It’s Winter (Fall to anyone outside FL), you are in Tampa, the weather is beautiful, you want to go outside, you want to do something different! Why not check out 20 Brilliant Outdoor Art Installations Not to Miss in Tampa. We drive by them, they catch our eye; can you guess which one caused me to get in an accident because I did not do the SMART thing and stop to look! Promise you will stop and park, no drive-bys!! It got me thinking, how much do I really know about these pieces? Who are the artists, what inspired them, what is it’s name and why did the artist create it? The answers surprised me!
My ‘Fall into Spring’ series highlights a few public art installations at a time, each located near the another so you can explore easily. This is the first. Grab a picnic basket, call the Publix Deli, order sandwiches, grab some chips, nuts and sodas, a blanket, camera and your phone….you are now ready to Explore your World!
20 Brilliant Outdoor Art Installations Not to Miss in Tampa
Bayshore Boulevard and Gandy Boulevard Median – Family of Man – By Geoffrey Naylor, I adore this piece, it is one of the oldest installations. Depicting a man and a woman with two children it describes my family. Perhaps this is why I am so drawn to it, I am not sure, I have spent considerable time hanging with this piece, photographing it, enjoying it. Originally a private commission it first stood on Franklin Street, Downtown. Donated to the public art program in 1993 it moved to it’s current site at the corner of Bayshore and Gandy Blvd. in 1997. At the southern end of Bayshore Blvd. it begins the 4.5 trek known as America’s longest sidewalk. I invite you to start here and follow the pieces below.
Bayshore Boulevard Median between Julia and Mason Street – Visual Welcome – Owned by the City of Tampa this stunning aluminum sculpture is the mayor’s favorite piece. Tucked away in a corner of the city and unseen by most residents since 1995 Mayor Bob had the piece moved to it’s present location on Bayshore Boulevard near the Academy of Holy Names Visual Welcome greets visitors entering Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park from the South-side. Artist Yaacov Agam, used aircraft alunimum to create the panels. The panels are painted on both sides with Agam’s characteristic colorful, kinetic patterns, which you will notice change and move as you view the piece.
Bayshore Boulevard and Bay-to-Bay Boulevard Median – 911 Artifact – Placed in 2011 this piece is owned by the City of Tampa, installed as a memorial to lives lost on September 11th in the center of the aluminum steel alloy sculpture is a girder recovered from the World Trade Center courtesy of the Port Authority of NYC. A commemorative plaque accompanies the piece at the site providing additional information.
Bayshore Boulevard and Rubideaux Street Median – The Wave – Owned by the City of Tampa locals refer to it as “The Slinky”. Placed in 1988 it is a 10′ x 15′ x 6′ steel alloy sculpture commissioned for the City of Tampa. Created by artist Mary Ann Unger ‘The Wave’ is “the form of a shell, like a wave breaking, and like a fish jumping. It is also an arch and a kind of gateway.” Originally installed at City Hall Plaza the artist was thrilled when the piece made the move to Bayshore many years ago.
Bayshore Boulevard – Horses – Equinimity – Owned by the City of Tampa Public Art program – Odessa FL Artist Bud Oleson, who passed years ago created equine sculptures from strips of old garage doors he cut into strips, wrapping them around steel frames. When Bud passed away his widow Louise donated the three lifesize ‘horses’ we see on Bayshore Boulevard to the City Arts Program. Their son James followed in his dad’s footsteps with a studio located in Riverview.
Bayshore Boulevard Sidewalk past W Beach Place at the Boat Basin – Fish on Bayshore – Owned by the City of Tampa the Fish have been part of the Bayshore scene since 1995. Sculpted in fiberglass they invitingly hang under an open structure formerly used by fishermen to display their prize-winning tarpon catches from the tarpon Round-Up. Some of you may remember them hanging there for days, each tagged with it’s weight. These smell much better! Genovar’s artwork consists of five fiberglass fish, each indigenous to Tampa: a redfish, a barracuda, a bull dolphin, a tarpon and a snook. The sculpture is meant to blend old Tampa with new Tampa.
