happened More or Less”, featured in an issue of CODAmagazine and in the Public Spaces category of the Projects Library. The project included an eye-catching shift in scale, involving miniature bronze figures installed on large dolomite boulders. Barbara had been drawn into the intimacy of the piece and requested the team apply.
Crystal and Shelby proposed five sculptural bollards incorporating concrete and illuminated cast glass. Within each glass interior, the artists captured aspects of the city’s civic pride and identity, and with figures honored the citizens who cross through the plaza every day. Their understanding of the city’s history, their fresh perspective on the city’s future, and their personalities helped win the project.
The “Five Hearths” project was dedicated on a hot day in August 2016. Since then Crystal and Shelby have upgraded to a Creative Profile on CODAworx and frequently search and apply to RFQs and RFPs through the CODAworx RFP Listing.
Barbara used to find that when she did a call she had to “just knock on bushes and see what fell out of the air.” After this experience with CODAworx, she now has a great tool for narrowing down the artist search. Barbara continues to use CODAworx to quickly identify the best possible candidates for large national commissions.
“Finding the right artist for a commission can often be a difficult process. The CODAworx site allowed me to browse through the work of accomplished public artists from all over the country—all in one place. I also loved that I could send a message to an artist directly from the site. Using CODAworx really streamlined the process of identifying and reaching out to artists I felt might be a great fit for my project.”
– Barbara Peck, Public Art Consultant, Greensboro, NC
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“It was serendipitous that we found CODAworx, and it came about at just the right time in our career. A friend contacted us about an opportunity listed on the site, and at the same time we were contacted through the site by the art consultant leading the search, asking us to apply. We applied for and were awarded the commission – “Five Hearths”, located in Greensboro NC. Since that time we signed up for a professional membership with CODAworx. It has been great to have so many opportunities at our fingertips – the site has comprehensive listings, makes it easy to search and apply for commissions, and has been an excellent networking tool.”
– Crystal Schenk, Artist, Crash Studio LLC
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