- August 18, 2016
City Parking Manager Mark Lyons is proud of the way the State Street parking garage looks from the outside, but he has one word to describe the interior: blah.
That could change soon. The city is in the process of selecting artwork to adorn the walls of the parking garage, a project that Lyons plans to double as a wayfinding system to help people remember where they left their cars.
“Using public art as wayfinding is an excellent service to the community,” Lyons said. “It gives us a great platform for promoting public art.”
Plans for the artwork are not final, but the city has identified a favored concept. On April 12, the Public Art Committee interviewed five finalists who submitted plans in response to the city’s call for artists. The board praised each artist, and only settled on a recommendation to the City Commission after a series of deadlocks.
The winning concept has a working title of “The Life Aquatic,” according to artist Mark Krucke. The proposal is centered on a series of paintings featuring marine wildlife, including octopuses, manatees and loggerhead sea turtles.
“I chose this direction because we have a shared love of the bay,” Krucke said.
His proposal also includes placing about 200 small jellyfish sculptures within the atriums of the garage. In total, the budgeted cost of the project would be $100,000.
The committee initially narrowed the field down to two proposals. The other, from artist Michael Parker, used neighborhood names as wayfinding tools and painted classical sculptures over gradients on the walls of the garage. Lyons expressed some fear about the city’s ability to maintain the larger scale of that concept, and board member Leslie Butterfield questioned its efficacy as a guide for people parking their cars.
Ultimately, the board agreed on Krucke’s concept. Lyons said the city tried to focus on brighter artwork than what’s in the Palm Avenue parking garage, hoping to create a sense of excitement for people using the State Street facility. The board expressed optimism the aquatic artwork would accomplish that goal.
“Knowing what we want, I thought it made sense in almost any place in Sarasota,” said Public Art Committee board member Norman Schimmel. “I think it’s terrific.”
The committee will present its recommendation to the City Commission in May, at which point the commission will make the final decision on the artwork in the garage. The project is scheduled for completion before the end of the year.