CAPTION: Faith leaders are joined by tenants who are behind on rent and facing displacement as pandemic-era eviction protections lapse as they rally and march in the streets of New York on Aug. 31, 2021. 

(Photographs by Brittainy Newman/Brittainy Newman for NYTimes)

Assignment ID: 30259413A
Trenton Asphalt Art Initiative | Photographer: Brittainy Newman | Artist: George Bates

ASPHALT ART INITIATIVE

Create Birmingham, in partnership with the City of Birmingham, invites local artists to submit qualifications for a public art project in the Smithfield neighborhood that will activate the intersection of 8th Avenue West and Center Street.

Last year, the City of Birmingham was one of 26 cities across the country selected to receive an Asphalt Art Initiative grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies. The Asphalt Art Initiative is designed to fund visual art on roadways, pedestrian spaces, and public infrastructure in U.S. cities with the goal of improving street and pedestrian safety, enhancing underutilized public space, and promoting collaboration and civic engagement in local communities.

Birmingham’s Asphalt Art Initiative project seeks to activate a critical juncture of mobility, social infrastructure, and history in the Smithfield neighborhood. The intersection of 8th Avenue West and Center Street is anchored by Smithfield Court public housing and the Smithfield Branch Library. Eighth Avenue West serves as a main thoroughfare within the neighborhood and between the neighborhood and downtown, connecting residents to A.H. Parker High School and the city center. Despite its potential as a gateway and gathering space, the intersection and adjacent library plaza are currently underutilized.

ARTIST FEE: $4,000
DEADLINE: MONDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2022 AT 11:59 PM

Click to view the project site map

PROJECT APPROACH

Painting the asphalt intersection and activating the library plaza with new signage, temporary furniture, and art installations will create a stronger sense of welcome. A new micro-mobility hub in front of the library and planned bike/scooter lanes along 8th Avenue West will introduce new transportation options, and a new bus shelter will increase rider comfort. These elements will work together to create a neighborhood hub. The installation process will include community participation, and project partners will plan a series of subsequent events to activate the library plaza and extend the project lifecycle.

ELIGIBILITY

This call is open to qualified artists, aged 18 or over, residing in or with a demonstrable history of working in the City of Birmingham. Artists with connections to Smithfield or the surrounding neighborhoods are especially encouraged to apply. Rather than submitting site-specific proposals at this stage, artists are asked to submit qualifications via an artist statement/bio and a portfolio of previous work. An image of the Birmingham project site and examples of other successful Bloomberg Philanthropies Asphalt Art Initiative public art projects from around the country can be found on this page.

Chattanooga Asphalt Art Initiative | Photographer: Kathleen Greeson | Artist: Kevin Bate
Local artist Candy Carver, left, and community volunteers gather to paint her design  as part of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Asphalt Art Initiative at the Club Crossing intersection in Durham, NC on May 22, 2021.

(Travis Dove for Bloomberg Philanthropies)
Durham Asphalt Art Initiative | Photographer: Travis Dove | Artist: Candy Carver

SELECTION PROCESS & ARTIST EXPECTATIONS

Three artists will be chosen for final consideration by the City of Birmingham and Create Birmingham based on this initial submission. Additional project details and parameters based on permitting and public safety requirements will be provided for the final round of consideration. A review panel of City and Library staff, neighborhood residents, and local stakeholders will make the final artist selection. 

The review criteria for both the first and final rounds can be found here.

The selected artist will conduct contextual site research and community engagement to inform the design of the intersection artwork, in collaboration with the City of Birmingham and Create Birmingham. The artist will partner closely with the City’s Department of Transportation and Department of Planning, Engineering and Permits, as well as Smithfield community members, which may result in design adaptation based on community feedback, traffic laws, and/or public safety restrictions. The artist will also participate in installation of the artwork, along with a team of community members and project partners.

PROJECT TIMELINE & IMPLEMENTATION

  • February 14, 2022: Submissions due by 11:59 p.m.
  • March 11, 2022: Three artists selected for interviews on March 14-16
  • March 18, 2022: Final artist selection announced
  • April 29, 2022: Design process completed with the Department of Transportation
  • May-July 2022: Permitting & site prep/Survey data & metrics collection
  • August-September 2022: Project installation
Pittsburgh Asphalt Art Initiative | Photographer: Sean Carroll | Artist: Tim Englehardt & Randi Stewart
Lancaster Asphalt Art Initiative | Photographer: Christopher Leaman | Artist: Fern Dannis & Peter Barber

The submission form can be found here.

Along with a brief form providing contact information, artists are asked to submit an artist statement/bio. In addition to outlining your qualifications, please use your artist statement to describe your ties to the City of Birmingham and make note of your approach to partnering with the communities in which you work.

Artists are also asked to upload 5-8 images of relevant past works and provide the following information for each: title, location, date completed, dimensions, materials, cost of project, commissioning entity (if any), and a one-sentence description noting your specific role in producing the work depicted.

After reviewing the submission form and requirements, please contact Create Birmingham with any questions by emailing us at publicart@createbirmingham.org.

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Norfolk Asphalt Art Initiative | Photographer: Jason Akira Somma | Artist: Mensah Bey | Assistant: Elisa Summiel