Back to the drawing board

City Rejects Art Slated for Fruitville Road and U.S. 41 Roundabout

City commissioners said they felt “lukewarm” about the coral-like sculpture recommended by the Public Art Committee.

By Kim Doleatto April 19, 2022

Rendering of the public art piece, a large coral, that the Art Committee voted to recommend to the City of Sarasota.

A rendering of Dwell by Sujin Lim. 

Image: Sujin Lim

The Sarasota City Commission yesterday rejected a proposal for a new sculpture resembling coral to be installed in the roundabout at the intersection of Fruitville Road and U.S. 41.

A rendering by Mark Aello of St. Petersburg, who presented an orchid-inspired piece.

A rendering of Whorligig by Mark Aello of St. Petersburg.

Following a call to artists issued last year, the city's public art committee had recommended that the city install South Korean artist Sujim Lim's colorful Dwell. The sculpture was one of three finalists selected from 143 applications submitted by artists around the country. Other finalists included the three-sided, stainless steel, orchid-inspired Whorligig by Mark Aeling of St. Petersburg, and San Francisco-based Shan Shan Sheng's painted-glass sundial concept called Open GateWhen Lim won the public art committee’s recommendation, members praised Dwell for being “playful, colorful and easy to understand.”

But when final approval was needed to move forward with Dwell, some commissioners disagreed. Commissioner Hagen Brody said, "Coral has no relation to the Gulf coast," and that the art "should bear some relation to our region or community."

Commissioners could have voted to use one of the other two artists' works, but arguments against the Whorligig included its potential to attract people who might try to climb its edges.

A rendering of public art for a Sarasota roundabout.

A rendering of Open Gate by Shan Shan Sheng of San Francisco.

Concerns about Open Gate included that its color wouldn't stand out enough against a blue sky. Art committee members argued that the most timely option would be to ask Lim to come up with another concept, but commissioners decided to leave that process up to them.

Criteria for submissions included compatibility with the neighborhood, safety and a message that promotes diversity. The piece must also showcase a range of styles and have little need for maintenance.

There’s a budget of no more than $175,000 for the sculpture, which will be funded by developer contributions to the city’s Public Art Fund. When completed, the piece will become part of the city’s permanent public art collection. There are close to 100 pieces so far.

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