Washoe County Art Trail: Call for Artists/Proposals

WHO: Burning Man Project and Washoe County
DEADLINE: Monday, December 18, 2017
BUDGET: $60,000 – $100,000



Burning Man Project and Washoe County are pleased to announce an opportunity for artists to create an artwork that is representative of the emblematic iconography of Washoe County Nevada that will serve as two trailhead installations for a 200-mile trail of art, culture and place memory. Engendered and imagined as a story trail that encompasses the geography that spans between the trail’s two points of initiation of Crystal Peak Park and the town of Gerlach, the two installations will be derived from the symbols and stories of meaning shared in community story circles in early 2018.

The call is open to artists, artist teams, community groups working with designers, architects, landscape architects, or place-keeping experts who are interested in creating an exterior public art installation expressing the community’s relationship to place and stories of local culture. As we examine the relationship of people to place, of urban to rural, of geography to history, we invite proposals that will creatively contribute to the conversation, animating the concepts of people and their connection to place, while responding to the ideas and stories generated by local residents.

Burning Man Project and Washoe County, Nevada, through support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the County’s Community Special Projects program, will commission a public art installation that actively seeks to advance the general public’s understanding of the place where they live, the sense of connection to story, and a common bond across communities that spread from Verdi to Gerlach along the Truckee River. While one artwork is to be created, it will be fabricated as either two identical pieces or as two pieces that speak to one another in ways that are coherent and relate to their locations (one for each location).

The trail is deliberately located close to the Nevada/California border, along the river with an inception point at one end of Crystal Peak Park where it’s possible to enjoy the natural beauty and bike in the direction of Reno and beyond. This inception point reaches completion in the small town of Gerlach after winding its way through the cities of Reno and Sparks, other small towns along the way, and the Pyramid Lake tribal lands. Public art and design are essential components to conversations about people, place, story, and meaning and Washoe County and Burning Man Project expect that this art and story trail will serve to bring a concerted dialogue to the many communities along the trail about the quality of living together, making home, and caring for the places where we reside.


Washoe County has a population of over 440,000. Communities in the county include the City of Reno, population 241,445, City of Sparks population 90,264, and the most remote community Gerlach 100 miles north with a population of 206. Tribal governments are the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe and Reno-Sparks Indian Colony.

The trail project germinated from community and partner meetings of the One Truckee River (OTR) planning process; cooperative projects between the County, City of Reno and Burning Man to bring Art to our public places; and in combination with County’s efforts to address the needs of rural residents. Synergy of the vision and efforts prompted the County to seek this initial phase of development for the Trail.

The Re-Imagine Reno 2016 gathering of public input report shows clear consensus around a desire for outdoor activities and arts and culture. The 2016 OTR Management Plan identifies: improving aesthetics along the river, identifying locations for potential placement of public art/murals on the river; creating partnerships to promote river beautification; and developing opportunities for community to share river stories/images relative to our natural and cultural history, as action items. The Trail fits into our community’s civic vision and complements the OTR plan. Furthermore, Gerlach’s Community Assessment 2011 identifies the need for recreational and tourist activities. The Trail promotes existing sites, interactive experiences, is free, accessible and adaptable to future public art.


The selected installation for this project will reflect a conscientious understanding of the community we serve. The art installation should be conceptual, forward thinking, and reflect ideas expressly related to stories of place and iconography that is intimately associated with the geography of Washoe County. Additionally, the project can explore a range of artistic expression, from low-tech installations to contemporary uses of technology, including interactivity, as well as potentially incorporating the use of real-time and other data from the Truckee River or other data inputs related to the population and topography of Nevada. The organization will not limit the work to any specific material or medium and is open to a wide range of artistic styles. While the art installation itself is not limited to any particular media, the installation should have a sense of prominence and permanence in the space as defined by a 10-year minimum lifespan, though the proposed project can include event-based or more ephemeral or temporary components to the installations as a part of the conceptual activation for the work (note: this sort of activation is not required and will not serve to make a proposal more competitive).

When contemplating the installation(s) submission the artist should consider how to propose thoughts and ideas that can be responsive to story collection circles that will take place during the early phases of the project once the artist is selected. While ideas and proposals that include concepts that can be ultimately realized are welcome – thoughtful consideration about how community stories and ideas of place can be integrated or utilized as a point of departure for how the artwork is developed, designed, and executed is an important factor in final selection.

