Public Art Program

In April 2000, the City Council established the Portland Public Art Program to preserve, restore and enhance the city’s public art collection. The Portland Public Art Program commissions art that engages with the surrounding environment to create, enrich, or reveal a sense of place, and to express the spirit, values, visions and poetry of place that collectively define Portland.

Public Art Collection


The public art collection currently contains 56 works of art that are permanently installed throughout Portland. Several new works were added in 2004 and again in 2013 through 2015 with several gifts. The collection contains works of historical significance that date from the nineteenth century, as well as contemporary pieces that reflect the diversity and spirit of the city.

The Portland Public Art Committee administers the Portland Public Art Program. The responsibilities of the Art Committee are outlined in Article XI of the City Code (Public Art Program). The Art Committee utilizes the Guidelines for the Public Art Ordinance (Volume 1, Number 1 – adopted May 2001) for direction in administering their responsibilities.

Percent-for-Art


A key element of the Portland Public Art Program was the establishment of a percent-for-art ordinance. Under that ordinance, the city allocates ½ of 1% of the city’s annual Capital Improvement Project (CIP) budget for the restoration or acquisition of permanent public art.

Information about the Portland Public Art Program can be obtained from Department of Planning and Development, City of Portland, 389 Congress Street, Portland, Maine 04101, by phone at 207-874-8430, by email, or by visiting the Public Art Committee website.


TEMPORARY ART


Information and application materials for temporary art can be found by going to this page.

Information for Artists

The public art program provides several opportunities for artists to engage.  Get more information below:

RECENT NEWS

BRAMHALL SQUARE PUBLIC ART

On Bramhall Plan ViewWednesday, December 15, 2021, the Portland Public Art Committee voted to select local artist Chris Miller to create a new public art commission in response to an open call for artists to submit qualifications for a new public artwork commission for the redesigned Bramhall Square park.  A five-member selection committee unanimously recommended Maine artist Chris Miller to the full PPAC. His proposal - titled "Keeper of the Picnic," is composed of a large reclining bear containing five individual concrete pieces - head, two front paws, and two back paws - and is set within the proposed landscaped areas.  

Bramhall Square is a small, triangle-shaped, and sloping urban space located at the intersections of Congress Street, Deering Avenue, and Cumberland Avenue in the Parkside neighborhood.  A robust public process for the redesign of Bramhall Square has been underway for several years beginning with a neighborhood charrette in 2015 culminating with a competition in 2017.  In 2019, Mitchell & Associates was selected as the landscape architecture firm to complete the designs to rehabilitate the park.  In 2021 the Portland Public Art Committee released an open call for artists to submit qualifications for a new public artwork commission for the redesigned Bramhall Square Park.  The RFQ received 19 total submissions.  Miller's submission was selected from a pool of four finalists that included work from Fitzhugh Karol of Brooklyn, New York; Leah Woods of Dover, New Hampshire; and Thomas Berger of Kittery, Maine. 

The Public Art Committee has allocated $25,000 from its dedicated public art fund for the project with the potential for additional funds. 

Bramhall Square Redesign - approved park concept

2017 Bramhall Square Community Design Competition - 10 entries (for reference only)

Bramhall 3

CONGRESS SQUARE PUBLIC ART 

Shattered Sphere (rendering)Artist, Sarah Sze completed design development of the new public artwork commission, Shattered Sphere, which will be created as part of the Congress Square Redesign project. The work includes a single iconic sculpture announcing the entrance into the park. The sphere includes a still image of the sky on the concave side and a reflective metal surface on the outer shell providing an interactive engagement with the concept of time and passing activity.

The project partners - City of Portland, Friends of Congress Square Park, and Portland Public Art Committee - held a public meeting on Saturday, November 6th to present the most recent designs for the park and public artwork.  A video recording of the public meeting is available here.

The project received funding to proceed with Phase I construction of the intersection in 2021. Also in 2021, Phase II and public artwork will go through the construction document phase to complete the design.  For more information, visit the project page: https://www.portlandmaine.gov/1113/Congress-Square-Redesign

Sarah Sze Sculpture

DEERING ROUNDABOUT PUBLIC ART (November 2021)

Passing the Torch proposal revisedThe artist Mark Pettegrow was selected in 2019 for the new public art commission for the Deering Roundabout project located in the Oakdale neighborhood. The first phase of the roundabout was completed in 2020.  Phase two construction and sculpture installation, which included lighting and landscape features was completed in fall 2021.

The artwork, titled "Passing the Torch," includes three bronze flame sculptures mounted on Maine granite boulders within the center of the roundabout. Additional granite pieces are located on the outer edge of the roundabout for seating within a new plaza space.

Passing the Torch