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Artwork Sought for Santa Rosa Courthouse Square

Posted by City of Santa Rosa ; Posted on 
Public Art; Visual - DEADLINE :  
Artwork Sought for Santa Rosa Courthouse Square




The City of Santa Rosa, California, is seeking an artist to create a work of public art for Santa Rosa’s Old Courthouse Square.

Budget: $280,000 (artist fee $42,000; fabrication/installation $224,000; contingency $14,000)
Eligibility: Professional artists residing in the United States
Deadline: 01/13/2020 5:00 PM Central Time

Site History
Santa Rosa is the largest city in Sonoma County with an estimated population of 177,586. The city operates as the county seat and serves a wider county population of 500,000.

Old Courthouse Square is a central public plaza in the heart of downtown Santa Rosa. The approved Old Courthouse Square Master Plan identifies an area along 4th Street, at the terminus of Mendocino Avenue, to be dedicated to public art. The square is seen by many as the heart of the downtown and even of the city and is regularly used for a variety of special events and community gatherings. The public art installation should take into account the existing and proposed future amenities at the square, including landscaping, hardscape, lighting and public art.

Old Courthouse Square gets its name from the first courthouse on the site, dedicated by General Vallejo in 1884. The 1906 earthquake destroyed that building and much of Santa Rosa. Another courthouse was built on the site in 1908 and served as the county courthouse for another 58 years before being demolished in 1966. From 1967 to 2016, the square was bisected by a major thoroughfare connecting Santa Rosa Avenue and Mendocino Avenue.

Old Courthouse Square was reunified in 2017. Granite slabs that served as the steps of the 1908 courthouse were saved and incorporated to form the frame around the lawn which is representative of the footprint of the original courthouse on the square. Reclaiming this public square in the center of downtown Santa Rosa was a statement by the community of its value on the importance of a communal, public gathering space. It also offers a chance to make a statement about how art plays a specific role in reflecting a community’s identity and in inspiring its aspirations for the future.

Project Description
The artist or artist team selected for this project will create a dynamic public art installation that contributes to a vital, thriving space to connect with each other and with the space. The public art should be forward-thinking and express the innovation, diversity, and engagement of the community. The public art should help create a sense of place for Old Courthouse Square.

The selected artist(s) will have access to responses to a community survey to assess initial aspirations for the public art

Artwork Goals
The goal of this completed project is to provide the entire Santa Rosa community with a prominent artistic symbol that reflects the uniquely Santa Rosa values of innovation and cultural inclusivity. This art installation should inspire people living in, and visiting, our city to reflect on what is special about our community and encourage them to gather downtown to experience it first-hand. Projects that are interactive and engage visitors are encouraged.

Artwork Location Description
The “canvas” for this project can include any portion identified in the attached site diagram, including all surfaces, existing or to be newly constructed as a part of this project.


  • Jan 13, 2020 – Deadline to submit qualifications
  • Jan 21 – Finalists notified
  • Feb 3 – Project orientation for finalists
  • Mar 30 – Deadline to submit artwork proposal
  • Apr TBD – Public display of artwork proposals & other engagement opportunities
  • May 4 – Selection panel recommendation to Art in Public Places Committee
  • May – June – Finalize Artist Services Agreement with selected artist
  • Sept 2021 – Completion and installation

Selection Process
Applications will be prescreened by the Arts Coordinator and then presented to the Selection Panel. The Selection Panel will identify and recommend three finalist artists based on the project criteria. Art in Public Places Committee (“APPC”) members will have access to review all applications during this time. The finalists will be invited to submit a specific proposal for which they will be paid an honorarium. All finalists will be expected to attend an orientation to learn more about the project site and materials prior to developing a specific proposal for the project. Using the project criteria, one artist will be selected to complete the project.

The APPC will approve the final artist recommended by the Selection Panel, and the final artwork design. The Art in Public Places Committee also reserves the right to decline any or all applications, or artist(s) recommended by the selection panel, and to reissue the RFQ for additional artist candidates.

Selection Criteria

For Artist Qualifications:

  • Artistic excellence, originality and innovation as evidenced by representations of past work in photos provided.
  • Appropriateness of the artist’s medium and style for this project.
  • Experience developing artworks for public, outdoor environments.
  • Experience, success and/or interest in creating public artworks in collaboration with an active stakeholder group, including community outreach.
  • Experience with projects of similar scope and scale, or comparable professional experience to handle the requirements of working in the public sector.
  • Availability to participate in the design, approval and implementation of the project, and complete installation by the deadline.

For Artwork Proposals:

  • Artistic excellence, originality and innovation as evidenced by quality of proposal for this project.
  • Appropriateness of the artist’s proposed medium, style, and project concepts.
  • Demonstrated understanding and incorporation of the stated goals of the project.
  • Proposed artwork should be suitable for permanent outdoor placement, and address durability, maintenance and public safety concerns.
  • Proposed artwork should be an effective balance of size and scope of design and choice of materials, to ensure that the finished installation is of sufficient prominence to capture the positive attention of the public.
  • Proposal includes description of how collaboration with active stakeholder group, including community outreach, might occur. • Demonstrated sensitivity to address the potential impact of the project on public citizens.
  • Availability to participate in the design, approval and implementation of the project, and complete installation by the deadline.
  • References.

What to Submit

  1. Resume: 2 page(s) maximum
  2. Work examples: 5 – 10
  3. Artist Statement : 300 word maximum
  4. Letter of Interest outlining your qualifications and relevant experience, interest in this opportunity, and a general approach to this project (2 pages max)
  5. References: 3

How to Submit

Submit online only at
Select ‘Imagine Art in Old Courthouse Square’ and complete the Submittable online form. Once submitted, a follow-up email will notify the applicant that their application has been successfully received via the email provided in the online form.

QUESTIONS?  Contact Tara Thompson, or 707-543-4512


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