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E.T. Memorial Sculpture

Request for Qualifications



Deadline: December 18, 2016
Budget: $130,000 all inclusive


Call to Artists

Download the complete Call to Artists (PDF).

Call Summary

Metro Parks Tacoma is seeking an artist to create a life-size bronze memorial sculpture of E.T., a beloved Pacific walrus at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium (PDZA) in Tacoma. The sculpture of E.T. will be hand-sculpted and cast in bronze however; the foundation on which he will be installed should be designed and fabricated from other materials that best represent the environment that housed him for years at PDZA. In support of fundraising efforts, a limited edition of small sculptures representing the proposed sculpture will be created.



Applicant(s) must live in Washington or Oregon.
Applicant(s) can apply as a single artist or as an artist team.
Applicant(s) cannot be an employee, board member, or council member of Metro Parks Tacoma.
Applicant(s) must be 18 years or older and not a full-time student.


E.T. the walrus arrived at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium as an orphan in 1982 and lived at the zoo for over three decades before his passing in July 2015. He inspired zoo visitors and the community to care about walruses and other Arctic mammals and the perils they face due to climate change. 

E.T. was a well-loved member of the Metro Parks family and South Sound community who delighted and inspired visitors for more than three decades. Staff and visitors have grown up with him, brought their friends and family to meet him, and connected with him at a deeply personal and emotional level. And, more importantly, even after his passing, he remains a constant inspiration for the Zoo’s critical conservation work on behalf of the world’s wildlife.   

Walruses play a vital role in engaging Zoo visitors in conservation action, fostering caring attitudes toward wildlife, and demonstrating the commitment to caring for animals at the Zoo and in the wild. The E.T. sculpture will provide an additional hands-on engagement opportunity for children and adults before they enter the zoo and highlight the zoo’s longstanding leadership in global walrus conservation. 


Metro Parks and the Zoo Society seek to honor E.T.’s memory through this commission and create a signature piece for visitors to enjoy for years to come.


Art Opportunity/Consideration

Metro Parks Tacoma is seeking an artist to design, sculpt, fabricate and install a life-size bronze sculpture of E.T., a beloved Pacific walrus at PDZA in Tacoma.

The sculpture will be a realistic representation of E.T. that will be installed upon a base/foundation “environment” designed to relate to the sculpture. The foundation is not expected to be created from bronze. The selected artist will be asked to work within an approximately ten-foot by ten-foot footprint, including the base/foundation “environment”. The artwork does not need to fill the entire space, but should hold the space. Possible approaches based on available photographs may include a life-size, half-body sculpture, displaying E.T. either emerging from water or clambering onto rocks and displaying his signature “wave.” 


The sculpture will be located at the entrance of the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium and will welcome the more than 700,000 guests who visit annually. Children and adults should be able to interact with the sculpture. In addition, the artist will design opportunities for donor recognition within the base of the sculpture.


Proposed artwork must:

Be site responsive and appropriate for the entrance of the PDZA.
Be cast from bronze in addition to durable and appropriate materials proposed for base.
Convey the look and spirit of E.T.
Be designed to include an exhibit quality foundation/environment
Include sensitively designed and fabricated donor recognition.

In addition, a successful artwork should:
Complement the vision/goals of the PDZA and the Zoo Society.
Contribute to creating an icon for the entrance of the PDZA
Encourage hands-on interaction for all visitors before they enter the zoo
Serve as a global ambassador for walrus conservation and climate change 

Selection Criteria

Artistic quality as exemplified in past work
Exceptional ability to sculpt realistically and representationally 
Ability to think and work in a scale and with materials appropriate to the site including creating the sculpture plus its environment.
Ability to relate to multiple types of viewers, particularly children.


December 18, 2016 11:59 PM Deadline for submissions 
Week of January 9, 2017 Review of submissions and selection of finalists
Week of January 23, 2017  Interviews with finalists and selection of artist/artist team 
August 2017  Completion of public artwork 


Submission Process

Eligible artists and artist teams interested in this opportunity must submit the following three items via Submittable: https://tacomaarts.submittable.com/submit

1. Short Responses 
Responses to the following questions in 250 words or less each: 
Why are you interested in this project? 
What is your approach and process for creating a sculpture? 
What is your experience and approach to creating an environment that complements and supports a bronze sculpture?
Do you cast your own work or use a foundry?

2. Work Samples with Descriptions 
Ten digital images of past work with concise descriptions. If available, work samples should include documentation of similar past public projects. Artist teams are encouraged to submit work that was previously completed as a team. 

