Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA) Aquires Artwork by Regional Artists

By Guest Author on March 2, 2022
New artwork lines the hall at AMWA. Image courtesy of Timothy DeVenney.

By Timothy DeVenney

Recently, the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA), a nonprofit representing urban, local drinking water systems in the US, sought art to enliven the walls of its office suite, located in the District of Columbia. The funding was provided through a grant from TF Cornerstone as part of a lease extension agreement. Full disclosure—I am a local artist, I work for the association, and directed the outreach to East City Art to facilitate an open call to artists within the DMV.

“The Washington metropolitan area has so many talented artists,” said AMWA’s Chief Executive Officer Diane VanDe Hei. “And we thought featuring some of them would add color and life to our walls.”

The staff set a budget, determined minimum and maximum art size requirements, established a price point, and set parameters for media and subject matter (water-related) for artists to follow. The call consisted of each artist submitting via simple email: name, address, email, phone number, price, and size for up to three images of work to ease the submission process.

Within days, submissions were streaming into a designated email address. Casting a wide net delivered a variety of artworks varying in size, media, and subject matter from emerging to well-seasoned artists alike. The call, three weeks in total, produced a variety to allow staff members a selection of pairings for the shared spaces and individual pieces for their private offices.

The selection process was, at first glance, overwhelming. The selection began by printing a hard copy of each submission image and laying them out on a large conference table. In a first elimination round, staff removed images that did not seem to meet the “fit” for the office. A second elimination round produced selections of “pairings” for shared spaces. A final, third round of consideration eliminated artworks by cost to meet the overall budget restriction.

The result: the association selected fifteen works by ten artists for purchase. Staff notified every artist who applied via email, some with regrets, others with a congratulatory purchase note. Everyone kept purchase and delivery as straightforward as possible. Upon delivery of artwork, each artist filled out a simple purchase agreement in exchange for same-day payment.

The following artists had work acquired by AMWA:

  • Jennifer Barlow, MD
  • Leni Berliner, DC
  • Paula Cleggett, DC
  • Amelia DeSilva, MD
  • Cheryl Edwards, DC
  • Robin Harris, VA
  • Michael McSorley, DC
  • Ravi Raman, MD
  • Elaine Wilson, MD
  • Beth Vosoba, DC

“We’re very excited about how this turned out. Supporting local artists was a meaningful way to make our office space more inviting,” VanDe Hei added. “I hope we spur other offices to do the same.”