Public Art Competitions
The City of Toronto operates competitions as its primary artist selection process. The form of competition to be used for a particular project is determined by City staff and the art consultant, should there be one contracted for the project.
The role of the selection panel is to measure the artist’s present proposal and past work against the general goals of the City’s Public Art Policy and the specific objectives of the commission at hand. Qualified selection panels, comprising a majority of recognized visual arts professionals as well as representatives of the community with interests in the site, are used to select artists for public art projects for properties under the City of Toronto’s jurisdiction.
Arts & Culture Services’ Public Art Office coordinates the competition for artist submissions and community consultation, assembles and manages the jury or selection panel, and oversees all aspects of the commissioning process through to the completion of the public art work. The artist’s brief, call for submissions, and jury composition are devised in consultation with City staff from relevant departments. Alternatively, an external public art consultant may be contracted, in which case municipal staff devises the request for proposals from art consultants.
Update: Public Artwork for Glen Road Pedestrian Bridge and Tunnel, Ward 11 and Ward 13
Value of the Awarded Commission: Approximately $285,000 (+HST) CAD
A proposal has been selected and more information will be available once the City has completed an agreement with the artist.
The art component of this revitalised public space will be selected through an open two-stage competition, with a net budget of approximately $285,000.00 (+HST). The project budget includes all costs directly associated with the artwork: all fees for design, fabrication, installation, engineering and professional services, insurance, travel and other incidental expenses.
The Glen Road Pedestrian Bridge, built in 1972, is a steel and timber bridge that extends from Bloor Street East in the south to Glen Road in the north, passing over the Rosedale Valley. At the south end of the bridge, under Bloor Street East, is a pedestrian tunnel which provides a connection to Glen Road in the south and the TTC’s Sherbourne Station.
In 2003, the bridge was designated under Part V of the Ontario Heritage Act within the South Rosedale Heritage Conservation District and added to the City’s heritage register. As a result, the new structure is expected to retain the design attributes of the existing bridge, and maintain the views to and from Rosedale Valley.
The pedestrian bridge and tunnel will be widened and redesigned to address concerns about personal safety and to increase natural surveillance on the bridge and in the tunnel area.
The design is currently underway, led by the City’s consultant, Morrison Hershfield, and anticipated to be completed by late summer 2019 and tendered by the end of the year. Construction is planned for 2020-21. Public art funding is provided by the City’s City Planning-Urban Design and Transportation Services divisions.
Public Art Opportunity
The experience for users of this renewed public space will include a project by a professional visual artist or an artist-led team, selected through an open competition, with a net budget of approximately $285,000.00 (+HST). The project budget includes all costs directly associated with the artwork: all fees for design, fabrication, mechanical, electrical, structural and engineering drawings, and installation, as well as contract administration, travel and other incidental expenses.
Thematically, artists are asked to broadly consider the history and ecology of the area, some of which is detailed in the EA. The Rosedale Valley ravine is the site of a buried stream where Rosedale Valley Road now runs, and is part of the Don River Watershed. It is an Environmentally Significant Area (a space within Toronto’s natural heritage system that requires special protection to preserve its environmentally significant qualities), and is covered by the Ravine and Natural Feature Protection By-law.
The tunnel and retaining walls to the north and south are the primary sites, although artists are asked to consider the site as a whole, including the bridge landings to the north and south, and the small plaza on the south side of the tunnel at Glen Road. The overall vision should create a connection between the Rosedale Valley, the south plaza and the subway entrance and the two local communities on either side of the ravine. The bridge and tunnel are in use at all hours, and proposals should take into account day and night use and visibility.
It is anticipated that proposals could include both two- and three-dimensional components, and a combination of materials, such as paint, tile, concrete formwork (especially in the underpass), lighting elements, and small sculptural objects.
Due to the many safety and maintenance requirements of bridges, underpasses and right-of-way sites, artists must be prepared to meet and work collaboratively with City staff and contractors to develop and refine proposals according to these parameters, which will be further specified in the Terms of Reference for short-listed artists.
This is a two-stage, open, international competition for professional artists.
Per the Canada Council’s guidelines, a professional artist is defined as someone who:
- has specialized artistic training (not necessarily in academic institutions)
- is recognized as a professional by their peers (artists working in the same artistic tradition)
- has a history of public exhibitions
- has produced an independent body of work
A specially convened Selection Panel, composed of practicing arts professionals and community members, will be established for this two-stage competition.
Stage 1: Request for Expression of Interest: February 8 – April 1, 2019
The Selection Panel will review all submissions and identify a short-list of five (5) artists, based on artistic excellence and demonstrated or perceived ability to create and execute an innovative, engaging public artwork that is complimentary to the overall design scheme and context.
