Giant pink flamingo greets Tampa travelers

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Tampa International Airport now has its own iconic centerpiece – a 21ft (6.4m) pink flamingo that will greet visitors passing through the airport’s main terminal. The larger-than-life sculpture is one of seven new art commissions approved by the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority Board as part of a public art program.

‘Home,’ by Matthew Mazzotta, is a massive floor-to-ceiling sculpture featuring a hand-sculpted resin and fiberglass flamingo gently dipping its head beneath the surface of the water. The immersive installation, near the Shoppes at Bayshore, invites travelers to walk up and share a simple moment in the life of one of Florida’s best-known birds.

“I think we will find that Home is aptly named as it will evoke a sense of place,” said Robin Nigh, the City of Tampa’s manager of arts and cultural affairs and a member of the airport’s Public Art Committee. “The artwork should provide a visual respite, a sense of home for returning travelers and a sense of arrival for visitors. It is unique, quiet, beautiful, kitsch and fun all at once. Home will carry the meaning of what individuals bring to it, very much like one’s ‘real’ home.”

Tampa Airport’s public art program aims to transform and enhance the experience of millions of guests each and every year.

By Catherine Wagner

“We are more than a place that people simply pass through – we are the first and last impression of the Tampa Bay region,” said Airport CEO Joe Lopano. “Public art is critical to creating a sense of place and leaving our guests with a unique and engaging experience.”The seven art commissions approved by the Board were selected from 734 respondents, including many local, national and international artists. Select artists were then shortlisted and invited to submit a proposal for a specific location. The Public Art Committee then presented its final recommendations to the Board. Two additional commissions will be considered by the Board at a later date.

Florida Sunset (working title) by Jason Middlebrook

The other winning artists include: Soo Sunny Park, who will produce a hanging sculpture in the new SkyCenter atrium; Jason Hackenwerth, who is creating a hanging sculpture entitled Cove for the third and fourth floor of the SkyCenter Atrium; Jason Bruges, who is creating a mixed media mural entitled Cloud Ascent for the east wall of the red vertical circulation building; and Catherine Wagner, who is creating a large mural featuring photos that are laser-etched onto anodized aluminum panels, for the northwest wall of the blue vertical circulation building.

Jason Middlebrook is producing a mural featuring a composition of local flora and fauna, for the northwest wall of the blue vertical circulation building, while Aaron Stephan’s hanging sculpture made out of ladders, ‘Paths Rising,’ will be on display in the helix space between the main terminal and SkyConnect station.


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Tara has worked for UKi Media & Events since 2013, initially as a freelancer. She has been a journalist for over a decade and has worked for a range of publications, including Personnel Today, Management Today and The Grocer.

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