Art Bus Shelter Program RFP

The City of Emeryville Public Art Program  

Sharon Wilchar Temporary Art Bus Shelter Program, PHASE vII
“From Fertile ground – art and innovation” 

Deadline for Submissions: Tuesday, April 18, 2023 by 5 p.m.

The City of Emeryville is requesting proposals from emerging and professional artists working in art media that can be photographed for use as two-dimensional art, for reproductions as posters for placement in four bus shelters in Emeryville. Examples of alternate materials to two-dimensional works may include, but are not limited to: metal, textiles, sculpture, and installation art. Art works must be a proposal for four images related to the theme of the program: “From Fertile ground – art and innovation.”  The theme allows for a metaphorical interpretation of the artistic, cultural, scientific and technologic innovations based in or founded in Emeryville. The Sharon Wilchar Temporary Art Bus Shelter Program has been successful both for the strength of individual works and for the diversity of the submittals received. Artists may submit work that express this expansive view of “Fertile Ground” to include imagery tied to local or regional ecological systems and biodiversity; human impact on the environment; ecosystems related to our regional shoreline; science and genetics, etc., as well as non-traditional interpretations. 

Each selected artist will be asked to submit four (4) different images for installation in four (4) bus shelters throughout the city. The installation period for each artist will be four (4) months. A written description of the proposal for the project and sketches or photos of preliminary works or newly completed work specifically created for the project must be submitted. Artists may present rough sketches, completed digital artwork, or photos of finished two-dimensional work. The goal of the program is to creatively enliven the bus shelters with a diverse group of temporary artworks. Up to six (6) artists (four images each) may be selected. The total time period for current phase of the project is two years. The City of Emeryville reserves the right to reject any or all proposals submitted in response to this request for proposals. 

Entering its seventh cycle, this long running, successful program for local artists was recently named for the long-time art activist and program leader Sharon Wilchar after 30 years of chairing the Public Art Committee for the City of Emeryville. 


This project is open to both emerging and professional artists 18 years of age and older who reside or work in Emeryville. Students 18 years of age or older who attend a school or an educational training institution in Emeryville are also eligible to submit. Artists whose work was previously featured in the program prior to 2017 are eligible to apply if the work submitted under the new theme is substantially different from the work exhibited in these phases, or if they submit as a team with another artist or professional in another discipline for a substantively different proposal. Artists may apply as individuals or as a team but each applicant must be prepared to provide evidence that they live, work or study in Emeryville.


In 2009, the City of Emeryville implemented the Temporary Art Bus Shelter Program (now named Sharon Wilchar Temporary Art Bus Shelter Program) to place 2-dimensional work by local artists in four bus shelters throughout the City. That year, the work of nine artists was selected for exhibition and their work was placed in four bus shelters. The Program continued for six more phases, when the work of six newly selected artists was exhibited over each two-year exhibition cycle. As a result of the success of the program, the City wishes to continue the program and to commission six artists whose work will be on display from 2023 to 2025. This RFP follows the intent of the original program to create a venue for public art in the city at four bus shelters, and to extend the program theme of From Fertile ground – art and innovation”  in this seventh phase.     


Located at the foot of the San Francisco Bay Bridge, Emeryville began over a century ago as a small tract of land north of Oakland and is now a regional retail destination and headquarters for major high-tech and biotech corporations, drawing over 20,000 workers daily. It has a residential population of over 12,000, representing an ethnically and culturally diverse mix of people. Artists make up a significant percentage of the population, and the City’s residents are committed to enhancing the quality of life in the community.

In 1991, the City implemented the Art in Public Places Program, an ordinance requiring certain municipal and private commercial development projects to include public artwork within the projects. Since then, public artworks have been installed in privately-owned locations throughout the city, and the City has commissioned or purchased many publicly-owned works of art, including the Doyle Hollis Park Fountain, “Look Closely” at the Doyle Street Community Garden, “Solar Rose” and “Three Spaces of Respite” at City Hall, “Sparky” and “Pumpers” at Fire Station #2, “Neighborhood Convergence” at the Powell Street underpass, ”Gateway,” a lighting installation and mosaic column treatment at the Powell Street Bridge, three art installations at the ECCL; temporary art installations at Christie Park and Point Emery, acquisitions from the 2006 through 2022 Emeryville Celebration of the Arts exhibition installed at City Hall, the Senior Center and the Emeryville Police Department, and an award-winning utility box public art project, “Sign of the Times” by artist Seyed Alavi, which was refurbished and reimaged in 2017.  Recent projects include the inaugural murals of the City’s Mural Program and artworks installed through the City’s new Visual Art Grants Program.  

