Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Clock ticking on public art choices for St. Pete pier

ST. PETERSBURG — Pilings for the city's new pier won't go in for months, but for the committee charged with choosing public art for the $66 million Pier District, the deadline is tight.

Architects must know soon whether special infrastructure will be needed for the chosen work. As yet, though, the committee appointed by the city's Public Arts Commission has not picked an artist and is unsure how much money it will have to spend.

The group is finalizing plans to hire expert help. Consultant Ann Wykell, a former cultural affairs manager for the city, has been tapped to guide the committee through the process. She will be paid $10,000.

Part of her job will be to deliver a curated list of artists from which the committee can choose. Another central task will be to help the committee boost the district's almost $400,000 public art budget.

The pier art committee and at least one City Council member believe more money is needed to make a statement on the downtown waterfront. Chris Steinocher, president and CEO of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce, agrees.

"If we consider ourselves a 'world-class city of the arts,' our commitment as a community to public art projects has got to reflect this notion," he said.

"Travel to any other world-class community, and you'll see a scale of public art that many desire for our city, too. … And public art usually doesn't just come from city tax dollars. I just believe if we look around, others, too, will help us grow the city's budget for this part of the pier project."

In keeping with the city regulations, the $46 million pier portion of the district — which stretches 1,265 feet into Tampa Bay and includes Spa Beach — will be allocated about $347,500 for public art. The $20 million pier approach, an area from Beach Drive to Spa Beach, will get approximately $138,000.

Those calculations come from the city's requirement that a percentage of the cost of certain public works projects be set aside for public art. For projects exceeding $10 million, three-quarters of a percent of the project's cost must go to public art. The cap is $500,000. The arts commission can allocate funds above that and the budget also can be supplemented with private contributions.

City Council member Steve Kornell, a member of the arts commission, says he will propose a boost to the Pier District's public art budget contingent on matching funds.

"If the public steps forward and raises some funds, what I'm willing to ask for is $250,000. … A dollar-to-dollar match," he said, adding that he will bring it up at Thursday's City Council meeting.

Pier art committee chairperson Laura Bryant said the group, which has been discussing potential artists, has ideas of what it wants for the waterfront attraction.

"Everyone on the committee has been particularly interested in things that do more than just sit there, things that engage people," said Bryant, who also sits on the city's arts commission.

"There are LED lighted discs that change color when they are touched, for instance. There's a piece that we looked at that uses the stream of social media going on around it that changes the way it looks. These are just for instances. We are looking at things that can be almost participatory."

Ken Cowart, an architect with ASD, the Tampa-based firm designing the pier portion of the district, said pilings are scheduled to start going in early next year.

"We just have limited time," he told fellow committee members at a recent meeting.

"There are significant areas for public art on the pier, however, exact placement of art needs to take a variety of elements into consideration," such as access for emergency vehicles and sight lines to downtown, he added in a later email.

The pier art committee hopes to have its short list of artists by the end of the year, Bryant said.

"Which means making decisions fairly soon after that, at least knowing what kind of work we're looking at," she said.

"We're certainly aware that we are stewards of the public money. With art, there's always someone who doesn't like it and that's one of the dangers we are going to be faced with. I think what we end up deciding on will delight people. That's certainly our goal."

Contact Waveney Ann Moore at or (727) 892-2283. Follow @wmooretimes.

Clock ticking on public art choices for St. Pete pier 08/19/16 [Last modified: Friday, August 19, 2016 8:35am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Half of Florida lawmakers fail or nearly fail review of support for public records

    State Roundup

    WEST PALM BEACH — Half of Florida's legislators failed or nearly failed in a review of their support for public records and meetings given by Florida newspapers and an open-government group after this year's legislative sessions.

    State Senator Bill Galvano, R- Bradenton (left) and Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran ranked on opposite sides of the spectrum in an analysis of support for open records. Galvano scored a B-minus and Corcoran scored a D-plus.
[Times file photo]
  2. Yale dean on leave over offensive Yelp reviews leaves post

    Bizarre News

    NEW HAVEN, Conn. — A Yale University dean who was placed on leave over offensive reviews she posted on Yelp has left her position at the Ivy League institution, school officials said Tuesday.

  3. Federal agencies demand records from SeaWorld theme park


    ORLANDO — Two federal agencies are reportedly demanding financial records from SeaWorld.

    Killer whales Ikaika and Corky participate in behaviors commonly done in the wild during SeaWorld's Killer Whale educational presentation in this photo from Jan. 9. SeaWorld has been subpoenaed by two federal agencies for comments that executives and the company made in August 2014 about the impact from the "Blackfish" documentary. 
[Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS]
  4. The people you meet along O.J. Howard Lane


    OJ Howard (far right) is seen in a photo from his adolescent years at Bethesda Missionary Baptist Church in Prattville, Ala., on Wednesday, May 3, 2017. Howard served as an usher in addition to attending regular services at this church.