To enhance the cultural vibrancy of communities through the development of public art. We celebrate diversity in everything we do.
UrbanArt is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that has worked to cultivate a dynamic, vibrant, and nurturing community through public art and design since 1997 in Memphis, Tennessee. UrbanArt partners with a variety of community stakeholders including neighborhood groups, private developers, and municipal authorities to produce art works of wide ranging media.
UrbanArt is funded in part by ArtsMemphis, the Tennessee Arts Commission, and donations from private citizens. Furthermore, UrbanArt acts as project manager for the ‘Percent for Art’ programs of the City of Memphis, as well as Shelby County Schools.
UrbanArt is an active member of Americans for the Arts, Tennesseans for the Arts, the Public Art Network, and the Greater Memphis Regional Chamber of Commerce. All donations to UrbanArt are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.
Since the UrbanArt’s 1997 founding, a substantial public art collection of close to 100 public artworks has been created, working closely with our partners and the City of Memphis to establish a solid foundation that we can build on for further growth. Program areas encompass the following:
• Public art facilitation services and partnerships with the public and private sector: The UrbanArt Commission manages the City of Memphis Percent-for-Art program, established in 2002. Download a copy of the City of Memphis public art guidelines.
UrbanArt’s public art consulting and design services are tailored to each project for a variety of client types, including commercial, residential, municipal, and community groups on a fee-for-service basis. Commissioned artists range from international to local in recognition. We are committed to design excellence and best practices in the field of public art.
• Public Art Community Outreach Program: develops low-cost, high-impact works completed entirely with the help of volunteers deployed to neglected sites throughout Memphis. In FY13, over 100 volunteers of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities completed six murals. Art students who learn to manage public art projects under the tutelage of UAC’s mural manager contributed to these mural projects. Recently completed projects include the DoubleTree Elementary mural (students assisted); and Green Leaf Learning Farm, a 2/3 acre, USDA-certified organic farm in the heart of an underserved Memphis community, and the Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association Paint Day (local 3rd and 4th graders assisted). UrbanArt also installs the “I Love Memphis” mural series in partnership with the Downtown Memphis Commission, through a competition for local artists. The Public Art Community Outreach Program is supported in part by an ArtsMemphis Mosaic Grant.
• Community engagement: UrbanArt is committed to bringing together people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities in the creation and presentation of public art. Committee meetings, community presentations and workshops are scheduled in conjunction with individual public art projects. Further, UrbanArt hosts programs led by recognized experts. Past programs developed public art production skills, cultivated professional practices for artists pursuing public art careers, and informed citizens in the lessons of arts advocacy.
• Services for artists and professional development opportunities include:
- Public art training programs for studio artists
- Weekly listserv of public art opportunities
- Internships related to the field of public art
- Online Artist Portfolios in the Artist Section of this website.
Members of the UrbanArt team are available to make presentations to community groups on topics including: public art and urban design, anti-blight solutions, public art history and processes, arts advocacy, and community-led art and design projects for the public realm. Please contact Lauren Kennedy at lkennedy [at] urbanartcommission [dot] org to request an UrbanArt presentation at your institution or gathering or for information on upcoming workshops.