Buzz Worthy

Playful art competes for Village prize

All artists have a story behind why they create the things they do.

With that in mind, I heard interesting perspectives from the three finalists who were in the running for downtown Bradenton’s first public art piece, which will serve as the gateway to the Village of the Arts. The finalists presented their ideas to the city’s Downtown Development Authority’s Public Art Selection Panel last week.

Coming in with an outsider’s point of view, they were inspired by the community spirit of the Village, its playfulness and colorful ascetics.

Catherine Woods of St. Petersburg, whose work was chosen by the panel, said the neighborhood’s jeweled-tone galleries and shops inspired her to create a 16-foot tall colorful, winged piece.

“Art wings,” she called them.

The Madison, Wis.-based Actual Size Artworks company, headed by Gail Simpson and Aristotle Georgiades (yes, his name is really Aristotle), said it was both the colors and the sense of community within the Village that inspired them.

Their installation project, which they dubbed “The Sum of Its Parts,” featured a 10-foot-tall arch made of different pastel-colored columns stacked on top of each other. The columns are similar to those seen on the galleries of the Village. Simpson said columns have represented strength for generations. In this case, the strength of a neighborhood.

The piece had a Dr. Seuss-like look to it. But, mind you, Simpson and Georgiades’ purpose was to also reflect the trademark whimsicalness of the community.

The other finalist, ShinGray Studios in Los Angeles, proposed “Gateway.” ShinGray’s Todd Gray said the playfulness represented in the Village fueled the idea behind his artistic structure — an 8.5- to 17-foot tall bridge made of yellow and blue tubing crossing from one side of the street to the other. The catch was the top part of the bridge would be unfinished so that the viewer could use his or her imagination to fill in the blank space.

In the end, the panel chose something that reflected the Village’s future as well as its present, which I found commendable. It’s interesting to think of what the Village will be like in the future.

Will it grow in size and sophistication? For my vintage point, the possibilities and inspirations are endless.