Saturday, December 16, 2017
News Roundup

Back to the drawing board for St. Petersburg's Arts in Transit project

ST. PETERSBURG — Nearly eighteen months ago, the City Council applauded an ambitious plan to transform bus shelters and stops along Central Avenue into a unified artistic vision.

That plan is now headed back to the drawing board.

The city staff was authorized in July 2014 to begin negotiations on the $2.3 million "Arts in Transit" project with the artistic team of Carol Mickett and Robert Stackhouse.

Mickett and Stackhouse's concept envisioned about 16 stops with lighted colored-coded columns built along the city's primary east-west corridor.

But in late December, the city's cultural affairs director, Wayne Atherholt, ended negotiations with Mickett and Stackhouse.

"They just weren't able to provide what we normally get from those types of projects," said Atherholt. "We didn't get what we needed."

City officials decided that it needs a team that has more expertise in public works and engineering. Artists aren't usually in charge of these types of projects, he said.

Atherholt's comments rankled Stackhouse and Mickett, who have completed large public art projects in Chattanooga, Tenn., and Richmond, Va.

"Why say something that will be on the Internet forever that will sully some artists' professional reputation, especially when what was said was false," Mickett said.

Added Stackhouse: "We just completed a project in Richmond where we assembled and worked with teams of engineers and fabricators at a similar cost, scope and magnitude to the Central Avenue project."

Atherholt said he was familiar with Mickett and Stackhouse's work in Virginia, which involved a unified James River theme, including a 73-foot mosaic and a steel and glass sculpture in the lobby of a high-rise downtown Richmond office tower completed last summer.

"That was a much different project," he said.

The city's decision surprised many in the city's arts community.

Dalí Museum director Hank Hine said he didn't know the details of what happened, but defended the reputations of Mickett and Stackhouse on previous large-scale projects, including one in Chattanooga.

"Everything I have seen from this team have been scrupulously and expertly pulled off," Hine said.

Jeff Danner, a former City Council member who was working with Mickett and Stackhouse, said he was frustrated by the city staff seemingly uninterested in helping the team negotiate complex federal and county regulations.

"They just kept saying, 'Look it up.' This wasn't Mickett/Stackhouse's fault," he said.

Instead, Danner thinks, the project "got lost in the bureaucratic shuffle."

Mickett and Stackhouse were selected during the final months of former mayor Bill Foster's administration in 2013. Subsequent turnover of the city staff, including former cultural affairs manager Elizabeth Brincklow, rendered the project an orphan lacking an influential patron, Danner said.

Another former council member, Leslie Curran, said she was dumbfounded by the news. Mickett and Stackhouse have an international reputation with shows in museums all over the world, she said.

"It just boggles the mind that this project was ended," Curran said. "This was a signature project not just for St. Petersburg but this whole area."

Atherholt said the city remains excited about the project, which may or may not involve multiple artists. He hopes to rebid the project in the next month or so.

Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this article. Contact Charlie Frago at [email protected] or (727) 893-8459. [email protected]

Comments

High school scoreboard for Dec. 15

Friday’s scoreboardGirls soccerCountryside 7, Clearwater 0Osceola 9, Bradenton Bayshore 0Palm Harbor U. 2, Plant 1Boys soccerPalm Harbor U. 0, Plant 0Lennard 4, Armwood 1
Updated: 7 hours ago

Lottery resultsNumbers drawn after 9 p.m. are no longer available by our deadlines. For results, go to tampabay.com/lottery.Pick 2, 3, 4, 5Fri., Dec. 15, midday:01 563 0000e_SRit95765Fri., Dec. 15, evening:12 287 1492e_SRit04851Fantasy 5Fri., Dec. 15...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Gators play Nebraska, still seeking elusive volleyball title

Gators play Nebraska, still seeking elusive volleyball title

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — There is very little these days that can dampen the mood of Florida volleyball coach Mary Wise, whose Gators knocked off reigning national champion Stanford in Thursday’s NCAA semifinals and face Nebraska tonight for the title. Not...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Pinellas sheriff’s investigator fired, could face criminal charges for involvement in child custody battle

Pinellas sheriff’s investigator fired, could face criminal charges for involvement in child custody battle

LARGO — A Pinellas sheriff’s child protective investigator has been fired and could face criminal charges after an investigation found she made a child custody recommendation to a judge as a favor to a friend.Jayne Johnson, who has worked for the She...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Festivus 2017: Send us your best grievances

Festivus 2017: Send us your best grievances

Here's your chance. Tell us what annoyed you in 2017, and we'll share it with our readers.
Updated: 9 hours ago
Experts chart path for Hillsborough to grow smarter before sprawl takes over

Experts chart path for Hillsborough to grow smarter before sprawl takes over

TAMPA — Nearly 600,000 more people will live in Hillsborough County by 2040, and if elected officials and county planners don’t take bold steps now, the population boom will turn the county into the soulless sprawl of Anywhere, U.S.A.That’s the messa...
Updated: 9 hours ago

Highlights of GOP compromise bill to overhaul tax code

WASHINGTON — Republicans in Congress have blended separate tax bills passed by the House and Senate into compromise legislation that seeks to achieve a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s tax code. GOP leaders are looking toward passage of the final pa...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Tillerson retreats on offer of unconditional N. Korea talks

Tillerson retreats on offer of unconditional N. Korea talks

WASHINGTON — America’s top diplomat stepped back Friday from his offer of unconditional talks with North Korea, telling world powers that the nuclear-armed nation must earn the right to negotiate with the United States. Secretary of State Rex Tillers...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Judge signals release of ex-Trump chair Paul Manafort to Florida home under curfew and GPS monitoring

Judge signals release of ex-Trump chair Paul Manafort to Florida home under curfew and GPS monitoring

A federal judge Friday said a bail package has been put together that would release former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort from home confinement in his condominium in Virginia and allow him to reside at his house in Palm Beach Gardens, but unde...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Deputies: Plant City men fled in stolen car, shot dog, hid in swamp

Deputies: Plant City men fled in stolen car, shot dog, hid in swamp

DOVER — Two Plant City men who ran from deputies and shot a dog were captured after a brief pursuit Thursday, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.They ditched a stolen car, ran away on foot, crossed through several yards and then tr...
Updated: 11 hours ago