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Tampa artist looks to enhance proposed green trail

Susan Gott owns Phoenix Glass Studios in Seminole Heights.
Susan Gott owns Phoenix Glass Studios in Seminole Heights.
Published Apr. 2, 2015

SEMINOLE HEIGHTS — A long-planned Tampa trail has yet to be completed, but it now has its first proposed piece of art.

Glass artist Susan Gott won this year's Carolyn F. Heller Grant, which she said she will use to create terrazzo and glass art benches for Green ARTery, a planned 22-mile perimeter trail connecting 22 Tampa neighborhoods.

Gott, who owns Phoenix Glass Studios in Seminole Heights, said she envisions the benches as something passengers on the trail can both sit on and admire as art.

"They're functional, but they'll tie some element of nature or the park or the Green ARTery trail to the sculpture, the bench, and the decorative element of the glass will do the same," she said.

Gott said the plan is to construct three benches along the trail, with potential locations including the Seminole Heights-based Rivercrest Park and Ignacio Haya Linear Park.

The grant will help pay for the cost of the glass and labor of her studio assistants, she said. Steward-Mellon Co. will help with the cost of materials and labor for the terrazzo, which the benches will be made with.

"Terrazzo can have stone and shell and glass, and in this case it's going to have art glass, incorporated into concrete, and the concrete can have a shape," Gott said.

As a possible example, she brought up a babbling brook in Rivercrest Park, which she said reminds her of the state's springs and Florida imagery like manatees and mermaids.

"So if you can imagine the bench in the shape of a mermaid or a manatee, then those glass pieces would be embedded into the surface, so it might have a green mermaid tail with these shimmering glass scales," she said.

Green ARTery co-founder Myron Griffin said he held a meeting with city of Tampa public art manager Robin Nigh and local artists, including Gott, discussing possible public art ideas on the perimeter trail.

"I think that was the spark that got her asking herself what could she do along the trail in the way of public art, and she came up with the bench concept," he said.

For now, Griffin said, their goal is to get the trail started and build public support, with hopes of having a continuous trail by 2020.

Gott said Atlanta's BeltLine trail, and their Art on the Atlanta BeltLine public art exhibition, provides an example of what the Green ARTery trail could mean for Tampa.

"It ties all those communities together, and we need more of that in Tampa," she said.