Two artists. Two works of public art. Two attempts at whimsy.
The public sculptures proposed for two major Gardens developments met with the approval of the city council on Thursday but ultimately it will be for residents to judge.
Heading for a prominent spot along Donald Ross Road outside the Alton Town Center is Tekno by Alexander Krivosheiw, a New York-born artist with a studio in Palm Beach.
In the mall area south of the courtyard at Downtown Palm Beach Gardens, six stainless steel dandelions dubbed The Blooms will sprout by Norwegian-born Chicago artist Dan Shaughnessy IV.
The sculptures will be paid for with money set aside by the developers for the city’s art in public places program.
Krivosheiw’s Tekno, 22-feet long by 11-feet high and 14-feet deep, is a splatter of rounded angles thrust in all directions like the wingspan of an exotic red-and-white bird. It’s made from quarter-inch aluminum.
Krivosheiw explained to the council his inspiration: “Coming out of these tumultuous times, you know with the pandemic, I wanted to have sort of a celebration of being able to survive through this. And celebration of dance and something exciting, something that aesthetically catches your eye differently from what you normally see in public. And something with a little humor, a little fun. You know, I was trying to remain positive.”
In a statement, the artist said he named it for techno music that represents “dancing with the ability to be free.”
Alex Brock, representing the developer of the town center east of Interstate 95 at Donald Ross, said it will be lighted by LEDs from inside-out “so it kind of glows at night instead of being lit from the outside.”
Alton already has four sculptures by Krivosheiw, three along Whitman Street in the fast-rising community where streets are named for writers, and a fourth in the central plaza. Additionally, swirling DNA strands by Miami artist Amanda Valdes form the panels of a mural in the town center courtyard next to the Moon Thai restaurant.
Tekno may be whimsical but it comes with a hefty price tag. It will cost about $150,000, blowing the Alton art budget of $487,000 by about $75,000. The money comes from the developer, representing 1 percent of the total construction cost.
It hasn’t been built yet and is expected to be installed by October 2022.
For Downtown Palm Beach Gardens, just west of the Gardens Mall, The Blooms will fit onto a block-long stretch currently blocked off for construction.
The ball-shaped stainless steel flowers on long stems, standing 13 to 15 feet tall, will “pulsate through a variety of breathtaking colors” based on the movement of shoppers below.
Each flower is equipped with two motion sensors and LED lighting that can be programmed via Bluetooth.
In a statement, artist Shaughnessy described the idea behind The Blooms as “to design a whimsical piece that was as captivating during the day as it is at night.”
The works, which will be installed by May, cost $209,583, consuming all but $58,700 of the art budget provided by developer Shopcore Properties. Three will go on the north side of the block closest to the courtyard where bands play on Saturday nights, and three will go on the south end of that same block.
Shopcore is building a 116,000-square-foot health club and a 426-space parking garage on the north side of the property along Gardens Parkway while it also rips up the three-block shopping and dining section, known as The Strand, for an overhaul. Until late 2019, the center just east of Alternate A1A was known as Downtown at the Gardens.
While Councilman Mark Marciano told the Tekno artist that “I don’t particularly love this piece,” he favored The Blooms and no other piece met with criticism from the remaining three council members present: newly named Mayor Rachelle Litt, newly named Vice Mayor Chelsea Reed and newly seated member Marcie Tinsley. Carl Woods did not attend the meeting, which due to technical problems had audio but no video online.
© 2021 Joel Engelhardt. All rights reserved.