Franklin Street at Old Water Street – Dick Greco – A bronze statue of former Mayor Dick Greco, owned by the City of Tampa and created by artist Steve Dickey in 2009 Dick served as Tampa’s Mayor twice, first from October 1, 1967 to April 1, 1974, then again from April 1, 1995 to April 1, 2003. Mayor Greco played a vital role in bringing Tampa’s Streetcar System to the city opening up the Channel District. The sculpture of Mayor Greco, is downtown across from the Sail Pavillion at a TECOLine Streetcar stop for Channelside and Ybor City.
Old Water Street Cotanchobee Park – Cenotaph and Ceremonial Space – Owned by the City of Tampa this piece was created by Bob Haozous and erected in 2009. The site includes sixteen text panels recounting the storied history surrounding Fort Brooke. The site includes a serpentine path to the Ceremonial Space sinifying life’s twists and turns. The panels include eye-witness accounts, the Seminole Song of Removal, maps, a muster roll, and more. A brick circle separates into four quadrants, each corresponding to one of four cardinal directions with yellow representing the East, red for the North, black for the West, and white for the South. The Miccosukee tribe believes life spins in a circle starting in the east, moves to the north, west, ending in the south. Native people understand these directional colors. The Ceremonial Space stainless steel sculpture represents branches of cypress trees at the four cardinal directions. This space reminds us about the connection local tribes, animals and birds have to the majestic cypress tree.
Channelside Drive and East Cumberland in the Roundabout – Untitled by George Sugarman – Erected in 1985 George’s steel, aluminum and acrylic sculpture first took up residence at Ashley and Kennedy Street on the grounds of Rivergate Tower. Originally commissioned by NCNB bank for that building, the new owners of Rivergate donated the piece to The City. Sugarman’s vision now rests in the Channelside District in the traffic circle. Sugarman as an artist loves how an object impacts one’s engagement within a space, he states, “My work is designed to be touched, and felt and walked through.” In it’s current location his 36′ tall sculpture can be ‘played’ with by visitors to the cruise terminals, aquarium and Channelside district. I encourage you to walk over to the circle and examine his work up close. Interact with it, it was his dream!
East Cumberland Garage – Channelside Mural in glass – Owned by the City of Tampa this mural in glass by artist Bruce marsh was installed by the Towers at Channelside, a residential property in 2010. Sixteen feet long Bruce’s mural mural features colorful images of it’s home, Tampa’s channel district.
Nebraska Avenue and Zack Street – Centennial Clock – Owned by City of Tampa the Tampa Union Train station, built in 1912, is a landmark structure on the National Register of Historic Places. Designed using Italian Renaissance Revival Style the train station served as Tampa’s primary gateway for years. Centennial Clock Keep is interpretive of the railroad’s service to both barons and tourists, to Florida citrus and local freight. According to artist Bill Culbertson, his cement statue consists of a column wrapping these service element’s to the top where the clock is housed in the “Watchman’s Tower.” A small watchman’s tower, where an operator was responsible for a crossing gate as trains would pull in and out of the station once sat close to the present site of Culbertson’s clock tower.
