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Coming to Tampa International Airport: a giant pink flamingo

The 21-foot-tall sculpture by artist Matthew Mazzotta was one of seven pieces of public art that the airport’s board approved Thursday.
Tampa International Airport will pay $520,000 for “Home,” by artist Matthew Mazzotta, to be placed in the main terminal. (Tampa International Airport) [Tampa International Airport]

TAMPA — Tampa International Airport’s governing board on Thursday approved spending nearly $2.4 million to commission seven more pieces of public art, including a striking 21-foot-tall sculpture of a pink flamingo.

“Great job,” Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said of the art, which also will include a 30-foot tall glass-tile mosaic of a Florida sunset, nature scenes etched on green aluminum panels and an aerial sculpture reminiscent of a coral reef. “Those are fabulous.”

The airport will pay $520,000 for Home, by artist Matthew Mazzotta of Cambridge, Mass., to be installed as what the airport expects to be an iconic centerpiece in its main terminal.

Passers-by will see the hand-sculpted resin and fiberglass flamingo as it dips its head underwater to feed. The airport aims to have it installed near Shoppes at Bayshore this November.

“Unique, quiet, beautiful, kitsch and fun — all at once,” said Robin Nigh, the city of Tampa’s manager of arts and cultural affairs and a member of the airport’s public art committee, which also includes representatives of the University of South Florida and Tampa Museum of Art.

The goal is to give residents and visitors alike a deeper look at the bird whose image is all over Florida, Mazzotta said in his proposal to the airport.

“The exaggerated scale of the flamingo in Home puts the lives of these birds in focus and puts us as humans in awe as they tower above us reminding us that we all share the same home,” he said.

The airport spent $2.2 million during the first phase of its $2 billion expansion, which is designed to accommodate up to 34 million passengers a year, or about 50 percent more than use the airport now. In the second phase of the expansion, it expects to spend another $3.1 million on public art.

Related: Tampa International Airport in the market for $3 million in public art

“We are more than a place that people simply pass through. We are the first and last impression of the Tampa Bay region,” airport chief executive officer Joe Lopano said in a statement. “Public art is critical to creating a sense of place and leaving our guests with a unique and engaging experience.”

A total of 734 artists from the bay area, Florida, the nation and around the world submitted proposals to the airport for this current round of installations.

The other winning artists include:

Tampa International Airport has commissioned this art by Soo Sunny Park. (Tampa International Airport) [Tampa International Airport]

• Soo Sunny Park, of Hanover, N.H., who will produce a $300,000 reflective sculpture to be hung this fall in the atrium of the airport’s new SkyCenter office building.

Tampa International Airport has commissioned this art by Jason Hackenwerth. (Tampa International Airport) [Tampa International Airport]

• Jason Hackenwerth, of St. Petersburg, who is creating a $96,898 hanging sculpture titled Cove, a translucent, moving mobile inspired by a coral reef, for the third and fourth floor of the SkyCenter Atrium. Installation is expected this fall and winter.

Tampa International Airport has commissioned this art by Jason Bruges. (Tampa International Airport) [Tampa International Airport]

• Jason Bruges, of London, England, who is creating a $449,730 mixed media mural titled Cloud Ascent to adorn the east wall of the red vertical circulation building. Bruges will use liquid crystal elements with a light source behind them to create the sense of clouds moving through the space. It is expected to be installed in the spring of 2023.

Tampa International Airport has commissioned this art by Catherine Wagner. (Tampa International Airport) [Tampa International Airport]

• Catherine Wagner, of Oakland, Calif., who is creating a $285,000 mural featuring photos of local plants that are laser-etched onto vivid green anodized aluminum panels, for the northwest wall of the blue vertical circulation building. Installation is expected in the fall 2021.

Tampa International Airport has commissioned this art by Jason Middlebrook. (Tampa International Airport) [Tampa International Airport]

• Jason Middlebrook, of Hudson, N.Y., who is producing a $300,000, 30-foot-tall glass-tile mosaic depicting Florida flora and fauna at sunset, for the northwest wall of the blue vertical circulation building. Installation is expected in August 2021.

Tampa International Airport has commissioned this art by Aaron Stephan. (Tampa International Airport) [Tampa International Airport]

• Aaron Stephan, of Portland, Maine, who created a $440,852 hanging sculpture out of more than 300 handmade wooden ladders titled Paths Rising, for the main terminal helix space between the main terminal and SkyConnect train station. Installation is scheduled for this November.

Airport officials plan to make two more selections in the future.