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Sarasota Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022 3 months ago

See the artwork finalists for the Fruitville Road roundabout

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Final installation is likely more than a year away.
by: Eric Garwood Managing Editor

City leaders this week are expected to recommend an artist as a finalist to create a centerpiece work for the traffic circle at Fruitville Road and Tamiami Trail, though the actual artwork is likely more than a year from adorning the new traffic feature.

At 9 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 27, members of the city’s Public Art Commission will consider three artists and their applications with the goal of selecting one to forward to the City Commission.

The three artists under consideration:

  • Sujim Lim, of Canton, New York
  • Mark Aeling, of St. Petersburg
  • Shan Shan Sheng, of San Francisco

The three artists’ proposals were unveiled at a Tuesday afternoon Zoom session attended by the trio. During the session, the artists presented their works, explained a bit about their experience and their inspiration for their proposals. 

The cost of the final selection will be paid from the city’s public art fund, which is funded by builders and developers in the city through a 0.5 percentage point fee of building value on projects valued at more than $1 million Tax money is not used in the city’s public art program, said Mary Davis Wallace, the city’s senior planner for public art.

Dwell, by Sujim Lim

A general timeline of the project envisions City Commission consideration of the finalist choice in March with further considerations and approvals, including by Florida Department of Transportation, through 2022. Work to actually fabricate the piece could take up to six months, so installation is tentatively expected by summer 2023. 

In her presentation, Lim said her work entitled Dwell drew from a fascination with the nearby sea and the life that lives under its surface. She said the coral look of her proposal connects the underwater habitat with that of bayfront and other nearby dwellings. "Nature has a way to calm our minds and souls,'' she said, adding that its location in a traffic circle might encourage drivers to stop and slow down. 

Her work would be built with a steel supporting frame with an exterior of fiberglass and resin. 

Whorligig, by Mark Aeling

Aeling said he was inspired by the orchids of Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in creating Whorligig. The stainless steel structure would be fabricated in such a way as to take on different appearances, depending on perspective and light. "We get a lot of change in the piece throughout the day as the shadows evolve. Part of Aeling's proposal includes an LED lighting system to illuminate the work at night. He added the stainless steel would be finished in such a way as to avoid distracting reflections.

Open Gate, by Shan Shan Sheng

Sheng's proposal, called Open Gate, is an architectural-glass structure that is designed to "remind us of Sarasota's historic embrace of art, as it continues to beckon artists, musicians, writers and other creatives into its community." Sheng said its glass construction ensures the work "will have two lives, one in the day and one in the night."

The Fruitville Road traffic circle opened to traffic in late 2020 at a cost of $7.47 million. It is one of a series of similar traffic features along Sarasota's bayfront on Tamiami Trail. Circles also recently opened at Boulevard of the Arts and 10th Street. 

Construction is underway on a larger roundabout at Gulfstream Avenue and Tamiami Trail, and the city recently approved a set of transportation priorities for the coming year that emphasize further construction, at Main Street, Ringling Boulevard, Myrtle Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.  

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