Thursday, April 26, 2018
Opinion

Dignifying this downtown sculpture would ring hollow

Think of this as Catherine Woods inventing an entirely new form of creative expression — the nanosecond art show. You'll laugh. You'll cry. And if you blink you'll miss the whole thing.

If you drive through the West Shore area, chances are you've been exposed to the artistic oeuvre of Woods and never even noticed.

Woods is the artist behind Kinetic Ring, an etched glass and coated steel sculpture conveniently located at Kennedy Boulevard and Memorial Highway across the street from WestShore Plaza. Perhaps convenient isn't the right word, unless you're a hermit.

Artsy-smartsy types may well view Woods' work and think to themselves, "Ah, yes, Kinetic Ring. How . . . interesting." Just between us though, this thing looks more like a giant sucker on a stick. But then again, I'm a dogs-playing-poker kind of guy when it comes to art stuff.

One of the often-heard terms in art-speak is whether a particular piece of creativity is "accessible." In this case, Kinetic Ring is about as accessible as being able to just walk into MacDill Air Force Base's Central Command to play around with the computers.

Or put another way, the spumoni on a pole Kinetic Ring is situated in a tiny splotch of land that is also home to a sober memorial dedicated to the Hillsborough County veterans who died in World War I. Bet you never noticed that either.

Call me an art antediluvian if you want, but isn't the entire purpose of any form of artwork to be experienced by people? If you didn't know any better you would think the site selection committee that decided to put Kinetic Ring into perpetual seclusion was made up of Thomas Pynchon, J.D. Salinger and the Unabomber.

But no, that distinction rests with the Westshore Alliance, which promotes the business interests of the area. By the way, here's a task for the alliance. It is possible to find some common agreement on the neighborhood's name, which, depending on how it is being applied, is variously spelled WestShore, West Shore and/or Westshore.

Woods was diplomatic in trying to explain having her work placed in the tortured artist/black beret wearing/Birkenstock, the artistic equivalent of Dick Cheney's undisclosed location, was simply marvy. "It's more designed to be interesting (there's that kiss of death word again) from a 360-degree view while driving by, because that is how it will be seen," Woods told the Tampa Bay Times' Elisabeth Parker.

Translation: Look, I got my $95,311 for cooking up a giant rainbow lollipop. They can stick this thing in the middle of Tampa Bay for all I care.

Ultimately Kinetic Ring, inadvertently perhaps, offers a poignant postscript to the city's various monuments and shrines to its past.

The artwork sits only steps away from the World War I memorial to Hillsborough's 106 lost souls in the war to end all wars — forgotten, overlooked, tucked away amid the din of the day's traffic jams.

The location has been described by some as Tampa's loneliest memorial. And it is.

This is no knock on Woods as an artist. But a piece of land, no matter how tiny, dedicated to the memory of those who gave their lives for the nation shouldn't have to share space with pop art that looks like a piece of candy.

Wouldn't this be a bit like placing a blownup version of Andy Warhol's Campbell's Soup Cans next to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial?

Then again, maybe it's not such a bad idea that barely anyone kinetically flying by on Kennedy Boulevard will have time to notice.

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