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St. Pete Pier’s billowing sculpture rises again

Janet Echelman’s signature public art is being reinstalled this week at the new St. Pete Pier.
Janet Echelman's aerial net sculpture for the new St. Pete Pier, Bending Arc, is back after being sent to Washington state for adjustments. It's being rehung this week in anticipation of the Pier's reopening.
Janet Echelman's aerial net sculpture for the new St. Pete Pier, Bending Arc, is back after being sent to Washington state for adjustments. It's being rehung this week in anticipation of the Pier's reopening. [ MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times ]
Published Jun. 11, 2020

ST. PETERSBURG — The city won’t say exactly when its $92 million, 26-acre Pier District will open, but Mayor Rick Kriseman’s spokesman hints that an announcement is likely not far off.

“We will have an opening date soon,” Benjamin Kirby said Thursday.

The mayor had planned a grand opening for May 30, but that was changed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Related: St. Pete Pier preparing for delayed reveal

Now, though, it appears that the Pier’s most talked about public art could be in place for the new opening date. The work of world-renowned sculptor and Tampa native Janet Echelman is being reinstalled this week. The piece, called Bending Arc, was installed early this year, but had to be taken down and returned to its fabricator in Washington state for adjustments.

The net was returned to St. Petersburg in two shipments this week, Kirby said, with rehanging starting on Wednesday.

“It will take several days to hang it and balance and set the lighting,” he said.

Janet Echelman's aerial net sculpture for the new St. Pete Pier is back after being sent to Washington state for adjustments. It's being rehung this week in St. Petersburg.
Janet Echelman's aerial net sculpture for the new St. Pete Pier is back after being sent to Washington state for adjustments. It's being rehung this week in St. Petersburg. [ MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times ]

Echelman has permanent installations in such places as Porto, Portugal, Vancouver, Canada, and Seattle. The artist, whose studio is in Massachusetts, has a $1.47 million contract with St. Petersburg for her work.

Kriseman raised $1.25 million in private money to pay for the sculpture and another $400,000 to help cover costs for the infrastructure, including the foundation, lighting and four pylons. Additionally, the city allocated $1.3 million in tax increment financing funds for the design and construction of the infrastructure. The Public Art Commission also committed $250,000 to the project.