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Names of donors for proposed Echelman artwork released

Mayor Rick Kriseman's office made the disclosure after City Council Member Steve Kornell said he couldn't support the contract without the names.
A rendering of the proposed Echelman sculpture showing a daytime view from Vinoy Park. (Studio Echelman)
A rendering of the proposed Echelman sculpture showing a daytime view from Vinoy Park. (Studio Echelman)
Published Jul. 13, 2018

A day after the City Council voted down a $1.5 million contract with world- famous artist Janet Echelman, Mayor Rick Kriseman is signaling he's not given up on snagging one of the artist's billowing net sculptures.

A week after announcing that he had received pledges of $1.3 million in private money for the $2.8 project, Kriseman has now released the names of the previously anonymous donors. The information comes after City Council Member Steve Kornell said he would not vote for the Echelman contract unless the names were made public.

"I don't want to say no. It's a great opportunity," Kornell said.

St. Pete City Council rejects Echelman's aerial artwork

"I appreciate the donors. I cannot say yes to anonymous donors," he added at Thursday's meeting, after Kriseman indicated that some might not want their names to be public.

The names released in a memo to the council Friday:

The Aresty Family. Jim Aresty is with the St. Petersburg Group.

Laura Bryant, member of the city's Public Arts Commission and chair of the Pier public art committee that selected artists for smaller projects in the Pier District.

Trevor Burgess, former C1 Bank CEO.

John Catsimatidis, the Red Apple Group. The New York billionaire plans to build a tower on the 400 Central Avenue block.

Rudy Ciccarello, businessman using mostly his own money to build the $90 million Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement at 355 Fourth St. N.

Robert Glaser, president and CEO of Smith & Associates

Kathryn Howd, Public Arts Commission

Dr. Kamal Majeed, founder of NexTech Systems, Inc.

Jan and Jay Miller and family. Jay Miller is the founder of J Square Developers.

Jo-Ann and John Nestor, owners of Charles Rutenberg Realty.

J. Crayton Pruitt Foundation. Gave a leadership gift to the Warehouse Arts District enabling the purchase of land and establishment of the ArtsXchange.

Becky and David Ramsey, avid art collectors. He is with Raymond James.

Lorna Taylor, CEO of Premier Eye Care.

Judith Ryan

The money pledged would pay for Echelman's sculpture. The city has budgeted $1.3 million in public funds for the infrastructure, which will include the artwork's supporting poles. The Public Arts Commission is contributing $250,000.

The release of the donor information might help overcome one hurdle in the quest to give St. Petersburg bragging rights to an Echelman sculpture. But the project still must overcome strong opposition to its installation at Spa Beach, which is protected by the city charter.

Despite the 4-3 vote, council agreed to ask city staff for a report on Aug. 2 to determine whether the sculpture could be moved to another location within the 26-acre, $76 million Pier District, or be reoriented at Spa Beach.

Kriseman appears to be keeping his hopes up.

"My thanks to the engaged citizens of St. Pete and our city council for the healthy discussion about our amazing public waterfront and Janet Echelman's sculpture," he tweeted. "I'm hopeful we'll get it done. Moving forward… #CityOfTheArts"

The Massachusetts-based artist also seems focused on carrying on. In a prepared statement, she said she is pleased with the support her work has received.

"Our focus continues to be on working with the City to see how best to facilitate a sculpture in the Pier District, knowing this would play a major role in St. Petersburg's growing status as a city of the arts," she said.

Times senior news researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report.


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