Above photo: A rendering depicting the $3 million floating sculpture that will be part of the new pier district if it is installed. Courtesy of Studio Echelman
By Anna Bryson
Editor’s Note: This is a work of fiction and is meant to be read as satire. Names, characters and quotes are all fabricated. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Palm trees, soft breeze, gentle seas.
Soothe the soul with directionless strolls by industrial poles…that are suspending a 350-foot-span, brightly colored, LED-lit sculpture.
This could be the new view of St. Petersburg’s Spa Beach.
A $3 million budget for the sculpture was presented to city arts leaders in early January.
Local resident Sam Sammerson said about Spa Beach, “It just looks a little too… natural. I get bored of just seeing the simple beauty of Tampa Bay. I think something massive and man-made would really give the waterfront that artificial touch it needs.”
City arts leaders, who are totally all working artists with an understanding of the needs of working artists in St. Petersburg and none of which are business people, say the sculpture is a great artistic compliment to the sewage in the bay.
Under mayor Brick Friesman, the city dumped nearly 200 million gallons of waste from 2015-16 into Tampa Bay.
City leaders reiterate that in order for St. Petersburg to truly be a town where local artists can thrive, residents need to appreciate abstract works of art like the sewage crisis.
“The people who live here just don’t really ‘get’ avant-garde stuff. We need more rich tourists here who, like, really appreciate art,” said city arts leader Susan Bankerford.
The man-made intrusion into nature is an artistic aspect present in both works—the sculpture and the sewage crisis—that really connects them on a spiritual level.
“The perfect accent to the millions of gallons of sewage I dumped into the bay is this sculpture. Wait, are you recording this? I mean, the sewage that mysteriously got dumped into the bay,” Friesman said.
Because Friesman cares so much about the artists that made St. Petersburg the “art town” that garnered national attention, he is sticking strongly to his plan to ensure that local artists can’t afford to work in the same places that they help generate tourism.
After all, nothing says “we care about our local artists” like a $3 million sculpture commissioned to an artist from outside the city.
This potential sculpture follows on the heels of other efforts to gentrify the city’s arts scene, such as RAIN mural festival, St. Petersburg’s favorite showcase of monstrous wealth.
The artist commissioned to do the sculpture is from the Tampa area, which worried city leaders at first, but since the artist has not lived or worked here for a long time, she is not truly a local artist.
City officials hope that the massiveness of the sculpture will serve as a distraction from other issues.
“People just won’t stop talking about St. Petersburg having some of the worst rated school in Pinellas county and other silly things like the deeply flawed sewage system. We were thinking that this sculpture is just so big that people will forget about all the other problems,” said city leader Blake Blakenson.
Most of the funding so far has come from undisclosed private donors; the city’s favorite resource.
Local artists have voiced extremely positive feedback.
“We love having huge opportunities given to artists from outside the community,” said local artist Michael Angelo.
Although most people in St. Petersburg are in support of gentrification, giving huge opportunities to artists outside the community and detraction from natural beauty, there will always be a few critics.
Friesman responded to the critics by reminding them that the sculpture will likely not be permanent, considering St. Petersburg’s location on the water.