 Rotten City Cultural District 

On July 13, 2017, the State of California announced 14 inaugural Cultural Districts throughout California. Emeryville was honored to be included in this newly launched program to celebrate the state’s diverse and abundant cultural treasures.   Emeryville was one of just a few of the inaugural program’s designees to celebrate the production of art and a culture of makers.  The District covers most of the City with the exclusion of land west of the railroad tracks and East of San Pablo Avenue.   Recalling the City’s history when it was famously labeled the “Rottenest City on the Pacific Coast” by Alameda County District Attorney Earl Warren in his fight against gambling and drinking during Prohibition, the District was called “Rotten City Cultural District” with an implicit illusion to the fertile ground for artists and entrepreneurs arising from this rebellious origin story. In 2023, the District is expected to increase its activities due to new state funding.

For background on the District see:

About the Theme: From Fertile ground – art and innovation

In 2018 the theme had been altered in celebration of the Cultural District – Celebrating the art and innovation arising from Fertile Ground.  The prior four cycles of this program had a theme of Flora and Fauna referencing plant and wildlife, as with these calls, the 2023 call encourages artists to consider work that expresses an expansive view of fertile ground, or a metaphorical approach. 

Fertile Ground can be interpreted in any number of ways and is an invitation for artists to submit their best work in celebration of the creativity throughout Emeryville leading to both art and innovation.   It can also be a celebration of the renewal of Emeryville from its industrial past to its current renaissance. Contaminated lands have been restored with the development of community gardens, parklands, affordable housing and entrepreneurial endeavors.   The Rotten City Cultural District is a celebration of the makers of Emeryville and this call is an opportunity for Emeryville artists to celebrate themselves and share their innovations and aspirations and that of the District. 

The expanded view of literal interpretation of fertile ground may include biological or medical microscopic imagery, local or regional ecological systems and biodiversity, human impact on the environment, ecosystems related to our regional shoreline, science and genetics, or humans in the context of other flora or fauna.   The geographical region of Emeryville is both rich in flora and fauna and is an active leader in the field of biotechnology. Consideration of a range of indigenous plant and animal species that have historically been a part of the area or the field of biotechnology may be considered. 

As the range of interpretations are potentially quite broad, it is critical that submitting artists consider that a chief goal of this project and the Emeryville Art in Public Places Program is to create public art that inspires delight for all those who see it, while fostering awareness of the arts and the local art community in Emeryville. The installation of the works will be in bus shelters throughout Emeryville. The bus shelters will serve as art sites and offer the potential to introduce work to a new audience


The Emeryville Public Art Committee, as an advisory committee to the City Council that implements the City’s public art program, developed the Sharon Wilchar Temporary Art Bus Shelter Program to increase the exposure of public art and area artists to Emeryville and the surrounding community. The goals of the Sharon Wilchar Temporary Art Bus Shelter Program Phase VII, with the theme From Fertile ground – art and innovation,” continue to be to:

  • Support the design, fabrication, and installation of outdoor public art works in the city of a temporary, rather than permanent, nature.
  • Enhance the aesthetics and quality of the bus shelters in the city, thereby enlivening the experience for transit riders and others, as well as to encourage the use of public transportation through the installation of public art works within bus shelters.
  • Broaden viewers’ perspectives of the opportunities created through the installation of public art.
  • Support the theme of the Call for Entries, “From Fertile ground – art and innovation”, to include images and themes related to transformation, aspiration, growth and potentially an embodiment of the Rotten City Cultural District. 
  • Encourage a variety of art forms and increase the understanding and enjoyment of public art by Emeryville residents, visitors and employees.
  • Stimulate critical thinking by selecting art works with evocative and compelling themes and displaying them on a rotating basis.

 Program Overview

 The work of each artist or artist team will be selected for four installation sites in designated bus shelters throughout the city. As the sites require back-to-back printing, selected images will be printed twice. The four locations are as follows: 1) Shellmound Street serving the southerly direction, near Bay Street; 2) Powell and Commodore on the bay side of street; 3) 40th and Emery on the Northeast side of street; and 4) the bay side of Hollis Street at 63rd. The selected images will be printed by a fine arts printer retained by the City, and these art works will be exhibited concurrently as a series by one artist or artist team for a four-month period, to occur during the program period from 2023-2025. The actual dates of the installation will be determined by the City. The four images will be reproduced as high quality 69” high x 48” wide (view area: 60” high by 45” wide) prints for installation in the bus shelters. Submissions must fit within the required area and be able to be reproduced at the indicated scale. In addition, one 30”x24” set of each of the four images will be given to the artist or artist team. 

 Project Budget and Artist’s Scope of Services

 The total amount available for each set of four images is $5,000 ($1,250/image). This amount must cover all of the artist’s expenses, including development of proposals and submittal of final images. For digital submissions, any related file preparation, including all embedded images and fonts that are required for submission, must be covered by the artist. Costs for any additional digital file preparation and photography costs for final art preparation of non-digital work will be provided by the City. The artist or artist team will remain the sole owner of the copyright of all images for the artwork, before, during, and after installation. The City will retain the right to use the artwork for the purposes of its Sharon Wilchar Temporary Art Bus Shelter Program and related publicity of the project and the City of Emeryville Art in Public Places Program, and will retain the right to print additional artwork for repair or reuse. The artist will agree to not reproduce the selected images for any other purpose during the period of the program and will agree not to sell the selected images to any other persons or entities during the time frame that is designated for the installation of their work. Artwork that was sold or used for other purposes either one-time or in a replicable format will not be considered, and any artwork that is discovered to be as such after submittal will be disqualified and any fees paid will be immediately refundable to the City.

