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Politics

Hidden Tampa artwork might get prominent position


Published:   |   Updated: June 10, 2013 at 03:51 PM

TAMPA - Mayor Bob Buckhorn is exploring his options for relocating "Visual Welcome," a statue by Israeli artist Yaacov Agam that has spent years sitting at the entrance to the parking garage beneath downtown's Kiley Garden.

"We're still pricing out how much it will cost for us to move it and whether or not we can do it internally," the mayor's spokeswoman, Ali Glisson, said last week.

"The mayor would like to move it to a more prominent place for it, but that exact place hasn't been determined yet."

City officials have estimated moving the statue could cost $30,000, Glisson said.

Buckhorn says the Agam statue is his favorite piece of Tampa's public art.

As a young man, Buckhorn helped then-Mayor Sandy Freedman curry favor with Agam, who Freedman said loved windsurfing on Hillsborough Bay.

City Councilwoman Mary Mulhern, an art historian by training, says the Agam may be Tampa's most significant piece of public art.

Freedman collects Agam's art. In 1992, she persuaded Tampa Palms developer Ken Good, also an Agam fan, to loan the city an Agam fountain to stand at the entrance to the new Tampa Convention Center.

Later, then-Mayor Dick Greco returned the fountain when it became too expensive to maintain.

"Visual Welcome," which Agam donated to the city in 1995, is an arrangement of brightly painted metal panels standing parallel on a concrete base. They're painted to create a new pattern from every angle as someone walks around them.

The statue originally stood at the end of Zack Street overlooking the Hillsborough River. It was moved to its current location when then-Mayor Pam Iorio built the Tampa Art Museum and Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park.

The location at the eastern end of Twiggs Street makes the statue all but invisible from Ashley Drive and barely visible from most surrounding locations, including Curtis Hixon.

It frequently shares its location with trash cans, city vehicles and the occasional garbage truck.

Donna Chen, marketing director for the Tampa Downtown Partnership, has a bird's eye view of the statue from her office in nearby Rivergate Tower. She recently said the statute's current location makes its a landmark and meeting location for people going to events at Curtis Hixon.

"I see it every morning, and it puts a smile on my face," Chen said.

kwiatrowski@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7871

Twitter: @kwiatrowskiTBO

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