3. Resume and References
Three pages or less, including three professional references. Artist teams should submit a resume for each artist. 



If you have trouble submitting or would prefer to submit via email or hardcopy, contact Rebecca Solverson at rebecca.solverson@cityoftacoma.org or (253) 591-5564.


Metro Parks Tacoma

Metro Parks Tacoma has its roots in the City of Tacoma Charter of 1880. The city set up a committee of city council members in 1883 to oversee the city's parks. That committee became the Board of Park Commissioners in 1890, with members appointed by the mayor.

Tacoma was ready for action when the Washington State Legislature passed a law in 1907 allowing cities to form separate park districts. Less than a month after the governor signed the bill, residents voted to establish the Metropolitan Park District of Tacoma as a separate municipal corporation with the ability to collect property taxes for support. Metro Parks Tacoma was incorporated April 6, 1907, with a five-member elected Board of Park Commissioners. After more than 100 years, Metro Parks Tacoma continues to maintain and care for Tacoma's park resources with a combination of earned revenue and tax support.

Metro Parks Tacoma believes that good parks, open space and program services contribute to economic development by fostering economic benefits and promoting tourism. Environmentally, they provide green infrastructure and help manage climate change. Socially, they revitalize communities, create safer neighborhoods, help children learn and grow, improve public and environmental health, and support smart growth. Culturally, open space and program services can nurture a sense of place in the community, and provide opportunities to engage the public of diverse backgrounds.

Mission: Creating healthy opportunities to play learn and grow.
Vision: Metro Parks Tacoma envisions a vibrant, active and engaged community.

The Zoo Society

The Point Defiance Zoological Society was founded in 1951, and is an independent 501(c)(3) organization that serves as the fundraising arm for PDZA. The mission of The Zoo Society is to provide and promote financial, volunteer and community support to the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. The Zoo Society supports PDZA in their efforts to promote responsible stewardship of earth’s limited resources through education, conservation, research, preservation and recreational opportunities. The Zoo Society supports PDZA in their mission to promote and practice effective conservation on behalf of the world’s wildlife.


2017-18 Tacoma Artists Initiative Program (TAIP) Funding

Online Application DeadlineJanuary 23, 2017, 11:59 PM

Award Amounts: $2,500 each


The City of Tacoma is now accepting Tacoma Artists Initiative Program (TAIP) funding applications from eligible Tacoma artists who wish to create new artwork in any discipline and present that work through a free public component. 


TAIP Guidelines and Application Instructions

Download the full TAIP guidelines and application instructions


About TAIP Funding

The TAIP was established in 1999 to encourage the contributions made by individual artists within the City of Tacoma. The goal of the program is to recognize high quality talent of the artists in our community and assist them in generating new work and presenting that work to the community through a free public component.

Artists working in all disciplines including literary, performing, new media, and visual arts are encouraged to apply. Cross-disciplinary approaches are also encouraged. Only one application per artist will be accepted.


The Tacoma Arts Commission has allocated $40,000 for TAIP funding, and each selected artist will be awarded $2,500. Funding for TAIP is determined through a competitive application process. A panel comprised of Tacoma Arts Commission members, community members and past TAIP awardees will review applications and make funding recommendations. Those recommendations will go to the Tacoma Arts Commission for approval. All projects selected for TAIP funding must be completed by December 31, 2018.


To be eligible for TAIP funding, applicant must:

  • Be a resident of the City of Tacoma
  • Be a practicing artist, dedicated to producing artwork on a regular basis
  • Be 18 years old or older
  • NOT have received a TAIP award in the past two cycles (2013-2016)
  • NOT be a member of the TAIP selection panel
  • NOT be a full time undergraduate or graduate student in an arts-related degree program
  • NOT be a current Tacoma Arts Commission member, City Council member, or City of Tacoma employee

Application Workshop

Applicants are encouraged to attend a free workshop which explains and addresses questions about the application and funding process on December 15, 2016, from 5:30-7 PM, in the Tacoma Municipal Building North, 728 St. Helens Avenue, Room 16.


To Apply

Download the 2017-18 Tacoma Artists Initiative Program Guidelines and Application Instructions (PDF) for complete information on the funding program and how to apply.


Access the online application and apply now


Download the 2017-18 TAIP Project Budget Page only (PDF).



Contact Naomi Strom-Avila at (253) 591-5191 or by email.

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Naomi Strom-Avila

(253) 591-5191