Oregon Zoo Seeks Public Artist for New Arctic / Polar Bear Exhibit

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Public Art; Visual - DEADLINE :  
Oregon Zoo Seeks Public Artist for New Arctic / Polar Bear Exhibit


The mission of the Oregon Zoo is to inspire the community to respect animals and act on behalf of the natural world. We do this by creating engaging experiences and advancing the highest level of animal welfare, environmental literacy, and conservation science.

The Oregon Zoo is a Polar Bears International (PBI) Arctic Ambassador Center and, as one of its goals, educates the public about polar bears and climate change, playing a leadership role in inspiring carbon reductions in the community.  Design of a new polar bear habitat will include developing the story of polar bears in their native habitats and changes they are experiencing as a result of melting arctic ice. The vision for the project is to develop a new and larger habitat that is developed in such a way as to encourage and promote the bears exploring, digging, swimming, scratching, and other natural behaviors.  Located at the heart of the zoo, the Central Plaza will feature three polar bear habitats and a maternity den/yard as well as visitor amenities.

An artist/team selected through this current search process will work with the zoo and the project design team to develop permanent artwork for the Central Plaza/Polar Passage at the Oregon Zoo that responds to the purpose of the site and the public art goals. Specific locations for installing artwork will be identified through a collaborative exploration between the design team and the selected artist/team. Depending on the nature of the proposed artwork, the artist/team and design team may work together to supplement the construction drawings with notes about the artwork installation.

The artwork should creatively build on the core of the project’s themes that focus on climate change, conservation, arctic culture and/or the majesty and mystery of the iconic polar bear.  Artists should also keep in mind the general goals for the zoo’s entire public art program:

  • enhancing the site and the visitor’s experience
  • inspiring curiosity about art, the zoo and nature
  • considering issues of sustainability and conservation
  • increasing awareness and appreciation of the zoo as a community asset
  • encouraging dialogue, interaction and engagement by people of all ages
  • appropriateness to site in terms of both scale and materials



The selected artist will receive a commission of $200,000, inclusive of all fees, design, insurance, engineering, fabrication, delivery, permitting, installation, travel and additional site work necessary to accommodate the artwork. The contract will be divided into proposal development and design ($20,000) and fabrication/installation ($180,000).

Applicants must have successfully completed at least two major site-specific commissions that were informed by dialogue with a commissioning body.


  • Application deadline 11:59PM (MDT) Monday, August 8, 2016
  • Artist selection for interview late September 2016
  • Artist (s) site visits, interviews early November 2016
  • Construction begins December 2017
  • Completion December 2018


Evaluation Criteria
The selection panel will score applicants based on the criteria listed below.

  • 40%     Artistic merit of submitted past work (including material handling, aesthetic appeal, and contextual response to the site and/or architecture)
  • 30%     Statement of interest and description of how past work addressed a project’s particular needs
  • 20%     Demonstrated ability to think and work in a scale and with materials appropriate to a site that is conceptually relevant
  • 10%     Demonstrated ability to successfully collaborate as part of a design team and/or experience with incorporating community engagement


How to Apply

All applications must be submitted through CaFE™.   If you do not already have a profile set up with CaFE™, then you will have to set one up free of charge.  Applicants unfamiliar with or requiring assistance with the system may contact WESTAF’s technical advisors who may provide support during the application process. Incomplete applications cannot be considered. The system will prompt the applicant if the application has not been completed but it is the responsibility of the applicant to complete and submit it by the deadline – 11:59PM (MDT), Monday, August 8, 2016.  The application must include the following materials:

  • Statement of interest (a.k.a. artist statement).  In 2000 or less characters and spaces, explain why this project, its themes and focus is of interest to you. Describe how your previous work addressed site and some similar goals stated for this project.  Include descriptions of how you worked with a design team and other comments that might help to differentiate you as a candidate for this project.  (When this item is printed, the CaFE™ system automatically omits all characters/spaces that exceed the 2000 limit.)
  • Two-page résumé uploaded as a PDF that outlines professional accomplishment and includes two professional references (name, affiliated organization, email address and phone number) for both individual applicants and teams (2 per team).  For team applications, include a 2-page résumé for each team member that are combined into one PDF.
  • Up to 10 Images of past work including details. Examples must illustrate projects within the context of a specific site. These images are the primary way the quality of your work is judged. Provide the following information for each visual:  title, year produced, dimensions, budget, media and a brief description.  Do not embed label information into the jpeg image.  Up to 3 video downloads not to exceed 3 minutes each may be included as part of the 10 images. Media preparation guidelines are available on the CaFE™ website.


QUESTIONS? Contact Peggy Kendellen, Public Art Manager, Regional Arts & Culture Council, pkendellen@racc.org or 503.823.4196

Review the full Request for Qualifications for complete project, site and application information.