Call for Artists: RACC & MCL North Portland Library Art Glass Wall(Submissions due 9/06/23)

Request for Qualifications: North Portland Library Art Glass Wall

In partnership with Multnomah County Library (MCL), the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) invites artists/artist teams living in Oregon and Washington to submit qualifications for a site-specific interior artwork located within the new Black Cultural Center at the soon-to-be renovated North Portland Library. One artist/artist team will be selected to create a 2-dimensional artist-designed glass wall which will create a backdrop for the west side of the new Black Cultural Center. As part of the Library Capital Building Projects, MCL is renovating and expanding North Portland Library which will include an 800 sq.ft. addition to create the Black Cultural Center. Other upgrades include updated technology and internet as well as a new outdoor space which will allow for community members to relax and connect. The library sits on the same block as Jefferson High School and is located on the southwest corner of North Killingsworth Street and North Commercial Avenue in the Humboldt neighborhood, straddling north and northeast Portland in Oregon.

The budget available for the commission comes from Multnomah County’s Percent for Art Program and is $55,000. Submissions are due by Wednesday, September 6, 2023 at 11.59pm PDT.

Art Opportunity

We are seeking an artist or artist team to create a site-specific interior artist-designed glass wall for the new Black Cultural Center at North Portland Library. The 2-dimensional artwork design can be created in a multitude of mediums to then be digitized for the final artwork installation. The artist(s) is not required to have experience in digitizing their work. RACC can support meeting these technical criteria as needed. The final artwork will be installed on or within the glass depending on the fabrication process decided upon in conjunction with the artist, RACC and the project team. It is possible for the artwork to extend beyond the glass onto the surrounding wall that frames the window area, depending on the artist’s vision and budget allocations. For example, this portion of the artwork could manifest as a painted or vinyl mural. Please note that no prior experience working with glass is necessary for this opportunity. The Black Cultural Center will be a space for connection as well as a celebration of Blackness. It will highlight the diversity and history of the Black community within Portland and beyond. The Center will be a physical manifestation of the intended goals embedded within the MCL Black Resources Collection. This collection contains more than 7,000 items — books, film, periodicals, music and more — relating to the African American experience, as well as works created by African Americans and other people of African descent. In addition, the Black Pacific Northwest Collection features literature, music, film and other creative expressions of the Black experience in the Pacific Northwest. It encompasses work created by and about Black people in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and northern California. It is a living, growing collection available for use by everyone in the community. Most of the works in both of these powerful collections are housed at North Portland Library in acknowledgement of the social, cultural and economic history of the neighborhood. The programmatic elements of the Black Cultural Center are being developed through a public engagement process led by MCL in collaboration with many community partners. Further details will be available in the coming months as the reopening of the building draws closer.

The 800 sq.ft. Black Cultural Center will be located on the southeast side of the library, along North Commercial Avenue. As a result of the construction renovations and expansions, the existing library building and the Black Cultural Center will connect internally. Patrons, staff, guests and visitors will meander through the central body of the library to reach the Black Cultural Center via the main entrance, located on the north side of the site. An intimate exterior courtyard will be accessible to the west of the Black Cultural Center; it is anticipated that patrons and staff alike will utilize this outdoor space, so views of the artwork from this angle should be considered. In addition, the interior glass wall will be highly visible from the outside of the building through the east side windows of the Black Cultural Center. The art site for the artist-designed glass wall will be the glass windows and door on the west wall of the Black Cultural Center, which will be located to your right as you enter from the main library. The west wall is approximately 12 ft. in height and 16 ft. in width, within that the total area of the glass (and artwork) is approximately 185 sq.ft. The glass is split into 4 sections; 3 windows and 1 door, including a small fixed pane above the door. Each section is approximately 4ft wide and 11 ft. high. In addition to library users, the art site will be visible to passersby along North Commercial Avenue through the east side windows of the Black Cultural Center. The enclosed exterior courtyard will be accessed through the glass door of the Black Cultural Center which is part of this project’s scope. The relationship and creative dialogue between these spaces and the artwork should be considered.

The artist/artist team is expected to provide a high quality artwork which can be translated into the design for the art glass wall as a final deliverable for construction. The artist(s) will also work with RACC and the project team to select a fabricator who can produce the glass panels to fit the architectural design of the pre-built frames. MCL and RACC believe this project could be a professional development opportunity for an artist or artist team who are eager to expand their portfolio and practice, specifically in terms of fabrication and use/range of mediums, due to the support and technical assistance available from RACC and other project partners. RACC and the project team are available to assist the artist(s) in translating their artwork design to the glass wall, including methods such as digitization. The architectural team will coordinate installation of the glass directly with the contractor, and the artist(s) will be invited to review samples, installation drawings and the final install.