Art for All: County’s Cultural Showcase Marks 30 Years
Thirty years ago, Hillsborough County launched its Public Art Program. The goal: showcase the region's cultural and artistic diversity.
The works would be in different mediums and fashioned from varied materials. They would be functional, stand alone, or blend into the architecture or landscape of a given site.
Since then, County leaders have commissioned nearly 300 works of art that are in more than 50 locations throughout unincorporated Hillsborough, Tampa, Temple Terrace, and Plant City. They are paintings, sculptures, photographs, and even a quilt. One of the most recent additions is a mural-sized tile mosaic.
Here, in no particular order, are 10 notable displays of Public Art Program works:
The sculpture Veritas Et Justitia by Audrey Flack stands outside the entrance to the George E. Edgecomb Courthouse in downtown Tampa. The design is based on classic Greek sculpture while seeking to project an ideal 21st-century woman.
Harrison Covington's bronze statue of a firefighter and small boy stands outside the Sun City Center Fire Station, 4551 Sun City Center Blvd. The statue depicts a firefighter, wearing his gear and holding a helmet in his right hand. His coat flap shields the boy, as the firefighter leads him to safety.
A colorful photograph of a cowboy herding cattle in Florida pine scrub is inside Seffner Mango Library, 410 N. Kingsway Road. It is one of a collection of images at the library by Hillsborough County photojournalist Carlton Ward, Jr. that depict the state's flora and fauna.
The Jackson Rooming House is portrayed in a Dean Mitchell watercolor at Seminole Heights Library, 4711 N. Central Ave. In its heyday during the Segregation era, the rooming house, built in 1901, hosted noted African-Americans such as Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, Jackie Robinson, Count Basie, Cab Calloway, and James Brown. Among other works, Mitchell designed six U.S. postage stamps depicting jazz musicians.
Tampa native Josette Urso's quilt is inside the Plant City Courthouse at 301 N. Michigan Ave. It showcases the work of 50 of Plant City's needle workers. The quilt features strawberries, armadillos, palm trees, and trains in an exuberant dreamscape.
A memorial to the USCGC Tampa graces an outside wall at Tampa Bay History Museum in downtown Tampa. Carl and Sandra Bryant's mosaic, made of hundreds of colorful tiles, tells how the U.S. Coast Guard ship served on iceberg patrol and participated in Gasparilla celebrations before going to sea as a U.S. Navy vessel. A torpedo sank the ship on Sept. 26, 1918, killing all 115 sailors on board, including 24 Tampa men.
Hillsborough County artist Princess Smith's painting Miah is on display at Seminole Heights Library, 4711 N. Central Ave. It was the first painting installed at the new branch library, and was unveiled during the building's dedication in March 2014.
Bud Lee's photograph, Corn, is at the new Plant City Community Resource Center, 307 N. Michigan Ave. It reflects the late photographer's desire to focus on seldom seen Florida culture, people, and communities.
A 9/11 memorial outside the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, at Eighth Avenue and 20th Street in Ybor City. The statue, a joint project of the Sheriff's Office and Hillsborough County government, conveys the horror and heroism of New Yorkers on Sept. 11, 2001.
The abstract sculpture Night and Day, outside Carrollwood Cultural Center, 4537 Lowell Road, is intended to reflect the full slate of daytime and nighttime classes, clubs, and events at the popular community gathering place. The stainless steel work by Michael Young, installed during the Center's 10th anniversary in 2018, depicts the sun and moon dancing.