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New sculpture at Midtown Tampa adds to the development’s focus on public art

A sculpture from Spanish artist Okuda San Miguel was recently installed.
Brian Maligno, 26, of Tampa, and Sara Munie, 23, of St. Louis, look at a sculpture titled "Ecosystem" by Spanish artist Okuda San Miguel at Midtown Tampa.
Brian Maligno, 26, of Tampa, and Sara Munie, 23, of St. Louis, look at a sculpture titled "Ecosystem" by Spanish artist Okuda San Miguel at Midtown Tampa. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published Nov. 10
Updated Nov. 13

Midtown Tampa has been making news lately, with new companies including Primo Water and Kforce moving corporate headquarters to the development that features a mix of office space, residences, retail, restaurants and a hotel.

Related: Tampa's Primo Water relocates global headquarters to Midtown Tampa.

Midtown Tampa is also home to works of public art.

This is by design, not by requirement, like the ones imposed on other developments in Tampa, said Nick Haines, CEO of Midtown developers the Bromley Cos.

A new sculpture by internationally acclaimed Spanish artist Okuda San Miguel recently joined three other works of public art already installed at Midtown Tampa. It sits directly in the middle of the development at Midtown Commons.

Haines said public art was part of the original concept of Midtown Tampa. It serves a few purposes, including helping people orient themselves in the vast development. People can also use the art as landmarks for meeting locations. It can serve as backdrops for Instagram snaps, or provide moments of contemplation and engagement for people living at, working at or visiting Midtown.

Haines has also seen interest in the public art from potential tenants.

“We’re now seeing that companies are really considering when they choose the overall environment they’re going to want to be in, it’s not just the restaurants and the parking and easy location,” Haines said. “We’re actually seeing some tenants specifically ask us about public art, what we’re doing in different places.”

Already at Midtown are blue metal butterflies adorning the exterior of the Waterview Parking Garage and throughout the development. Titled Letting Loose, the sculptures were fabricated by Los Angeles artist PunkMeTender. Bromley said there are plans to devise a scavenger hunt of them for kids.

An art installation titled "Letting Loose" by Los Angeles-based artist PunkMeTender at Midtown Tampa.
An art installation titled "Letting Loose" by Los Angeles-based artist PunkMeTender at Midtown Tampa. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]

Immersion, a mural by Los Angeles-based artist Trav MSK, mixes collaged photographs of vintage signs and hand-lettered typography.

A mural titled "Immersion" by Los Angeles-based artist Travis MSK at Midtown Tampa.
A mural titled "Immersion" by Los Angeles-based artist Travis MSK at Midtown Tampa. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]

Tampa-based husband-and-wife artist team Tony Krol and Michelle Sawyer, known collectively as Illsol, have a hand-painted mural titled Staycation at the Aloft Hotel’s rooftop pool.

A mural titled "Staycation" by Illsol, a local husband and wife artist duo, seen near the the rooftop pool of Aloft Tampa Midtown from Sal y Mar Rooftop Bar while Kiana Jamies, 23, left, Natalia Melo, 25, center, and Kenner Rodriguez, 29, right, of Tampa, hang out.
A mural titled "Staycation" by Illsol, a local husband and wife artist duo, seen near the the rooftop pool of Aloft Tampa Midtown from Sal y Mar Rooftop Bar while Kiana Jamies, 23, left, Natalia Melo, 25, center, and Kenner Rodriguez, 29, right, of Tampa, hang out. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
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The Okuda sculpture, titled Ecosystem, depicts a colorfully patterned sea turtle hatching from an egg. Funny characters emerge from a house riding on the turtle’s back. The piece of art will be unveiled today at 5:30 p.m. at Midtown Commons, 3650 Midtown Drive, Tampa.

Haines said it was important for the sculpture to represent Tampa.

Hue Bethune, 52, looks at a sculpture titled "Ecosystem" by Spanish artist Okuda San Miguel as it was being installed, while her son Jaeden Bethune, 10, plays at Midtown Tampa.
Hue Bethune, 52, looks at a sculpture titled "Ecosystem" by Spanish artist Okuda San Miguel as it was being installed, while her son Jaeden Bethune, 10, plays at Midtown Tampa. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]

The Bromley Cos. work with a curator and a team on which artworks will be placed there.

“It was important to have a mix of local art and national artists and international artists to create this sense of wonderment,” Haines said.

Midtown Tampa’s public art program will continue to grow. There are plans to put out calls to artists for a variety of projects, including putting in programmable lighting, adorning walls and adding floating art for the lake.

“We hope it can contribute to the cultural and artistic fabric of Tampa,” Haines said. “And I think with someone like Okuda, who’s world famous, that people will want to visit the Okuda, and maybe will come to Midtown just to visit the art.”