1. News

Mayor Kriseman: Donors will bring Echelman sculpture to St. Pete

A conceptual drawing of the Janet Echelman sculpture proposed for the Pier District project on Spa Beach. [Courtesy of Janet Echelman, Inc.]
A conceptual drawing of the Janet Echelman sculpture proposed for the Pier District project on Spa Beach. [Courtesy of Janet Echelman, Inc.]
Published Jul. 6, 2018

ST. PETERSBURG — It appears the city will get to brag about its very own Janet Echelman sculpture after all.

Mayor Rick Kriseman has raised $1.5 million private donations to install a piece by the internationally acclaimed artist on the St. Petersburg waterfront.

Mayoral spokesman Ben Kirby said "a total of 14 contacts" have promised money for the Echelman sculpture, viewed as the signature piece of art for the $76 million Pier District currently under construction. Kirby explained that some of the "contacts" are groups of people who came together to bundle their donations.

He said Kriseman "is currently reaching back to those who have made a financial commitment" and is not ready to release the official list of those who have pledged money to bring one of Echelman's famous billowing sculptures to the city.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Fundraising effort for Echelman art at Pier faces ticking clock

The private money raised by Kriseman clears an important hurdle for the $2.8 million public art project. The city had already set aside $1.3 million in public funds to build the infrastructure, including towering poles to support the aerial net sculpture planned for the northern end of Spa Beach. The Public Arts Commission is also contributing $250,000.

The City Council will be asked at next week's July 12 meeting to approve a $1.5 million contract — the amount raised by Kriseman — with the artist for design development, fabrication, delivery, aesthetic direction for installation, and warranty for the sculpture.

The proposed agreement calls for Echelman to start building the net sculpture by Nov. 1 and to deliver it to the city by July 30, 2019.

In an email, Echelman said it is "great news to learn of the generosity of private donors who are making this public artwork possible."

For Kriseman, the acquisition of an Echelman piece will be the realization of a much-desired goal. In fall 2016, he presented the key to the city to the Tampa native at the Tampa Bay Businesses for Culture and the Arts Impact Awards dinner. At the time, it was noted that Echelman's work had been installed in 37 cities on four continents. "And St. Petersburg hopes to be No. 38," Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin said then.

More recently, the push to acquire one of the artist's soaring sculptures, which have been installed in such places as the Cidade Salvador Plaza in Porto, Portugal, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Seattle campus has been backed by a small, influential group.

Premier Eye Care CEO Lorna Taylor, former Florida House Speaker Peter Wallace and his wife, St. Petersburg Poet Laureate Helen Pruitt Wallace, have been among the project's boosters.

"I believe in supporting public art of this caliber that is accessible to everyone," Taylor, who acknowledged being one of the donors, said in a text message to the Tampa Bay Times.

"Apart from museums, which serve an essential role in our community, the physical and financial accessibility of public art offers everyone — including those who may not feel welcome, entitled, or cannot afford entrance fees — the opportunity to enjoy the fullest cultural experiences."

B2 Communications principal Kyle Parks, who has been working with members of the group to promote Echelman's work to city residents, said they are "definitely thrilled" that the public money has been raised.

"It shows the level of support for this project around the city, which we have also been seeing in other ways, from people who we have been talking to, and people telling us they have been sending emails to the mayor and the City Council," Parks said.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Parks Foundation opposes Echelman sculpture on Spa Beach

But the project may have to overcome another obstacle. The Waterfront Parks Foundation, whose mission includes protecting the city's downtown waterfront parks, opposes putting the Echelman sculpture on Spa Beach. Members of the group — which outlined its objections in a lengthy email to Kriseman and the council — are expected to further express their opposition at Thursday's meeting.

"We feel that it is in the hands of the council now to decide whether parkland should be used for this sculpture," said foundation president Phil Graham Jr.

"It will remain there for 20 to 25 years and we're just afraid that the daytime appearance, with its structural poles, will not be attractive. In fact, in my estimation, it will detract from our amazing waterfront views."

Meanwhile, Echelman, who is based in Boston, said she is looking forward "to the day when residents and visitors alike can lie down on the grass underneath my sculpture on the St. Pete waterfront and watch the changing patterns of wind ripple across it."

Contact Waveney Ann Moore at or (727) 892-2283. Follow @wmooretimes.


  1. FILE - In this Dec. 14, 2009 file photo, Frank Knight, 101, of Yarmouth, Maine, stands in front of an elm tree known as "Herbie" in Yarmouth. Knight took care of the tree for about 50 years while working as the Yarmouth tree warden. The tree, estimated to be 217 years old, was cut down Jan. 19, 2010 after suffering numerous bouts of Dutch elm disease. "Herbie" may be gone, but he'll live on in cloned trees that are now being made available to the public. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File) [STEVEN SENNE  |  AP]
    What was once a 213-year-old tree will now be available for purchase — in the form of thousands of cloned versions of the tree once named ‘Herbie.’
  2. Tampa Premium Outlets, 2300 Grand Cypress Drive. The area’s newest outlet is touting the shop tax free weekend and extra savings on top of already reduced prices.
    Deputies are searching for a suspect. There is no public safety threat.
  3. A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Monday, Nov. 11, 2019, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. SpaceX launched 60 mini satellites Monday, the second batch of an orbiting network meant to provide global internet coverage. (Craig Bailey/Florida Today via AP) [CRAIG BAILEY/FLORIDA TODAY  |  AP]
    No one was aboard for the wild ride in the skies above Cape Canaveral, just two mannequins.
  4. social card for breaking news in crime, for web only
    The driver lost control and crashed into an overpass wall.
  5. social card for breaking news in crime, for web only
    The woman called a second man for help, who shot the man, according to authorities.
  6. The Stewart Detention Center is seen through the front gate, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019, in Lumpkin, Ga. The rural town is about 140 miles southwest of Atlanta and next to the Georgia-Alabama state line. The town’s 1,172 residents are outnumbered by the roughly 1,650 male detainees that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said were being held in the detention center in late November. (AP Photo/David Goldman) [DAVID GOLDMAN  |  AP]
    The Associated Press sent journalists throughout the country to immigration court.
  7. Mike Bishop joins Pasco EDC staff. [Pasco EDC]
    News and notes on Pasco businesses
  8. Hernando County community news [Tara McCarty]
    News and notes on Hernando businesses
  9. Ed Turanchik is a lawyer and former Hillsborough County commissioner. [Times (2016)]
    Politico Ed Turanchik is warned for lobbying about the MacDill ferry after his status as a consultant ended.
  10. Jack Pearcy, left, and James Dailey, right, as they appeared when they each entered Florida's prison system in 1987. Both men were convicted of taking part in the murder of 14-year-old Shelly Boggio in Pinellas County. Pearcy got a life sentence. Dailey got the death penalty. Dailey's lawyers have argued that Pearcy is solely responsible for the crime. [Florida Department of Corrections]
    The case of James Dailey, facing a death sentence for the 1985 Pinellas County murder of a 14-year-old girl, is full of contradiction, ambiguity and doubt. Court records tell the terrible story.