Open Call: Houston Unveils Plan to Add Works by Texas Artists to City’s Collection

by Christopher Blay June 24, 2020
Rendering for new Sunnyside Multi-Service and Health Center-Houston

Rendering for new Sunnyside Multi-Service and Health Center, Houston

Houston’s Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs (MOCA) has announced a plan that includes 100 opportunities for Houston and Texas artists to apply for open calls for qualifications for public art projects at both of Houston’s airports and the city’s new Sunnyside Multi-Service and Health Center.

Funded by The City of Houston Civic Art Program which designates 1.75% of qualified Capital Improvement Project dollars for civic art, Houston’s MOCA announced opportunities for artists and artist groups to have their artwork selected for the City’s art collection in April. It was the City of Houston’s response to the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Houston Arts Alliance will manage the selection process, and selected artists must be willing and able to sign a commission contract with Houston Arts Alliance.

“Two months ago, we announced new art for the Alief Community Center, and we now have new projects coming to Sunnyside and the City’s airports,” says Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. “While we fight against the health impact of the virus, we are also fighting the economic effects with these new investments.”

The Houston Health Department’s 12 multi-service centers and five health centers in the city provide educational resources, and address the social service needs of the community.

“The importance of health workers has never been more clear locally and globally,” says Debbie McNulty, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs. “To be commissioning new artwork for a community multi-service and health center at this time has taken on greater meaning and significance.”

“This is a difficult time for all people, including artists — many of which are either self-employed or small business owners,” Houston Airports Curator of Public Art Alton DuLaney says. “It’s unfortunate that many galleries are closed, and many artists are out of work. We hope this will be a lifeline for some of them. We are honored to be in a position to lift-up our Texas artists in this way while enriching Houston Airports’ public art collection.”

Information about available opportunities and some qualifications and procedures are as follows:

Sunnyside Multi-Service and Health Center
RFQ Submission Deadline: Monday, July 27, 2020
Artist Info Session #1: Wednesday, July 1, 2020
Artist Info Session #2: Thursday, July 11, 2020

Houston Airports Portable Works
RF Deadline: Monday, August 3, 2020
Artist Info Session #1: Saturday, July 8, 2020
Artist Info Session #2: Thursday, July 18, 2020

Houston Airports New Commissions
RFQ Deadline: Monday, August 10, 2020
Artist Info Session #1: Saturday, July 8, 2020
Artist Info Session #2: Thursday, July 18, 2020

For more information about the Civic Art Program, please visit the City of Houston website here.


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Rainey Knudson June 25, 2020 - 21:10

Speaking of airport art, the City of Houston should reinstate the Art Guys’ “Video Ring” installation in Terminal E at IAH. This was a beautiful oasis in the oval space in the center of the terminal. I watched many times as rushing travelers paused and looked around in wonder, enjoying the sight and sound of the video, which followed itself around in a circle like a snake eating its tail. “Video Ring” did what art should do: take you out of the hurry-hurry-hurry for a moment, and make you pay attention to beauty.

The city owned the piece; the city let it fall into disrepair. United Airlines was permitted to place a huge advertisement in a space that had been dedicated to art as part of the percent for art rule, turning a beautiful oasis into something banal, commercial and joyless.

Hopefully these days the City of Houston is committed to the upkeep of any new artworks it commissions for the airport system. Sadly, “Video Ring” is not even mentioned on the airport art website.

It did exist, however.

Sandra September 22, 2020 - 12:09

Has anyone heard from anyone in the city about who has been selected?? I’ve asked around to other artists who have applied but still no updates.

J.S January 9, 2021 - 23:42

Still haven’t heard back after applying. Has anyone heard anything after applying to this? I received an email stating that the selection process was delayed and then nothing further.


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