A concept for the Tobin Montessori and Vassal Lane Upper Schools Project is marked up with architects’ notes in a July presentation.

If a commission of $15,000 for a vent in Kendall Square seemed like a good get for an artist in the age of coronavirus, the City of Cambridge is offering $650,000 for public art at the future Tobin Montessori and Vassal Lane Upper Schools complex. The city wants artists “with public art experience” to come forward with pitches for “site-responsive outdoor public artwork.”

Ideally, the city says, that’ll reflect the themes of climate change and sustainability; trees; water; early childhood and play; community wellness; natural materials that relate to the site’s former role in the brick making industry, its proximity to Fresh Pond; and the Montessori educational philosophy.

The deadline is Nov. 9, with applicants from a broad range of artistic backgrounds as well as artist-led interdisciplinary teams invited to pitch their qualifications. The images and biographical information will help a jury select four finalists, who will be awarded an initial $3,000 to work with city staff and community members toward submitting final proposals, according to a Friday email from Cambridge Arts.

The ultimate winner will be chosen by a “committee of stakeholders based on community feedback, proposal presentations and interviews,” Cambridge Arts says.

And the $650,000 isn’t what the artist takes home: It covers all costs from design through final implementation and installation, including travel, community engagement, fabrication, insurance, engineering and other consultants, transportation, installation and coordination with city staff, the email said.

The overall budget of the West Cambridge school project is $250 million.

Information is here.


This post was updated Oct. 19, 2020, to stress that the Nov. 9 deadline is for artists to present their qualifications only, not a concept for the public art.

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