City of Seattle Seeking 2018 Fremont Bridge Artist-in-Residence

Photo Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives (Item No. 77686)

The Seattle Office of Arts & Culture (ARTS), in partnership with the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), seeks a practicing composer and/or musician to be an Artist-in Residence in the northwest tower of the Fremont Bridge. The selected composer and/or musician will undertake an in-depth exploration of the historic bridge’s role and meaning for the city of Seattle and create music in response to this residency.

The Fremont Bridge has four control towers with a bridge operator working out of the southeast tower. The bridge opened in 1917 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is the key transportation link between the Fremont, Queen Anne and Westlake communities. Fremont Bridge is a bascule or draw bridge that swings upward.  The Fremont Bridge averages 13 openings per day, with as many as 35 openings on a summer day, making it one of the busiest bascule bridges in the world. A bridge operator is on site every day in the southeastern tower, the only tower actively used for bridge control. The two towers on the north end of the bridge are unoccupied. The northwest tower will be used as the studio for this residency opportunity. It measures approximately 13 feet by 8 feet, has 10-foot ceilings and is furnished with a desk, chair, overhead lights, windows, and an air conditioning unit. The tower’s windows feature 360-degree views of the surrounding area.

Art on the Fremont Bridge
This opportunity marks the fourth art project associated with the Fremont Bridge’s towers. In the 1990s, Rodman Miller’s neon “Rapunzel” and “Elephant and Child” artworks were installed in the bridge’s northern towers, where they remain. In 2005, artist Daniel Mihalyo recommended the creation of a bridge tower artist studio in an SDOT Art Plan he authored as part of an artist residency at SDOT. In 2009, artist Kristen Ramirez was selected as the bridge’s first artist-in-residence and produced a temporary sound installation on the bridge combining oral histories with found sound. In 2016, writer Elissa Washuta used the tower as her writer’s studio from which she researched and wrote two long-form essays about the history of Seattle’s topography and waterways. This opportunity marks the first time an artist residency at this bridge is being offered to the music community.

Scope of Work
Last year, the Fremont Bridge celebrated its 100th birthday. This coming summer 2018, a composer/musician will undertake an in-depth exploration of the historic bridge and respond to the experience with a sound-based project. The residency includes access to the northwest tower of the Fremont Bridge. Artists cannot live in the tower, but may use the space as a studio, a platform for observing the bridge and its surroundings, or as a base from which to interact with the community. Early in the residency, the artist will be asked to meet and discuss his/her approach to the residency project with staff from ARTS and SDOT. In consultation with staff, the artist will set studio hours and propose concepts for the musical project, its public presentation and documentation. The artist will be required to comply with a strict safety protocol while on the bridge, including communication with the bridge operator and restricted access to specific locations within the bridge. The artist residency will run from June through August 2018.

Project, presentation, documentation
The residency will include an ongoing public component such as a blog or social media posts, in addition to community engagement events. The residency will culminate in a musical work and public presentation of the work produced while in residence. The sound piece shall represent or illuminate some aspect of the bridge and the bridge’s history, be it real or metaphorical. The artist will propose and implement public presentation(s) of the project through performance(s), public engagements, or other types of exhibition at locations and times to be determined in consultation with staff from ARTS and SDOT. While the artist retains the copyright, the sound piece shall be made available to the public digitally, residing on the ARTS website and potential other sites, depending on project partnerships. Where possible, ARTS staff will provide technical assistance, introductions to community resources, and other information as needed.

Following a public presentation of the work, the artist will provide high-quality documentation of the project for inclusion in the Municipal Art Collection. Documentation could be in the form of a CD, video/DVD, artist’s book, print materials, select objects created/exhibited as part of the project, or other appropriate forms of documentation.

The call is open to established professional musicians/composers living in Seattle or within 100 miles of Seattle. The artist selection panel will consider artistic diversity as one factor in the selection process. Artists who are well represented or have received City Artist grants, may not be prioritized as highly as those who have not. Students are not eligible to apply.

The project budget is $10,000 USD ($5,000 for residency, $5,000 for sound project, presentation, documentation), inclusive of all residency costs, project, presentation, documentation of the work, and applicable taxes. Payment will be made in installments based on benchmarks established by ARTS in consultation with the artist.

Application Deadline & Timeline
The application deadline is 10.59 p.m. (PST), Tuesday, March 20, 2018.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018, 10.59 p.m. (PST) – deadline for applications
Week of April 16 – April 20, 2018 – selection panel convenes to review applications
Week of April 30 – May 4, 2018 – finalists interviewed by selection panel
Late May 2018 – artist contracted
June, July, August 2018 – residency

Application Requirements
Applications must include:

  • Letter of Interest (not to exceed 2,000 characters). Please provide a statement describing your interest in this particular residency addressing how you are uniquely qualified for this project, as well as information about how you work, what kind of music you are involved in, what you propose to create for this residency, and what you consider the role of music in civic life.
  • Work Samples. Each artist may submit up to three (3) representative songs or compositions from their body of work, upon which the jurists will base their decision. Applicants will provide up to three (3) links to each song/composition via SoundCloud, Vimeo, or YouTube. Password-protected links will not be accepted, due to time constraints during the panel selection process. Applicants who prefer private submissions may mail in a CD/DVD to: Kristen Ramirez, Office of Arts & Culture, PO Box 94748, Seattle WA 98124-4748. Please note that the selection panel will listen to songs/compositions at up to 1 minute/submission.
  • Résumé. No longer than two pages. Your résumé should summarize your experience as a composer/musician.
  • Three References. Names, addresses, emails, and phone numbers for three professional references who can speak to the quality of your music and your potential to succeed in this residency.

Selection Criteria
The artist will be selected on the basis of the following criteria:

  • Quality of music samples
  • History of on-going growth and exploration; evidence of work across genres or in collaboration with other musicians
  • Demonstration of commitment to the values of this project, which may include an interest in history, urban infrastructure, and/or Seattle’s waterways.
  • Strength, creativity, and appropriateness of letter of interest
  • Evidence of artistic diversity

Selection Process
The selection process will take place in two parts. During the first round, a panel of music professionals, SDOT representatives and community members will review the applicants’ work samples, qualifications and other materials. The panelists will identify up to four finalists to interview at a second panel meeting approximately one month later. The panel will select one composer/musician to be awarded the residency commission.

Click HERE for more information about this opportunity.

Please email Kristen Ramirez at or call 206.615.1095 with any questions about this project.

More information about the bridge can be found at:
Seattle Department of Transportation

SDOT Art Plan 2005

Elissa Washuta, Writer in Residence, 2016

Kristen Ramirez, Artist in Residence, 2009

Seattle Municipal Archives Collection

History Link

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