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Art advisory board selects Dwell for Fruitville Road roundabout

Artwork was among three finalists considered for City Commission action.

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  • | 2:21 p.m. January 27, 2022
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An artist’s nod to the wonders of the nearby sea will be forwarded to city commissioners as an advisory panel’s recommendation to adorn the traffic circle at Fruitville Road and Tamiami Trail.

Dwell, a colorful take on underwater coral from artist Sujin Lim, was the unanimous choice of the city’s Public Art Committee on Thursday to move ahead to consideration for final approval. City Commission members will weigh the recommendation as early as March with the power to accept or reject it.

Mark Aeling's Whorligig
Mark Aeling's Whorligig

Committee members moved the Canton, New York-based artist's proposal forward with the provision the city, the artist and the Florida Department of Transportation confer to possibly to upsize the artwork laterally to more fully occupy the traffic-circle center space without exceeding a 20-foot height cap imposed by the state.

“It’s likable and kind of lovable," said board member Leslie Butterfield. “It’s a very hopeful thing. It speaks to what our environment hopes to be."

Dwell was among three finalists considered by the board for recommendation.

Whorligig, a stainless steel representation of three orchids by St. Petersburg artist Mark Aeling, and Open Gate, a blue stylized archway made of architectural glass over a steel structure by Shan Shan Sheng of San Francisco, were the others.

The selected piece is estimated to cost $175,000 from the city’s public art fund, which is financed not through tax revenue but rather via a 0.5% fee on developments and buildings over $1 million. Money for Dwell is coming from fees paid by the adjacent Quay multi-use complex under construction on the bayfront. 

Included in the price is a 12% artist fee.

Shan Shan Sheng's Open Gate.
Shan Shan Sheng's Open Gate.

Lim told board members she was inspired by the proximity of the bay and gulf and what lies beneath its surface, acknowledging the undersea world was a place for living things to dwell as much as Sarasota was a booming residential destination.

She said she also was struck by the level of activity in and around the roundabout site, saying her work might help people to “slow down, be calm and remember the unique beauty of Sarasota.’’

Board members said they liked all three finalists but in the end thought Lim's work best illustrated the local environment and that it fit well into the city's collection of public art. "The colors are on point with the area,'' board member Jonathan Parks said. 

Fabrication and transportation of the fiberglass and resin artwork would take about five months, with another 10 days of onsite installation, according to Lim’s proposal. City officials said a general timeline of the project envisions City Commission consideration in March with further considerations and approvals, including by Florida Department of Transportation, through 2022.   

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.

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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