TAMPA — A bell rings at the carnival when you swing the mallet down hard enough on the iconic High-Striker game.
If that impresses the crowd, imagine this: Instead of a bell, you light up the Tampa skyline.
That’s the idea behind one of seven art installations coming Feb. 20-21 to “Lights on Tampa 2015,” the annual light-as-art festival that first graced downtown in 2006.
With “Sky Striker,” you can test your strength by banging a pad at Kiley Gardens and watching rings of light rise clear up the sides of adjacent Rivergate Tower — the cylindrical skyscraper also known as the Beer Can Building.
The harder you swing, the higher the lights rise on the 32-story building, impressing onlookers as far away as the University of Tampa campus and motorists on the Leroy Selmon Crosstown Expressway.
“Lights on Tampa is a signature festival for Tampa, and the 2015 event is going to be bigger and better,” Mayor Bob Buckhorn said in a news release Wednesday. “Internationally acclaimed artists are going to light up Tampa and make our city shine that much brighter.”
Artwork chosen for Lights on Tampa 2015 emphasizes the interactive, making use of technology, music, dance, and the literary arts. A public-private partnership, the event is developed by the City of Tampa Art Programs Division and paid for by regional business sponsors and grant funding. Contributions still are being sought.
The festival comes once a year but has left behind permanent light installations paid for with $2.5 million in private money, including the colors that flood the bridges at night crossing the Hillsborough River.
At the next festival, if you want to shine with brains over brawn, skip the Sky Striker game and take your chances on an attraction called UpLit. Submit an original phrase that captures how we live in Tampa and what it means — then see it temporarily displayed on a vintage rooftop-style sign.
A panel of local jurors led by Tampa author Tim Dorsey will make the winning UpLit selections. Entries are limited to 75 characters, inlcuding punctuation, and must be submitted online by Oct. 24 at tampagov.net/UpLit.
Here are all seven of the works chosen for the festival:
♦ Sky Striker by Traction Architecture of Tampa, described as “an interactive urban experience that transforms Tampa’s iconic Rivergate Tower into a giant carnival game.”
♦ HEARD, FL by Nick Cave of Chicago, 30 colorful life-size horses and a choreographed performance at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park.
♦ Glowing River by Wannemacher Jensen Architects of St. Petersburg a motion activated display under the Hillsborough River at the Kennedy section of the River Walk.
♦ Recurrence by Luftwerk of Chicago, a grid of lights flowing in rhythm with the rides of the river at Kiley Gardens.
♦ UpLit, artist-writer to be determined, featuring the written word in lights, at Northwest corner of Kiley Garden.
♦ Urban Pixels by The Urban Conga of Tampa, a moveable kit of parts encouraging interaction and play.
Shadow Plays, which debuted at Lights On Tampa 2011, a unique interactive stage platform featuring music and dance.