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The City of Oakland's Public Art Program commissions original works of art for public spaces throughout Oakland. The program enriches the city’s visual environment, integrates the creative thinking of artists into public construction projects, and provides a means for citizens and visitors to enjoy and experience cultural diversity. Public Art projects are funded through a 1.5% allocation from all eligible City of Oakland capital improvement projects and eligible grant revenue.
Installation of Dan Corson's Shifting Topographies at the BART 17th Street Gateway in the Uptown District
Uptown BART - 17th Street Gateway: Shifting Topographies by Dan Corson
Commissioned as part of the Public Art Program's Luminous Oakland initiative, Dan Corson's dynamic color-shifting topographic wall sculpture and artist-designed lighting have transformed an underutilized shortcut from Broadway to Telegraph Avenue - an entrance to the BART 19th Street station - into a new gateway for the Uptown District. The sculpture, coated in what Corson calls "chameleon paint," shifts color from blue to green with the sun's movement through the sky and as pedestrians pass through the space. During evening hours the lighting projectors splash dynamic color patterns across the sculpture's surface, capturing the excitement and electricity of the Uptown.
This is the first permanent artwork realized through the Luminous Oakland initiative to develop a media-arts corridor in the Uptown District, emphasizing illuminated, light-based, and large-scale public art. Other Luminous Oakland projects include the temporary sculpture displays at Uptown ArtPark (19th & Telegraph) as well as the City's initial partnership in the media projection program on the Great Wall of Oakland (at W. Grand Avenue and Valley St.).
For more information about Luminous Oakland:
The Uptown ArtPark was launched with a grand opening on April 5, 2013. A new call for a second round of sculpture installations will be issued in 2016. Sign up for the mailing list to receive details when the call is released! In the meantime, a portion of the inaugural exhibition, Repurposed, is still on display. Learn more about the exhibition and the participating artists.
Many other exciting Public Art projects funded through local bonds and state grants are underway throughout Oakland. These include:
- Measure DD: Lake Merritt - Estuary Channel
- Measure DD: Lake Merritt Garden Gates
- Measure DD: Lakeside Green Streets Project
To learn about these current projects and recently completed Public Art Projects, visit our Public Art Projects page.
Public Art Calls for Artists
To learn more about current City of Oakland Calls for Artists and other artist opportunities, visit our Public Art Calls For Artists page and sign up for email announcements with the link at the top of this page.
In 1989, the City of Oakland adopted a Public Art Ordinance authorizing the allocation of 1.5% of municipal capital improvement project costs to commission and acquire public art.
Public Art staff, with guidance from the Public Art Advisory Committee, administers these funds and provides vision, planning and project management for Oakland’s public art collection. Gifts of art offered for placement on City property are reviewed through a public process managed by staff for approval by the Advisory Committee and City Council.
The Public Art Advisory Committee is an advisory body to the Office of the Mayor, Oakland City Council, and the City Administrator's Office on all matters related to public art in Oakland. Its members are appointed by the Mayor and approved by City Council. The Advisory Committee supports City staff in the development and operation of the City of Oakland's public art program. For more information, visit the Public Art Advisory Committee page.
Public Art Program Goals and Objectives
- Develop and implement plans and budgets for all public art projects annually.
- Develop and maintain a list of potential jurors and panelists and develop a maintenance survey/work plan.
- Coordinate the selection of artists or artworks for the Public Art Program, with a majority of public art commissions awarded to Oakland-based artists (i.e., those with residence, studio or primary professional employment in Oakland).
- Serve as liaison between the Public Art Advisory Committee, City Administrator's Office, Mayor's Office, City Council and other City departments.
- Solicit funds from foundations, corporations and public agencies for public art projects in Oakland.
- provide opportunities for artists which advance their artforms and which broaden the role of the artist in the community;
- develop for the City of Oakland a collection of the highest quality artwork which reflects its culturally diverse community and its ever-changing needs;
- enliven, enrich and enhance the quality of Oakland's visual environment and public spaces;
- integrate the work and creative thinking of artists into the planning, design and development of the City of Oakland by promoting and facilitating collaborations between artists, architects, landscape architects, engineers and other designers in all public construction or urban design projects and by encouraging such collaborations in the private sector;
- provide employment opportunities for artists through the commissioning of artwork;
- provide opportunities for citizens and visitors to participate in, experience and understand the processes involved in the creation of public art.
Public Art Ordinance and Documents
In 1989 the City of Oakland adopted a Public Art Ordinance (11086 C.M.S.) for a "Percent for Art Ordinance" plan which authorizes the allocation of 1.5% of municipal capital improvement project costs for commissioning of public artwork. These monies are set aside in the Public Art Program Fund for administration by Public Art Program staff.
In 2014 the City amended the municipal code to adopt Chapter 15.70, Public Art Requirements (13275 C.M.S.), which established a new requirement for .5% of residential or 1% of nonresidential private development project costs for public art.
The Public Art Advisory Committee reviews all public art projects funded in whole or in part by the City as well as projects proposed for placement on City or Caltrans property. The proposal requirements are detailed in the policy documents listed below.
The City charges an hourly fee for review facilitation and approval of these projects, as stipulated in the City's Master Fee Schedule, pages N1-N2, Economic and Workforce Development/Public Art Program, Cultural Arts and Marketing, posted here.
Please contact Public Art Program staff for further direction and with any questions.
Oakland Specific Documents
- Public Art Program Policies and Procedures
- Oakland Gifts Policy
- Public Art Policy Guidelines For Artist-Community Initiated Projects (including Cultural Funding Program and Anti-Graffiti Mural Grant Recipients)
- Public Art for Private Development - Submittal Checklist for On-site Art Projects
State and Federal Documents
Kristen Zaremba, Public Art Program