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Arts Commission

Art Works: Courthouse Collection Purchase

Metro Arts is seeking to expand its Percent for Public Art Collection by identifying Nashville-Davidson County artists from whom to purchase original artworks for its permanent collection. Artworks may include 2-dimensional artworks and 3-dimensional wall-hung artworks. Artworks may be portrait or landscape in orientation. They may be no larger than 60” (h) x 192” (l) with most artworks measuring 36” (h) x 48” (l) or smaller. Three-dimensional wall-hung artworks may protrude no more than 6” from the wall.

Artist Eligibility: This project is open to professional artists, as defined on page 3 of the Public Art Guidelines, who maintain a primary residence or studio in Davidson County. Galleries and artist's representatives are encouraged to submit materials on behalf of their artists.

Conflicts of Interest: Employees of the Metro Nashville Arts Commission or the Metro Nashville Government are ineligible to apply. Family and household members of Metro Arts employees are also ineligible. Members of the Metro Nashville Arts Commission or Public Art Committee are ineligible for public art commissions or projects.

Art WORKS Budget

Metro Arts will select up to 30 artists from whom we will purchase one work of art for up to 30 locations throughout the Ground Floor, First Floor, and Second Floor of the Historic Metro Courthouse. Typical values will range from $250 to $5,000 per artwork.

Site for Art WORKS

The Historic Metro Courthouse at 1 Public Square is the center of activity for the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County. It houses the Office of the Mayor, the Metro Council Chamber, the Metro Council Offices, the Metro Finance Department Offices, the Nashville Network, and the Metro Clerk’s Office on its lower floors. Upper floors house the Chancery Court and the Circuit Court.

All artworks for this acquisition will be located on the first three floors of the Courthouse in public areas. Successful artworks will stimulate, visually represent, and contribute to the character and texture of Nashville and Davidson County, Metro government, and the Historic Metro Courthouse environment. Artworks will be installed along the central hallway as well as in departmental offices.

Vision for Art Works: Courthouse Collection

Artists are encouraged to consider the following vision for this acquisition:

Artwork for the Art WORKS: Courthouse Collection should reflect one or more of the following:

  • spirit of community, cooperation, collaboration, and service
  • sense of justice, equality and equity
  • transformation and new beginnings in our city

In a broader sense, the collection may:

  • stimulate creative thinking and foster artistic development in the community.
  • serve as a tool for community development and/or social impact

Courthouse History

The present building, completed in 1937, is actually the fourth courthouse to be built on the site. Plans for the present building began in 1934 for what was then called the Davidson County Courthouse and Public Building. It was intended to accommodate Nashville’s city hall, the county courthouse, and jail all in a single building. An architectural competition was held in conjunction with the Public Works Administration (PWA) in 1935 to select the design. Emmons H. Woolwine of Nashville, working in association with New York’s Frederic C. Hirons, won the competition. Their design was an elegant classical adaptation of then fashionable Art Deco style. When completed, the courthouse included bronze sculptures on the massive bronze doors by Rene Chambellan, large carved glass windows by David Harriton, and lobby murals by Dean Cornwell. The new courthouse was the first building in Davidson County to have central air conditioning.

The area around the courthouse, the Public Square, has been an important gathering place since the first courthouse was built here in 1803. Historically, people have come to the Public Square to shop, meet people, conduct business, and celebrate events. However, for much of Nashville’s history, the Public Square was home to slave markets and a place where the horrors of slavery were on full display. Years after traces of these slave markets had been erased, the site would become a place of resistance and resilience. One of the most significant protests was held on April 19, 1960 when a student-led march of thousands prompted then-Mayor Ben West to disavow segregation of Nashville’s lunch counters. The city recently dedicated the public artwork Witness Walls by artist Walter Hood. Located on the west side of the courthouse, it is designed to honor the events and people who fought for racial equality here in Nashville.

