Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The Wave: Playfully crashing before the blue, cloud-filled sky on Bayshore Boulevard

On Mother’s Day I featured an artwork entitled Family of Man, a sculpture created by the artist Geoffrey Naylor. It is installed just immediately east of Gandy Boulevard in the median of Bayshore Boulevard as part of the City of Tampa Public Art Program. If you take a look at it again, it is a spectacular metal sculpture and Tampa's piercing sun hitting its surfaces has a powerful effect as the light moves through the cracks and around the edges and seams and plays on its polished surfaces. I felt that the subject of family became very clear to me as the artist had intended.

The Wave, another acquisition of the city's Public Art Program within the Arts and Cultural Affairs Department, is an altogether different visual experience. Much more accessible, playful and welcoming, it is located at Bayshore and Rubideaux Street across from Fred Ball Park and the Tampa Garden Club. As you pass it for the first time in a car it does make you look and grin widely as your brain tries to sort out what it is you are seeing. But to enjoy and really appreciate it you must walk around it and literally under and through it as the artist intended. Watch the light as it slides and almost dances over the surfaces and puddles in ringlets on the base below. Scenes of Tampa, of the balustrades along the Bayshore seawall, of the water in the bay, and even Davis Islands, look very different when framed by the Wave. Created by artist Mary Ann Unger (1945 - 1999) and installed in 1989, the Wave is a 15 feet-long by 10 foot high steel arch that to many people strongly resembles a giant Slinky®, the metal, spring-like toy that is known to generations of kids. To be affectionately called the Slinky isn't all bad. It is a term said with a smile and child-like impishness. (Over 300 million have been sold since their introduction in the 1940s, and can probably be found in some office cubicles entertaining big kids.) Unger, best known for her sculptures, received her bachelor's degree from Mount Holyoke College and her Masters Degree in Fine Arts from Columbia University School of the Arts in 1975. She was also the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship. Her artwork is in the collections of the Smithsonian's Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, The Fields Sculpture Garden of the Omi International Arts Center, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. [To see Unger's piece, The Temple, installed in the Sculpture Garden of Lehigh University Art Galleries click HERE.]

The Wave might represent white waves breaking onto a beach, a shell or even the inner ribs of a boat’s hull, but I like having a huge Slinky making its way through the grass of Bayshore's median. Even though it shows no progress during its twenty year "slink," I know it is having a great time entertaining us and making us smile.

10 comments:

James said...

Yep my first thought was giant slinky. That'a coool. :-)

Jacob said...

Slinky was my first thought, also. It's beautiful for sure!

Lois said...

I thought of my old Slinky too when I first saw this Frank! I like it. By the way, I'm posting a couple of my old Tampa pictures on my blog tomorrow. Let me know what you think OK?

Hilda said...

Frank, you have to edit your link to "Family of Man." Right now, it's linked to "Edit post" ;)

Hilda said...

Unlike James, Jacob and Lois, I didn't think of Slinky at first. But I know I liked it at first glance! And the way you described the pooling shadows, I would love to explore this sculpture firsthand.

Frank said...

HILDA - Thank you!

I wonder how many Slinkys could be made from this sculpture? Just kidding.

It really is a great piece that's fun to explore. It's BIG so you can walk around and through it.

Cindy said...

Interesting piece. It's very cool looking. I'd like to see it.

Corker2 said...

A really interesting sculpture. I like it and it really does look like a Slinky.

Vogon Poet said...

Beautiful sculpture (but I think this is not sculpted) and really well placed in that spot on the shore.
Your description is excellent, as always.

Frank said...

Vogen Poet's comment on it being "sculpted" made me wonder what exactly is the definition: "To shape, mold, or fashion especially with artistry or precision." So I guess it was sulpted after all.