In a few weeks, a 17-foot-tall sculpture will sprout in the roundabout at the entrance of the newly opened All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg.
When construction first began there, local artist Catherine Woods declared, "My work belongs here." So she made a cold call to the architect.
"I don't normally do this," Woods said she told him, "but I'm an artist from the neighborhood and I drive by the building every day and I think my work would really look good there."
Turns out she didn't need to make the call. Woods' work had gotten attention in some circles and, unbeknownst to her, her name was already on a list of local artists in line for possible commission work by the Art Committee of the All Children's Foundation.
As construction neared completion, the committee brought in a consultant to help finalize some of its selections.
"I was familiar with her (Woods') background in fine arts and the graphic design world, so I knew she would understand how the sculpture needed to offer information about the hospital's history," said the consultant, Ann Wykell, the former cultural affairs manager for St. Petersburg.
Timeline Tower is a brightly colored tower of 16 panels made with curved aluminum and painted with automotive paint that is clear coated for durability — sort of like a custom automotive paint job.
"Conceptually, the curved panels on the tower represent . . . the history of the hospital," said Woods, 49, who is collaborating with her fiance, Mark Aeling, 43, on the project.
"Once I knew what the idea was (from the foundation), I worked with the hospital to gain access to the visual library,'' she said. Shannon Jager of the foundation, Tim Strouse, vice president of facilities at All Children's, and Mike Sexton, who works in creative services, were a big help with the visual concept, she said.
"I wanted to show the different architectural stages that the hospital has gone through."
The foundation was also interested in showing a diversity of children, so Woods included smiling faces of some of the children who have been patients at All Children's.
So when can we expect to see the artwork?
"We're still ballparking the installation for late February or early March," said Woods.
"After we've done a dry fit in the studio, it'll be sent to a painter. Then we'll go to the site with a crane and a bucket lift to place the panels on site. It should all take a day or two."
Woods, a site-specific artist whose work is displayed throughout the United States, is owner of C Glass Studio at 515 22nd St. S, Unit E.
The 4,000-square-foot warehouse space, nestled in a small cove in the Industrial Dome District, is a stone's throw from the new Job Corps site. It is also home to Eric Higgs, a stone sculpture artist, and Dan Painter, a sculptor and painter. Duncan McClellan, a famous glass artist, will be moving into the neighborhood soon.
"This represents the economic impact of the arts in the city. These artists are bringing work here," said Wykell. "It's becoming an enclave of artists who work on this particular scale and need to be able to run machinery for larger projects."
They represent a lot of business coming to this area, said Wykell.
Sandra J. Gadsden is editor of Neighborhood Times. She can be reached at (727) 893-8874 or firstname.lastname@example.org.