Request for Qualifications: Vel R. Phillips Plaza Artist Commission- Milwaukee, WI

  • Commissioning Entity

    City of Milwaukee

  • Application Open Date


  • Application Deadline Date


  • Minimum Budget


  • Maximum Budget


  • Location of Commission

    Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States

  • Geographic Eligibilty


  • Contact Name

    Scott Stange

  • Contact Email

    [email protected]

  • Contact Phone

  • Commission Document

    View Link Document

  • Brief Description

    The City of Milwaukee is transforming a surface parking lot into an activated social space to be named after Vel R. Phillips, one of the country’s leading Black woman jurists, politicians and civil rights leaders who was born and raised in Milwaukee.

    Unique for the Plaza will be an original art work that honors Vel R. Phillips. The final art work will be a creative expression of her work breaking many social and cultural barriers for women, and for women of color, in Wisconsin as well as the United States. Elsewhere on the Plaza will be informational kiosks that provide information on Vel R. Phillips and her vital contributions to our community and our nation and providing context for and information on the final commissioned art work.

    The goals for the City-commissioned public art installation include

    • Serving as a permanent placement of significant aesthetic value in honoring Vel R. Phillips’ life and legacy;
    • Engaging downtown workers, residents and visitors for a meaningful cultural experience;
    • Providing a focal point of attention in what will become a newly-bustling, multi-use space that will be visible to nearby areas;
    • Being constructed using durable materials that can withstand weather and human interaction; and
    • Representing an engaged artistic practice that reflects the historic nature of Vel R. Phillips’ life and legacy.

    The selected artist will be chosen by a committee comprised of City of Milwaukee leaders, non-profit representatives, local artists, and community members. The all-inclusive budget for the City-commissioned public art installation is $600,000. The anticipated installation of the final art work will be within the first half of 2025.

    Informational kiosks will also be constructed at the Plaza that will provide education information about Vel R. Phillips and her vital contributions to the city, state, and nation, in contextualizing the final City-commissioned public art installation. These kiosks will feature an annual exhibition of art works by local artists with themes linked to the work of Vel R. Phillips.

    Vel R. Phillips was both the first African American and first woman elected to the Milwaukee Common Council, the first female judge in Milwaukee County and the first black judge in the State of Wisconsin. She was the first woman to hold the office of Secretary of State in Wisconsin and the first African American to win a statewide election. Up until her passing in April of 2018, Phillips was an active leader in pushing for social justice, education and equal opportunities for minorities in Milwaukee.

    For full project information and submission instructions, please see the commission document for this RFQ

    Phillips in 1953