Stage 2: Request for Concepts: mid-April – June 28, 2019
The short-listed artists will be notified in mid-April and invited to submit a conceptual design proposal. A detailed proposal is not required, but artists should show visual concepts and thematic ideas. A detailed Terms of Reference project document will be provided to help short-listed artists prepare their proposals. Short-listed artists will be paid a fee of $2,000.00 (+HST) for this stage.
Short-listed artists will attend an interview and present their proposals to the Selection Panel the third week of June. The panel will choose a finalist whose vision for the site best suits the overall scope of this project, and has the ability or perceived ability to conceive and realize a public artwork on this site.
The selected artist will be notified in late June, 2019 and all final design drawings required for the construction tender must be submitted by early October, 2019.
By Feb. 8: EOI issued
April 1: EOI submissions due
Week of April 8/15: Selection panel meeting
April 19: Short-listed artists notified (latest)
June 3: Proposal deadline
Week of June 10/17: Technical Review
Week of June 24: Artist interviews and selection
Late June – early October: Design development of selected project, submission of final drawings to construction tender (as required).
Professional artists are invited to respond to this EOI by submitting a single .pdf document:
This document must be labeled with the name of the artist and project (Last Name First Name_ Glen Road) and include:
- CV (one for each team member, if applicable)
- Brief artist statement outlining interest in project, showing relevant experience, ability, and general artistic approach. Do not include proposals at this stage.
- Maximum ten (10) images of work, with caption including title, materials, dimensions, location, and commissioning body (if applicable). Audio / Video files may be provided via URL.
- Names and contact information for two references (preferably from recent projects).
Submissions must be received by 4 p.m., Monday, April 1, 2019.
Email submissions to: email@example.com
- Please use subject line: [last name], [first name]_Glen Road
- Submissions must not exceed 20 MB total size
We thank all respondents for their submissions but only applicants advancing to the second stage of the selection process will be contacted.
Public Art Officer
Toronto-based artist Micah Lexier has won the national two-stage public art competition for a permanent public artwork for the Don Mills Trail Revitalization Project, aimed at improving the connection to the Don Valley ravine system for cyclists and pedestrians. Eighty four artists responded to the Call to Artists. The Selection Panel unanimously chose Lexier’s ethereally poetic concept, Mechanisms for Suspending Coloured Shapes, Largely Hidden When Trees are in Bloom, Revealed When Leaves Have Fallen as the winner.
The public art installation is part of the Don Mills Trail Revitalization, a project funded by the City of Toronto and the Government of Canada. The design and construction of the trail project is a collaboration between the City of Toronto and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. The new trail stretching south from 701 Don Mills Road to the Lower Don Trail, will provide links to Toronto’s multi-use trail network and natural heritage system in the Don River Valley, which has sustained human populations for at least 12,000 years.
Proposal by Micah Lexier
My proposal is to disperse ten slender stainless steel sculptures amongst the trees on both sides of the newly paved path. Each of these sculptures suspends one or more small, coloured shapes high in the air, nestled near the branches. When given the choice between art and nature, nature wins every time. So, my concept is to create an artwork that is largely hidden when nature is in its glory, but is revealed when nature recedes into hibernation.
Thinking about ephemerality brought to mind something the musician Brian Eno wrote. He stated that his aim was to make music that can “…accommodate many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular; it must be as ignorable as it is interesting.” I kept this axiom in mind when designing my proposal. The sculptures are the result of a series of considered formal decisions, detailed enough to reward careful viewing yet subtle enough to dematerialize into the literal (and metaphoric) forest. I don’t want the coloured shapes to be so prominent that one sees them every time. I want this to be an artwork you casually come across – something viewers discover on their own.
Statement from the Selection Panel
“Micah Lexier artwork does not impose itself on the trail, its audiences or the natural landscape but rather unfolds a comfortable, entailed relationality, between nature and art. As it reveals itself in various visual manifestations and viewing points over the course of the changing seasons embraced by the natural elements surrounding it, the work promises to remain fresh and continue to be open for evolving visual discoveries without requiring esoteric back stories for viewers.” May 24, 2019
About Micah Lexier
Micah Lexier is a Toronto-based artist whose activities include making, collecting and organizing. He has a deep interest in measurement, increment, found imagery and display structures. He has presented over 100 solo exhibitions, participated in more than 200 group exhibitions and has produced a dozen permanent public commissions. In 2013 The Power Plant Art Gallery hosted a fifteen-year survey exhibition of Lexier’s work entitled One, and Two, and More Than Two and in 2015 Lexier was honoured with a Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts. Lexier’s work is in numerous public and corporate collections including The British Museum (London, England), the Contemporary Art Gallery (Sydney, Australia), The Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), and The National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa). Micah Lexier is represented by Birch Contemporary, Toronto.
Public Art Officer