More explicitly – final designs for the project will be reviewed as a part of the project and proposal submissions should rely heavily on an established history of work created that is site specific and responsive to community input. In short while we want to review your project concepts and design ideas – these ideas should not be so fixed that they cannot evolve as a consequence of the process of story collection that will occur in the first phases of the project (just before and just after artist selection).

Additionally, it is important to note that the artwork/installation will be complemented by augmented reality/mobile interfaces that use the installation(s) iconography as the basis for an interactive story sharing and photo collection, fact-finding, and trail-blazing experience for residents and visitors. In this way, while the trail’s inception points are commemorated by the artist installations, there will be additional activation through signage that references the artwork in multiple locations where story collection and place memory can be ongoing, interactive, and reflective of the communities extended narrative of history, art, and culture.


The Artwork/installation should be designed for a location on available land at Crystal Peak Park; please review the location maps for specific details about this location. A second artwork site will be situated in Gerlach and is under consideration with community input.

Important Considerations

  • Artwork shall directly attach to existing structures on the site (although some creation of a platform for the artwork may be provided by the County). All artwork should be designed to install on a flat surface and be able to be anchored into the ground or adhered directly to asphalt.
  • Concepts that integrate seamlessly into the surrounding environment and infrastructure are encouraged.

Applicants should consider potential obstacles during the process, such as logistics, public or private approvals, manufacturing, and testing and express these issues within the proposal. The selected applicant(s) should be prepared to engage with the Washoe County, Burning Man Project’s Civic Arts Team, the One Truckee River coalition, and community stakeholders during the entirety of the process.


Please note, this timeline was revised on February 6, 2018:

  • October 17, 2017:  SUBMISSIONS OPEN. Burning Man Project available to respond to questions during submission period.
  • December 18, 2017: SUBMISSIONS CLOSE. 11:59pm PST.
  • February 25, 2018: Semi-finalists notified.
  • Late March 2018: Semifinalist Presentation (s). Artists to submit a graphic presentation and mockup, interviews conducted (via Skype or in-person).
  • Early April 2018: Selected Artist Announced.


Burning Man Project will review submitted proposals to identify projects that fulfill the mission of the art installation and trail. The proposals that fit the project intent and stated criteria will be shared with a small group of community stakeholders, artists, and civic leaders in Washoe County to select three (3) artists or teams as Semifinalists. The selection process will consist of two separate stages.

  1. Full applications can be submitted here. This is a partnership between Washoe County and Burning Man Project. All inquiries should be directed to civicarts@burningman.org.
  2. Once submissions are received, the Selection Committee will narrow the field to the three (3) Semifinalists, who will be notified on or before February 1, 2018.
  3. After the Semifinalists are selected, artists will be given $250 dollars to prepare a digital presentation of the proposed project**. Semifinalists will submit a final proposal with no more than ten (10) slides. Additionally, visual support material is appreciated (e.g. 3D models).
  4. Semifinalists will be interviewed in Reno, in person where possible, or by Skype (some accommodation for an in-person interview in San Francisco may be possible).
  5. Chosen finalist will be announced in March 2018.
  6. Throughout the winter and spring of 2018 community story circles will take place. These story circles will be graphically notated and documented as material for the artist to derive final design concepts from.
  7. Design concepts for final project to be presented to Burning Man Project and Washoe County for review and approval in the summer of 2018.
  8. Artist wood-shedding in the Fall and Winter of 2019 including test models, reviewing site specifications and design refinement.
  9. Art fabrication to take place in the Spring of 2019 with installation by June 2019.

Burning Man Project retains the right to reject any and all submissions. All proposal materials shall become the property of Burning Man Project, while all copyrights created during the process belong to the artist.

**Artists are not reimbursed for the initial cost of proposal production, only for Semifinalist proposals**


Applicants will be selected based upon the following criteria:

  • Demonstrated history of creating work that is reflective of ideas generated through community dialogue and site specific related to the surrounding geography.
  • Proposal should be conceptual, forward thinking, and reflect ideas expressly related to the geography and symbols of Nevada, while also taking into account the context of the art.
  • Evidence of previous Works of the highest caliber and effective execution.
  • Ability to complete work within a specified timeframe and budget.
  • Visual impact on pedestrian and vehicular traffic.
  • Presentation of an artistic vision that acknowledges and embodies the current climate in contemporary public art that embraces a broader social consciousness.
  • Presentation of an artistic vision that displays an awareness of/sensitivity to community residents, businesses.
  • Appropriateness of content (should be appropriate for all audiences).


