The City of Houston Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs is starting the process of selecting an artist to create the city’s first permanent outdoor artwork commemorating the life and legacy of the late Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, Mayor Sylvester Turner announced today.
The site selected for the artwork is the historic African American Library at the Gregory School, a Special Collections archive of The Houston Public Library, at 1300 Victor St, Houston, TX 77019 in Freedmen’s Town.
“It’s well past time we memorialize our hero Barbara Jordan with inspiring public art, especially since the city’s art collection contains only one outdoor sculpture or monument honoring a woman,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said.
“Peggy,” a statue by John Gutzon Borglum, honors Elizabeth Stevens MacGregor in MacGregor Park.
Artists residing in the United States are invited to submit qualifications for the opportunity to design, fabricate and install a tribute to the pioneering educator, civic leader and venerated Houston native.
The project has a total budget of up to $235,000. The deadline for submission of qualifications is Monday, Sept. 23, 11:59 p.m. CST. For details, go to www.houstontx.gov/culturalaffairs/barbarajordan.html.
A panel of arts professionals, stakeholders and community representatives will review qualified submissions and select a short list of artists to receive stipends to create and present detailed concept designs for final selection.
The final commission will be provided through two contracts with Houston Arts Alliance, one for design and one for construction. The selected artist must be able and willing to sign a contract with Houston Arts Alliance for the commission.
The artwork is funded by the City of Houston Civic Art Program. In 1999, the City of Houston established an ordinance mandating that 1.75% of qualified Capital Improvement Project dollars be set aside for civic art.
Born in 1936, Barbara Jordan attended Texas Southern University, where she graduated magna cum laude, and received a law degree from Boston University. After teaching at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, she opened a law practice in Houston and became active in politics. In 1966 she won election to the Texas Senate, become the state’s first African-American senator since 1883. In 1972 Jordan was elected to the United States House of Representatives from the Eighteenth Texas District in Houston. She was the first African American woman from the South to serve in Congress.
In 1996 she was the first woman and the first African American to deliver the keynote address at a Democratic national convention. Jordan retired from politics in 1979 and resumed teaching. She once again delivered the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in 1992 and she served as chairwoman of the United States Commission on Immigration Reform in 1994. Barbra Jordan died Jan. 17, 1996.