Over the years, many of the buildings that once lined the Public Square have changed. In 2003, the Courthouse itself underwent a major renovation. The building’s exterior and lobby was restored to its original Art Deco grandeur, while the rest of the interior was reconstructed with technology, safety, accessibility, and security improvements to accommodate modern offices. At the same time, the former parking area was moved below ground to a five-level underground parking garage that can hold 1,200 cars. Above it is the Public Square Plaza featuring a central lawn, fountains, gardens, and the public artwork Citizen by artist Thomas Sayre.

Artist Submission Instructions

All Submissions must be submitted via and are due Thursday, November 9, 2017 by 11:59 p.m. Central Standard Time. In order to be considered, artists are required to submit the following materials:

  1. Letter of Interest. A brief (no more than one-page) artist statement, which should encompass why your work is appropriate for this Collection.
  2. Artwork Images: Six (6) digital images representative of your artwork are required*. (File types accepted: JPG, PNG, GIF, TIFF). *Artists will be selected based on their portfolio of works. Artists are required to include basic specifications of each image (title, media, dimensions, year and retail price). Specific artwork purchases will be conducted via studio visit after artist selection.
  3. Current Artist Résumé: not to exceed four single-sided pages or 2MB. Resume must demonstrate artistic practice as defined by the Public Art Guidelines.
  4. References: three artistic professional references (those who can speak to your artwork and your experience as an artist)

Full submission instructions are available at Please read through carefully before submitting. Incomplete submissions will not be reviewed. No submissions will be accepted after the deadline. Technical questions about the online submission process (i.e. image upload, Submittable account set-up, etc.) should be directed to

Selection Criteria

Artists will be selected based on the following criteria of their work:

  • Artistic quality
  • Aesthetic merit
  • Appropriateness of artworks for a public and workplace setting
  • Ability of work to add vibrancy and/or visual impact to a professional workplace
  • Artist’s work reflects project vision
  • Diversity of work and artists represented in the Metro Public Art Collection
  • Small-to-medium scale artworks that can be easily stored and moved as space needs change
  • Artwork that is in good physical condition and its projected future maintenance and conservations needs are not cost prohibitive

Selection Process

  1. Applications Due by 11:59 p.m. Central Standard Time on Thursday, November 9, 2017.
  2. Image and Application Review
    From the submissions received, a citizen selection panel made up of visual artists, arts and design professionals, community representatives and those representing the site (Metro Courthouse), will choose up to 30 artists.
  3. Review and Recommendation
    Those selected artists will be recommended to the Public Art Committee, who will make final artist recommendations to the Metro Arts Commission. Metro Arts will notify all artists regarding the Commission’s selection.
  4. Purchase
    Metro Arts staff will visit artists’ studios to select specific artworks for purchase. Artists must complete: Vendor Short Form: a Purchase, Limited Copyright & Warranties Agreement; and a Conservation Record. Artist will deliver unframed artworks to a secure location provided by Metro Arts.

Project Timeline

Note: The following timeline is a working guide for planning purposes and may be adjusted as necessary.

Project Timeline
Event Date
Issue Call to Artists September 11, 2017
Artist Submissions Due by 11:59 p.m. CST November 9, 2017
Selection Committee Review of Artists November 2017
Public Art Committee Review and Recommendation December 12, 2017
Arts Commission Review and Recommendation December 21, 2017
Artist Awards Late December 2017
Artwork Selection by Metro Arts January-February 2018
Artist Contracting Process March 2018
Artwork Framing, managed by Metro Arts April-May 2018
Artwork Installation May-June 2018


Direct all questions related to this Call to Artists to with Courthouse Collection Purchase in the subject line or call 615-862-6732. Questions will be taken through 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, November 2, 2017.

ADA Compliance and Accessibility

Questions, concerns, complaints, requests for accommodation, or requests for additional information regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act may be forwarded to Metro Arts’ ADA Compliance Coordinator: Laurel Fisher, Metro Nashville Arts Commission, 615-862-6720, TTY Relay Service 800-848-0298

Interpretation Services

Should an individual need language interpretation, Metro Arts will secure assistance using a Metro approved over-the-phone or in-person translation service.