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City Looks to Commission Artists to Document Firefighters and Emergency Responders

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT
This Webberville Road fire station is one of the six that will receive new commissioned works of art through a city public arts program.

Visual artists seeking a muse and a commission may be able to find both with some of Austin’s emergency responders.

The city's seeking applicants for two new artist-in-residency positions, with the goal of featuring artistic portrayals of firefighters and emergency responders on soon-to-be-renovated buildings. One artist will create art for six firehouses, and the other will do the same for three Emergency Medical Services buildings. 

Starting in July, the chosen artists will spend about 10 to 15 hours a week observing emergency crews on the job. After two or three months of observation, the artists will propose a series of two-dimensional works for inside and outside areas of the buildings. The works will reflect or document the “people and operations” of the Austin Fire Department and Austin-Travis County EMS.

“The artwork must reflect the mission of AFD and EMS to create safer communities through prevention, preparedness, and effective emergency response,” the city said in a written statement.

The city hopes that the residency format will bring forward "thoughtful artwork that could truly reflect the artists’ deepened knowledge and dynamic interactions, as opposed to static depictions of fire fighters and emergency medics," said Carrie Brown, the project manager for Art in Public Places.

The City of Austin's Art in Public Places (AIPP) program, part of the Cultural Arts Division’s Economic Development Department, is looking to fill the positions with professional visual artists who are local to the Austin metro area – that includes Travis, Williamson, Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Burnet and Blanco Counties. The application deadline is 5 p.m. on April 21.

The budget breakdown for the two commissions is $38,000 for the AFD position and $48,000 for the one with EMS. The funding, which comes from a portion of the renovation budget, covers both the residency period and the fabrication and installation of the work.

The fire stations are located at:

  • 1201 Webberville Road
  • 201 E. Chicon Street
  • 5309 E. Riverside Drive
  • 5811 Nuckols Crossing Road
  • 6702 Wentworth Drive
  • 5401 McCarty Lane

The EMS stations are located at:

  • 6601 Manchaca Road
  • 5211 Balcones Drive
  • 5401 McCarty Lane

The city is taking applications at until 5 p.m. April 21. See more about the selection criteria here.

Artists interested in applying for either or both positions are encouraged to attend an information meeting today from noon to 1 p.m., and those interested who cannot attend will be able to find materials from the meeting online here. Below you can find that and other information from the city's announcement.