City Requirements

All applicants must read and acknowledge acceptance of the terms of the City’s public art contract prior to responding to this Request for Proposals. The terms of the contract are non-negotiable and failure to accept the terms of the contract will result in disqualification from the project at the design proposal phase. The contract may be found at online at the City of Emeryville’s website here.

Selected artists or artist teams will be required to:

Selection Process

Phase One:  A five-member Selection Panel will be formed, composed of two individuals from the Emeryville Public Art Committee, an arts professional, a community member, and a City staff person. The Selection Panel will review submissions and may select up to six finalists and two alternates. The proposals will be reviewed for issues including, but not limited to, artistic excellence and appropriateness to the proposed theme. Finalists may be asked for further information or modification of their proposals after this review.

Phase Two: The Selection Panel’s recommendations will be forwarded to the City’s Public Art Committee for review and consideration. Upon approval by the Public Art Committee, the proposals will be brought to the City Council for review and approval, and the City will enter into contracts with the artists individually.

Artists may request a specific period for installation but are not guaranteed to be selected for the requested time period The City reserves the right to assign artists based on materials availability and the timeliness of submittal of contract, narrative and print ready art. 

Criteria for the selection process include, but are not limited to:

  • Artistic excellence
  • Appropriateness of images in support of the theme of “From Fertile ground – art and innovation
  • Potential of the work to spark the viewer’s interest in public art

Project Timeline

Proposals Due (must be received by City) by 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 18, 2023  

Questions regarding RFP                                                       DUE April 1, 2023       

Panel Convenes                                                                     Week of April 24 or following week

Public Art Committee Approves Selection of Artists              May 11, 2023

And Notification of Artist Finalists                                                       

City Council approves Finalists                                              June 6, 2023

Fabrication (Photo/Printing) Period                                        July and August 2023

Installation Period  (First Artist) Phase VII                             September - December 2023

Installation Period  (Second Artist)                                         Jan - April 2024

Installation Period  (Third Artist)                                             May – August 2024

Installation Period  (Fourth Artist)                                           September - December 2024

Installation Period  (Fifth Artist)                                              Jan - April 2025

Installation Period  (Sixth Artist)                                             May – August 2025

 Please e-mail questions to:  

Requirements for Submission of Qualifications

 A PDF submitted by dropbox or another file management service capable of delivering your electronic files containing the following materials:

  • Letter of Interest: Provide a written description of the art concept and proposal, typed in 12 point font, maximum two pages, outlining your approach to public art and your reason for being interested in the project; challenges or sources of inspiration for your proposal; and any other comments that might help the panel to understand your work. 
  • Biographical and contact information: Include your name, or each artist’s name if applying as a team, address, email and telephone. If employed in Emeryville, please include the name, company name, address, email and telephone of your employer.
  • Images or sketches; You may submit up to eight (8) preliminary images or ideas for the project. High quality photocopies are acceptable and prints of photographs of three dimensional works. If submitted/proposed artwork will need to be photographed for two-dimensional reproduction, if selected, a description of the final size and medium of each work must accompany the images or sketches. Four of the preliminary images will be selected for final development. NOTE: Both flat and digital artwork must be configured to work in an aspect ratio for the final production of the artwork: 69” high x 48” wide (view area: 60” high by 45” wide). 
  • Experience: Provide resumes and any other information on previously related experience not to exceed three pages. Artists working collaboratively must submit a resume or other background information for each team member.

After the project artists and artworks are selected, one (1) set of the following materials will be required of the selected artists: 

Four Images in a thematic Set

  1. Flash drive/Email/Dropbox/ with all submittal documents and electronic images
    • Maximum pixel dimensions (up to 1920 x 1920) 
    • Image Resolution (300 dpi)
    • Each image should be named with the name of the work or image number, and artist(s) last name and first name corresponding to the guide as described below 
    • Label the media with your name. 


  1. The artist agrees to allow the City of Emeryville to designate a photographer and lab to create digital images of the selected works
    • The artist will deliver and pick up his or her work at a local photo studio in the Bay Area;
    • The artist will allow the works to be photographed to create camera-ready digital image for printing and reproduction. Digital files will be available to the artist.
    • Each image should be named with the name of the work or image number, and artist(s) last name and first name corresponding to the guide as described below 

Biography/Artists Statement  

Provide a first draft of your biography or artist statement for the displayed works with no more than 300 words 

Artwork Guide

Provide each works titles, materials, and date created, of each of 4 works.