To qualify, artists must:

  • Be 18 years of age or older and live in the United States.
  • Work as a professional artist or artist team (including designers, architects, and engineers).
  • Architects, community groups, and other non-professional artists are required to submit with a professional artist who meets all eligibility requirements.
  • Carry personal liability insurance for the duration of the project.
  • Meet all contractual obligations and adhere to the timeline provided.
  • If selected as a semi-finalist be prepared to present the initial concept to a selection committee.


All artists are to submit proposals and attachments through a digital submission application here. This is a partnership between Washoe County and Burning Man Project. All inquiries should be directed to civicarts@burningman.org.

All submissions must be logged by 11:59pm (PST) on December 18, 2017. Digital proposals should be on 8.5 x 11 paper layout.


  • Proposal Statement: Describe your concept of the artwork to be created. Make certain to use the published criteria. Maximum 750 words.
  • Proposal Concept: Show your conceptual idea graphically. Concept images should include, but not be limited to, 2-3 angles of the artwork, 1-2 images of the artwork in the context of the site, and a location plan (using Crystal Peak Park as the point of reference). Each proposal should include a design concept that can be generated for $60,000 and one that could be executed for $100,000. The total budget for the project is still under review and thus we are requesting two tiers of artwork concepts for this initial submission.
  • Budget: Describe the proposed project costs, including preliminary hard costs (construction and material costs) and artist fee.
  • Resume/CV: For artist or primary team members.
  • Work Samples: Two – three projects that demonstrate experience with the type of public art creation and installation as outlined in this call.


The budget for this installation project is $60,000 – $100,000 (all submissions should include two conceptual ideas/designs one at $60,000 and one at $100,000 final budget for this project is under review). Artists/designers/architects or teams will be required to submit a detailed budget including the cost of labor, materials and logistics. This is for the creation, execution, and installation of two complete artworks for each ends of the complete trail (Crystal Peak Park and a location in Gerlach). In some instances installation assistance may be provided by the County (please articulate any specific requests you may have for equipment or installation support outside of the stated budget parameters).


Any inquiries and questions can be submitted to Burning Man Project at civicarts@burningman.org.

About Burning Man Project

Burning Man Project, a nonprofit organization, produces the annual Burning Man event in Black Rock City, and works year-round to extend and facilitate the culture that has grown from the event into the larger world. Burning Man Project provides inspiration, connection, education, and grants to a creative ecosystem of builders, makers, artists, and community leaders. Its work spans six interconnected program areas: Art, Education, Civic Involvement, Culture, Philosophical Center, and Social Enterprise. An ever-growing global network supports and furthers these efforts in 44 U.S. states and 37 countries around the world. Visit www.burningman.org.

About Washoe County

Washoe County is located along the eastern slopes of the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountains in northwestern Nevada. The county covers an area of 6,600 square miles bordering California and Oregon. The county seat is the City of Reno, the third largest city in Nevada. Reno boasts a bustling downtown, diverse neighborhoods, Nevada’s flagship state university, and a top-ranked international airport. Nearby are the City of Sparks, the state’s fifth largest city, and Incline Village at Lake Tahoe. The county’s approximately 440,000 population is split with nearly half residing in the incorporated City of Reno, one quarter in Sparks and one quarter in the unincorporated areas. Residents and visitors enjoy the pleasant climate, abundant recreational activities, arts, entertainment, professional sports and cultural events.

Working together regionally to provide and sustain a safe, secure and healthy community is the mission of Washoe County. The Washoe art trail initiative exemplifies the county’s efforts to achieve this mission. Strategic direction from the County Commission declares that Washoe County will be a social, economic and policy leadership force in Nevada and the Western United States. We will accomplish this by being forward thinking, financially stable, evaluating the quality of life so our community is a great place for everyone to live, regardless of means; accessible to everyone we serve and representing the people; using the power of collaboration internally and externally.” Washoe County works closely with our cities, Tribes, nonprofits, businesses, and citizens to facilitate improvements in the quality of life in Washoe County.

Additionally through our Regional Parks and Open Space we provide exceptional parks, open space and recreational opportunities while preserving our natural, historical and cultural resources. Washoe County manages over 12,000 acres including over 10,000 acres of open space, 49 parks, an Arboretum, a historic ranch, a 1863 mansion, two historic schoolhouses, developed trails, trailheads, athletic fields, golf courses, a campground, a shooting facility, an archery facility, a museum, amphitheater and so much more. We strive to serve the public regionally with quality outdoor facilities and spaces to sustain a safe, secure and healthy community.