Transportation by George Grey Barnard
This tribute to Henry B. Plant is believed to be the oldest piece of public art in Tampa. Commissioned in 1900 by Plant’s wife, Margaret, the sculpture pays homage to Plant’s role in connecting the city to the rest of the country and world via railroad and steamship. The male figure (at right) holds a train engine, while the female (at left) holds a ship; the center of the sculpture is a stern, held up by an eagle with a treasure chest in its talons. This eagle was the logo of the Southern Express Company, the first company Plant founded.
Find it: Henry B. Plant Museum | 401 W. Kennedy Blvd. | Tampa, FL 33606
Tampa Postcard by Carl Cowden III
Originally commissioned in 2003 and repainted in 2012, the Tampa Postcard mural has become one of the city’s most recognizable pieces of public art and helped kick off Tampa’s current mural boom. Over a historic depiction of the city’s skyline, each letter is filled with an iconic Tampa image: the Sulphur Springs water tower, the Gasparilla invasion, the University of Tampa’s minarets, Ybor City’s trolley and children fishing on the Hillsborough River. “…I searched state and local archives for images that would work contextually and compositionally and supplemented them with original compositions for the project,” Cowden said in his artist statement. “My experience from advertising and sign painting, coupled with an early influence from Art Nouveau poster [art], and a love of the natural environment, allows me to work well with the formal challenges of successfully resolving issues of subject and scale.”
Find it: Florida Avenue and Royal Street | Tampa, FL 33602
Ode to the Tampa Laborer by Sonya Ishii and Jim Hirschfield
In 2002, the city of Tampa commissioned artwork to give each of the TECO Line Streetcar stations its own identity. Ode to the Tampa Laborer is made up of multiple pieces (including a wooden chair, a shipping cart used to move cargo, and a citrus crate) that honor the mostly immigrant workers who helped create Tampa’s identity. The chair is a replica of what cigar factory workers would use, engraved with poetry in Spanish, Italian and English to echo what the workers would hear on the factory floor from the lector, or reader. The cart, or stevedore, is located at a Channelside Drive station and is reminiscent of the carts longshoremen would use to move cargo (like citrus) on and off ships in the nearby port. All of the pieces are functional and can be used as seating.
Find it: Amalie Arena TECO Line Streetcar Station | Beneficial Drive & Channelside Drive | Tampa, FL 33602
Centennial Park TECO Line Streetcar Station | 20th Street & 8th Avenue Tampa, FL 33605
Form of Wander by Marc Fornes
This aluminum sculpture is one of Tampa’s newest major pieces of public art, commissioned by the county for the revamped Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park. Installed in fall 2018, the canopy is intended to resemble an inverted mangrove and, when seen from across the river, appears to float above the water. Artist Marc Fornes considered the path of the Florida sun in his planning. He used six different shades of green to make up a gradient that interacts with the light as it changes throughout the day. “Somewhere between the natural and the iconic, the piece is identifiable on the riverfront, regardless of the direction of approach, but emphasizes the greenery to be found on the newly opened Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park,” Fornes said in his description of the project.
Find it: 1001 N. Boulevard | Tampa, FL 33606