ST. PETERSBURG — In Konagai, Japan, there's a series of bus stops shaped like fruit. Passengers can wait for a ride inside a red, ripe strawberry or beneath an oval, striped watermelon.
In Charlotte, N.C., the popular Blue Line light rail is marked by curved concrete benches and small sculptures of leaves from hornbeam and oak trees.
A year from now St. Petersburg could be held up as another example of public art that boosts public transportation, and conversely public transportation that draws more attention to public art.
The city's Central Avenue Art in Transit project has picked three artists to design, create and install 10 artistic bus stops between Fourth and 34th streets along Central Avenue.
Local artists Carol Mickett, Thaddeus Root and Robert Stackhouse will work together on the project. They haven't picked a theme yet but should begin gathering community opinion very soon.
"The search committee was really pleased to receive fine responses from many qualified artists in our region," said Elizabeth Brincklow, the city's director of Arts & International Relations. This artists' plan for how they would involve the public in the brainstorming helped win them the job.
The artists will receive $25,000 to finance research, which includes getting public opinion. Then they will get $500,000 for creating and installing the art.
"Each location will not have a shelter," Bricklow said. "Some will have just a bike rack or (trash) receptacle."
What goes where is yet to be determined. Some art features will be installed at existing bus stops while others will installed at new stops.
"This will be something that unites Central Avenue," she added. The city plans to add more art farther down the street in a later phase.
Contact Katherine Snow Smith at (727) 893-8795 or email@example.com