Broad Avenue Water Tower Pavilion

Binghampton Development Corporation/Historic Broad Avenue Art Alliance

Funding Received: 2013
Memphis, TN
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
December 23, 2013

Water Tower Depot from the corner of Broad and Bingham

The Water Tower Public Art portion of our Artplace project was a primary point of focus this past month. In partnership with the UrbanArt Commission (UAC), we invited artists/teams to apply for the “Broad Avenue Water Tower Public Art Project,” which will lead to transforming the water tower into a work of public art. When completed, the transformed water tower will serve as an iconic beacon and district gateway—a symbol and gathering place for the community to come and enjoy Broad Avenue as a place dedicated to the arts: enjoying arts and culture in all forms, as well as shopping, creating, learning and experiencing the place.

The UAC conducted a national search for artists via the release of an Request for Qualifications (RFQ). More than sixty artists applied. Our artist selection committee chose five finalists to move forward with the selection process. The five artists were chosen based on previous experience with the design and production of exterior public art installations. The water tower concept could include lighting or other innovative 2D or 3D concepts beyond a mural design. The finished project must require little to no regular maintenance. The selected artist/team will be expected to engage the community and collaborate closely with the project team, as well as other partners as appropriate for the successful installation of this creative placemaking project. Learn more about the five finalist:
Eric Henn

Cecilia Lueza

Zhao Suikang

Robert Barnum

Osman Akan

The artists have until March to work on design concepts for the Water Tower. These will be reviewed and shared with other stakeholders to winnow the finalists to three. These finalists will come to Memphis to present their work to community members and residents at a MEMFeast community dinner. FEAST (Funding Emerging Artists with Sustainable Tactics) is an annual public dinner designed to use community-driven financial support to democratically fund emerging art makers. MemFeast is Memphis’s local version founded and facilitated by Crosstown Arts, helping to rethink how the arts are financed and experienced communally.

Recent Wins
Broad Avenue Arts District, Binghampton Development Corporation, and Livable Memphis was part of the now successful Hampline public fundraising campaign. In just six short weeks, more than $75,000 was raised via public crowd sourcing utilizing the platform. These funds closed the gap and ensure that this project to build a protected bike lane that will connect two urban parks in Memphis is completed in 2014. This bike lane will go through Binghampton and along Broad Avenue (and the Water Tower Depot) and feature public art, innovative infrastructure, and placemaking.

Also a local restaurateur started some buzz around Broad Avenue this month with talks of opening a bowling alley in a vacant warehouse on Broad. While no plans are confirmed the story went viral on social media and had Memphians talking about Broad and all of the other awesome activities happening on the avenue.

We are nothing without our partnerships. Broad Avenue is incredibly fortunate to have strong, diverse, and creative partners. These partners range from local developers to non-profits to local government and are as committed as we are to creative placemaking and creating a better Memphis. As Broad Avenue moves forward with plans for more public art, bike lanes, programming and a performing arts space these partnerships are key in ensuring all that Broad has to offer aligns with the neighborhood and its residents.

In a recent Memphis Flyer article reporter, Bianca Phillips, touched on how our partnerships fit together. "For years, Binghampton, bordered by Poplar, East Parkway, Summer, and Holmes, has suffered from blight, crime, poverty, and a perception problem. But thanks in part to the success of the neighborhood's Broad Avenue Arts District, plans for the Hampline (a two-way bicycle lane through the neighborhood connecting with the Shelby Farms Greenline's entrance on Tillman), and the work of the Mayor's Innovation Delivery Team and Community L.I.F.T. (a neighborhood revitalization program that connects projects with funding sources), the area has been getting more positive attention from outsiders. Meanwhile, groups within the neighborhood — the Binghampton Development Corporation (BDC), the Lester Community Center, Caritas Village, the Refugee Empowerment Program, etc. — have been working hard for years to clean up the blight, provide positive outlets for the residents, and take back the neighborhood without gentrifying or sacrificing its character."

Broad Avenue can serve Binghampton as a place for community and the arts but not without support of community members, neighborhood organizations and strong partnerships.