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Public Art Program Seeking Artists For Hire

Photo by Philip Rogers
"Your Essential Magnificence" is a sculpture created by James Edward Talbot at 2204 S. Congress Ave. It was a project of the city's Art in Public Places program, which is hoping to recruit artists to its pool of pre-qualified talent.

If you are a visual artist or know of any who want to get paid for their work, the City of Austin islooking for peopleto add to a pool of artists they call upon to create works of public art. We were curious about this, so we called the city's Art in Public Places program administrator Meghan Wells to ask some questions about it.

KUT: What kind of artists are you looking for exactly?

Meghan Wells: We're looking for qualifications from artists who are interested in being commissioned for public art projects through the program in a streamlined way. In essence, we're looking for a way to create a pool of artists we can pull from to expedite the selection project for various public art projects that are coming along.

KUT: How much money could an artist expect to earn? 

Wells: We expect the budgets to range from around $20,000 to around $300,000, so there are opportunities for both emerging artists and established artists. We're looking to really diversify our artist pool by adding new members to it, and then looking at each public art opportunity as a way to possibly just draw from that pool directly.

KUT: How big is the pool? What are an artist's odds of being selected for a project if he or she makes it in?

Wells: We don't exactly know how many are going to be members of that pool. We don't have a set number that we will cap it at. But we want to get high quality applications from artists who have shown evidence that they are able to translate their past work into a public setting. 

We know it's going to be a popular pool with a lot of applicants, because it is open nationwide. However, we are looking for local, regional and national artists. 

KUT: ​Do Austin artists get any kind of priority? 

Wells: There's not a priority for Austin artists, but the majority of our collection does come from Austin artists. We want to showcase those local talents as well as people from beyond Austin. We will definitely have spots available for Austin artists. There is no set amount, but we definitely want to see a lot of Austin artists included in the pool. 

KUT: What could I do to improve my odds of being selected? 

Wells: We are looking for artists who have experience working in a variety of media and materials, primarily suited for the public realm. They have to be experienced with durable media or willing to delve into durable media. A lot of our settings are outside or in exterior locations although some are interior. 

We're looking for people who are interested in collaborating with other design professionals on the teams, city staff, stakeholders, citizens. Public art is a really collaborative process and we want artists who are interested in sharing ideas with others and getting input along the way. 

KUT: How do people apply? 

Wells: Applications are due Friday, January 30 by 5 p.m. They're to be submitted through our online portal at

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @KUTnathan.
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