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City of Sarasota issues call to artists for public art at downtown roundabout

The city of Sarasota has issued a call to artists for the creation of an original landmark sculpture at a future downtown roundabout at Orange Avenue and Ringling Boulevard. The new roundabout is planned for construction in the summer of 2017.

The Ringling-Orange roundabout is part of a 10-year initiative in Sarasota to ease traffic patterns and promote more pedestrian-friendly roadways in the city’s highest density business, residential and arts districts. Sixteen roundabouts are planned for construction in the downtown region and along Tamiami Trail by 2025.

The City of Sarasota’s Public Art Committee plans to acquire and install landmark sculptures at the center island of each new roundabout in a placemaking effort spearheaded by the City Commission to highlight Sarasota’s identity as a hub for the arts on Florida’s Gulf Coast. These public art installations are budgeted in the city’s Public Art Fund, which collects financial contributions as well as donated artwork from multifamily and non-residential developers in the downtown area, according to David L. Smith, General Manager of the City Neighborhood and Development Services Department.

In early April, the city installed its first roundabout art installation at the Main Street and Orange Avenue roundabout, which opened last October. The artwork, a 20-foot tall stainless steel sculpture featuring multi-colored panels and LED lights was created by Tuscon, AZ artist, H. Blessing Hancock, as a response to a Call to Artists issued by the developers of One Palm Sarasota Luxury Living and Aloft Sarasota Hotel. Blessing Hancock’s work is also on display in cities such as Denver, CO; Shreveport, LA; Dallas, TX and Portland, OR. 

The current Call to Artists for the Ringling-Orange roundabout was submitted by the City of Sarasota with approval from the Public Art Committee and City Commission. This city-initiated Call to Artists is also a national call for sculpture proposals through the web-based Call for Entry (CaFÉ) organization, though Smith says the city is currently focusing its advertising efforts solely on local and regional artists. 

“It would be great if a local artist is selected, but that’s not actually one of our qualifications. I think that ultimately the Public Art Committee is looking for the best art we can acquire for Sarasota. ” Smith says. 

The proposal must be submitted by June 5, 2016 and its budget must not exceed $150,000. Smith says there is no stated stylistic preference or theme, but sculptures must not exceed 20 feet in height and the design must not include signs, traffic control features, auditory devices, reflective surfaces, flashing lights, moving parts, moving illumination, advertising, text, or alphanumeric characters. To compete in the competition, artists must have successfully completed other public art commissions and be familiar with creating artwork suited to Florida’s climate and environment. The Public Art Committee will choose three finalists to make in-person presentations at a special public art meeting that will be open for public comment, and artist honorariums of $1,000 each will be paid to the three finalists. 

The winning work must be completed for installation in Nov, 2017, following the construction of the Ringling-Orange roundabout. 

Smith says there are currently more than 40 art pieces in the city’s growing art collection, which includes the work of local artists as well as artists from around Florida and the United States. The city’s full collection can be found online in a public art catalogue that is maintained by the City of Sarasota.

Read more articles by Jessi Smith.

 Jessi Smith is a feature writer for 83 Degrees Media in the Tampa Bay region of Florida.
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