Adamo Dr. past North 17th – Street American Journey – Mike Parker created American Journey in acrylic paint in 2013. This public/private Ybor mural project by Mike was supported by the City of Tampa, community volunteers and art students from Hillsborough Community College Ybor Campus. Covering 12,000 square feet it is the largest outdoor original artwork in the state of Florida. Depicting an immigrant family as they start their American journey uncertain yet hopeful hopeful. As you look at the mural from left to right, the scene becomes more complex, just like life, until it reaches a critical point where their past and present destinies merge. As you reflect on the mural, the artist hopes you notice the peace and security of home and family in this work. We each face hard choices, wanting to cling to the comfort of what we know yet wanting to reach towards future success. Mike also depicts conflict between Spanish and Cuban citizens during the Cuban Revolution, the struggle for equality among the blacks, the changing role of women, the class conflict between management and workers and the desire to stay near home while at the same time wanting new experiences and opportunities. The mural is about freedom of choice and finding economic opportunity. There is no better example of successful assimilation of vastly different cultures within the United States. This is a legacy to treasure. Additional information on the mural can be found HERE. http://www.yborartproject.com/
East Royal Street off Florida Avenue – Tampa Postcard – Artits Carl Cowden’s Tampa Postcard is a favorite. Living in a tourist destination you become used to seeing racks of postcads, cheesy tourist trinkets and the paraphanalia that accompanies life in a tourist town. this is why I LOVE this installation! We should not be immune as residents and embrace the fun that comes with living in paradise. Carl Cowden’s postcard painting merges images from past with the present on a historic old building in Tampa. Regarding Postcard carl said, “My experience from advertising and sign painting, coupled with an early influence from Art Nouveau posters and a love of the natural environment has led me to seek to blend all of these elements in my work.” He did a great job! I encourage you to examine his work up close.
Zack and Franklin Streets – Zack Street Promenade of the Arts: Vignettes of Tampa / Bronze Medallions & Ground Cover Dance Steps
Led by the City of Tampa Zack Street has been undergoing a transformation as it becomes a premier Promenade of the Arts connecting Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, the Riverwalk and the Cultural Arts District area. New Public Art features include bronze medallions of Tampa’s history by Andrews LeFevre Studios and this “green wall” of glass panels by artist Susan Gott. A “green wall” Framed by landscaping three columns hold eighteen cast glass panels featuring familiar objects in Tampa Objects like the balustrades at the Henry B. Plant Hotel (now the University of Tampa), to masks from Tampa Theatre, Pirate Ships, ropes, cigar presses, Gasparilla coins and more. You are going to really enjoy this piece by Susan!
Kennedy Blvd. between N Franklin and N Florida – Parking at The Courthouse owned by City of Tampa was created in 2000 by artist Mike Mandel. An amazing achievement in ceramic Mandel’s masterful mosaic centers on the history of the site, former Hillsborough County Courthouse. His piece is made up 3 old digitized and pixelated photos translated into tiles. When visiting this piece look to the side for smaller photographic images etched onto enamel plates depicting some of the historic changes at this site between 1920 and 2000.
Kennedy and North Tampa (BOA Building) – Solstice – from the brilliant mind of artist Charles O Perry was erected in 1985. This metal sculpture has been seen and appreciated by thousands as they walk and drive along the Florida Street Corridor. The sculpture, part of the bank of America Plaza came to the site in 600 pieces. The sculpture rests above a reflecting pool. Perry’s ribbed sculptures suggest many things to many people, which is what art should do!
Whiting and South Tampa Street – The Whiting Street Gate – Time for the truth, even I walked by this piece hundreds of times when I worked downtown never realizing it was a public piece of art, owned by the City. I thought it was cool, clever and unique. I did not know the story behind it, which is why I wrote this article, so people would know, stop and enjoy the creativity, heart, hard work and love comprising each piece in this post. Made by sculptor and metal worker Frank C Strunk III, Frank made the gate for the USAmeribank building on Whiting saying, “My voice as an artist speaks primarily through the industrial aesthetic. I have always been fascinated by old machines, motors, mechanisms, and rusted metal. I try to take the functions of these machines and pose them against the functions of our lives. I feel, as a byproduct of our culture, we spend far too much time as willing participants in this machine, and as a result we miss out on richer, fuller lives,” Well done!
About art and artists Jay Z said:
Artists can have greater access to reality; they can see patterns and details and connections that other people, distracted by the blur of life, might miss. Just sharing that truth can be a very powerful thing.
Take time to do something unusual with your day, go an play, in the art!
I hope you enjoyed 20 Brilliant Outdoor Art Installations Not to Miss in Tampa. Be sure to sign up as a V.I.P. above so following posts in the series “Fall Into Spring” come to your Inbox. Now, is the PERFECT time to explore, enjoy and learn a little more!