City calls for BART plaza sculpture submissions

Yukun Zhang/Staff

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Calling all artists: until the end of the month, the city of Berkeley is looking for a sculpture to be featured as part of the renovated Downtown BART plaza. The open call is for an already-made sculpture to be featured in the plaza.

The city’s Civic Arts Commission will select the sculpture from the applicant pool, which is open to all practicing professional artists and artist teams in California, according to the commission’s call for artists. The piece will be on display for about a year, with a tentative installation date from November 2017 to January 2018.

The piece is part of what the city hopes will be an ongoing temporary art installation at the BART plaza, with different pieces rotating in and out. According to Mary Ann Merker, the Civic Arts coordinator, the new program “will allow us to change the sculpture about once a year to keep everything fresh.”

The $25,000 project is being funded through the city’s 1.5 percent construction budget ordinance, which designates 1.5 percent of the construction cost of eligible buildings to a public art fund. The money will go toward assisting with the installation and construction associated with the sculpture, according to Merker.

The Downtown Berkeley BART renovation began last summer, and according to BART spokesperson Chris Filippi, the renovation is projected to be completed in mid-winter.

Kim Anno, the Civic Arts Commission chair, said the selection panel has no preconceived ideas about what the sculpture may look like, beyond being capable of remaining physically sound over the months of its installation.

Matthew Jervis, vitality director with the Downtown Berkeley Association, said that other parts of the larger plaza renovation will include the installation of a sound system, lights and touch-screen kiosks around the plaza. He added that he hopes the piece will have an interactive element, “something people would be able to engage with.” Additionally, he emphasized that the piece will not only be part of the plaza renovation, but the rejuvenation of Downtown Berkeley as a whole.

“The plaza is such an amazing opportunity, such a big project,” Jervis said. “It’s really going to shape the Downtown and how the Downtown radiates from that.”

Berkeley and the Bay Area as a whole are home to many notable public artworks and public arts programs. The open-call sculpture project will add to more than 70 public art projects throughout the city that have been established by the Berkeley Public Art Program.

“It’s supposed to be a very interesting and beautiful piece that people will be able to see everyday as they go to work, take BART or head to campus. It’s like going to a gallery, only outside and you can see it every day,” Merker said.

Camryn Bell is the night editor. Contact her at [email protected].