Call to Artists

Blackshear Elementary

Friendly Garden Mural

Proposals Accepted November 5, 2018 – January 18, 2019

Click here to download printable pdf 2018-11-08 Call to Artists

Blackshear Bridge and our partners Blackshear Elementary Fine Arts Academy, Six Square: Austin’s Black Cultural District, Huston-Tillotson University’s Green is the New Black Student Group and HT’s Sandra Joy Anderson Center for Civic Engagement and Community Outreach, UT’s Longhorn Center for Community Engagement, Hispanic Austin Leadership, and collaborators the George Washington Carver Museum, Cultural and Genealogy Center request proposals for a mural to be produced on the walls of Blackshear Fine Arts Academy Kindergarten and Pre-K wing to the left of the front entrance to the school near the school’s Friendly Garden.

Artists are invited as we open Blackshear Elementary Little e.a.s.t., Stop 170 at 1712 E. 11th St. on the East Austin Studio Tour on November 10th from 10am-3pm to take a look at the proposed mural space and learn about our historic school.

DonPointingHISTORY  In 2016, the Blackshear PTA renamed the children’s garden after long-time, popular Principal, Friendly R. Rice, who first established a garden at the school in the 1930s. His daughter Vonnye Rice who lives in Cedar Park returned to Blackshear for the renaming ceremony on MLK Day.

This year we are calling on Austin-based muralists to commemorate and celebrate the legacy of Friendly R. Rice with a mural outside the entrance to the school garden. The mural will be located on the school’s brick Pre-K and Kindergarten wing facing the front entrance to the school, possibly wrapping the southwest corner of the wing.

The selected artist should be available to collaborate with student artists and teachers to illuminate the mural-making process and hopefully include students in painting a section of the mural (in the spirit of shared ownership and community learning).

Muralists are invited to submit proposals that depict images of educator Rice and his legacy contributions– the first African American school library in the Southwest, the garden, and the first hot lunches in AISD.

On April 26, 2019, the school and community will unveil the mural at a Rice Birthday Party and Reunion of former Blackshear students with Rice’s daughter Vonnye Rice attending.


  • Image(s) of Friendly R. Rice, such as a portrait or images of him engaging with teachers, librarians, students, etc.
  • Reference to first official Library at an African American school in the Southwest
  • Reference to the first hot lunches in AISD
  • Reference to garden elements (flowers and vegetables)


  • Children’s faces (including a young Ms. Vonnye)
  • Other historic figures in Austin’s African American education history
  • Other biographical elements or images relevant to Blackshear’s history

MuralMockUPHOW TO SUBMIT Please email a cover letter and the following submission elements to

  • Description of interest and your project concept
  • Artist’s bio describing relevant mural creation experience & connection to the community
  • Three references with knowledge of your mural-making experience and skill
  • Image/s of single or multiple proposed designs for this mural
  • Assurance of availability to meet timeline for key activities: Submit proposal by Jan. 18; 3 Finalists interview/present to selection panel in late January; Pass Criminal Background Check by February 15; Meeting with Key Project Partners re: production, plan for student engagement & potentially fine-tuning design in early February; (Possible) Second Meeting with School Partners in late February; Paint Production and Interaction with Classes in March-April; Complete Mural by April 22.
  • A list of paint and other materials you will use (i.e. acrylic, spray paint)
  • Information about the longevity of the proposed work and what maintenance would be required for your chosen medium in light of the design space & brick surface, or in the event of defacing.
  • Any previous work with students. Teaching experience is not a requirement, but a willingness to bring the artistic process to life for young learners would be fantastic!
  • Your proposed total fee for the project that will cover labor, materials, supplies, and equipment not to exceed $5,000*

FriendlySmallerPortraitDEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS January 18, 2019.  A selection committee will announce the chosen design by February 12, 2019.

UNVEIL EVENT & PUBLICITY The selected artist will be present for the unveiling event on April 26, 2019. The chosen mural design, artist’s bio, and still or film/video imagery of the mural-making process, the artist and the mural will become part of Blackshear Bridge promotional materials. The artist will have an opportunity for editorial comment on the press release, in associated materials, and to the media.

PAYMENT The selected mural artist may invoice Blackshear Bridge for labor and reimbursement with receipts for materials in up to three installments through May 15, 2019.

PROJECT EXTENSION  Neighborhood Venue Exhibit An exhibit at a neighborhood venue will complement the mural and mention it during the weeks surrounding the mural’s unveiling in April. The exhibit will highlight the history, values, and accomplishments of black educators in Austin including Friendly R. Rice, as well as provide information about African American school libraries and foodways in central Texas– two areas FriendlyBirthdayPartywhere Principal Rice, the subject of the mural, innovated at Blackshear Elementary School. See preliminary research below.

For any questions or further information, please contact

Blackshear Bridge is a 501c3 nonprofit organization founded in 2013 to create and maintain diverse and sustainable communities in central east Austin.  For more information, peruse this website and follow us on Facebook.


* Execution of mural timeline contingent on final design approval by AISD Facilities.


Friendly R. Rice started as Blackshear Elementary School’s Assistant Principal in 1931. He became the Supervising Principal in 1933 and would lead the school until 1972.

The Ivy League-educated Rice, widely viewed as a leading progressive educator, had free rein to implement his innovative ideas – collaborating with social service agencies to serve what we today call “at risk” kids, building a library with a credentialed librarian (the first at a black school in the southwest), and providing hot lunches for kids, a novelty adopted throughout the District.

Mr. Rice started the school’s first outdoor garden in the 1930s.

Further information on Rice can be obtained at the Austin Historical Society, George Washington Carver Museum, through the Portal to Texas History’s Building the African-American Community collection, or by emailing


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