Have you noticed a new 8-foot-tall bronze sculpture of a woman with exaggerated curves on Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa? It’s by world-renowned Latin American artist Fernando Botero.
Titled Mujer Vestida (Dressed Woman), it is on loan from the corporate collection of Miami-based Related Group, who are developing the Ritz-Carlton Residences, 27-story two-tower luxury condos and townhomes that will rise up on Bayshore where the Bay Oaks Apartments currently are.
Mujer Vestida is one of Botero’s most widely exhibited works, having been shown in cities worldwide. The woman depicted is fashionably dressed, so she fits right in on Bayshore.
Placing art at its properties is at the core of Related Group’s ethos, whether they’re luxury condos or affordable housing. Jorge M. Pérez, CEO and chairman of Related Group, is one of the leading collectors of contemporary art in Florida. He’s the namesake of Pérez Art Museum Miami, to which he donated money and part of his art collection. Artistic programming and grants are created through the Jorge M. Pérez Collection and the Jorge M. Pérez Family Foundation.
Related Group’s corporate collection boasts more than 500 pieces, mainly of contemporary art. In addition to placing masterpieces at its properties, Related also commissions artists to create murals, sculptures, lobby installations and public art.
Patricia Hanna, Related Group’s art director, said that even though groundbreaking hasn’t started on the residences, placing the sculpture there creates awareness about the upcoming residences.
“There’s nothing like showcasing a world-class artwork to show the quality of work in the project,” she said.
Hanna said they selected a Botero sculpture for Tampa because he is one of the most widely recognized artists in the world.
“You may not know much about art, but you can recognize Botero,” she said.
Art enhances the quality of life, she said, something Related wants to extend to their buyers and to the areas where their projects reside.
“It becomes art for the city,” she said.
The sculpture is on a long-term loan for now, and may be switched out eventually. Hanna said she has been visiting Tampa to look for local artists to incorporate into the project, to create opportunities for them while contributing to the local art scene.
Local artist Roberto Biaggi with Cero Design & Built, Inc. created a mosaic mural on the facade of another one of Related Group’s Tampa projects, the renovation of the Mary McLeod Bethune apartments, which offer affordable housing for seniors. It depicts the tree of life in a rainbow of ceramic mosaics.
While the design for the Ritz-Carlton Residences is ultra contemporary, it will include a piece of Tampa’s history.
Mike Hammon, senior vice president of Related Group, said he was alerted by the Centro Español de Tampa club about a historical fountain on the property. It was from the Centro Español Hospital, built in 1904 and razed in 1970 to build Bay Oaks Apartments. Originally featuring three fountains, only one was left on the property.
When he found it, Hammon said he thought it was a planter. He has called in a fountain restoration company and said that while it will have to be moved during construction, it will be incorporated into the new site and “will be visible from Bayshore.”
A plaque detailing the fountain’s history will be added. “It’s so neat to say something is historic in Florida,” he said.
Hammon said the Botero sculpture could remain where it is during construction because it’s located outside of the work zone on the five-acre property.
“Ultimately we have a healthy art budget for this project so it might stay for a while and get some companions,” he said.