Friday, January 5, 2018

Flotsam Jetsam and Floating Art

With all that mesh, electrical wire and supporting ropes, large local sea birds in the area could be at risk.

Tuesday Janet Echelman Massachusetts based floating art creator presented images of her $3 million art work, which would “float” over spa beach. Spanning about 390 feet the piece made of mesh and LED lights will be tethered about 15 feet from the ground.

You can get more detail from the Tampa Bay Times, Waveney Ann Moore, What artist Janet Echelman’s Pier District sculpture would look like.

I have thought this is a stupid idea from the beginning. For starters, here are some people and organizations I think should weigh in on Echelman’s 390-foot pelican and seagull catcher.

Ok, the thing is not high enough to be in the flight pattern, but it could be a serious pilot distraction to those landing on the north/south runway as it “undulates slowly” especially if they are new to the Albert Whitted airport. Furthermore, if the thing comes loose, all that flapping around could be a serious problem.

Audubon Society
With all that mesh, electrical wire and supporting ropes, large local sea birds in the area could be at risk.

While it is true, most of our water fowl roost at night that area is a late arrival path for the rookeries up in clam bayou, and the Pier has long been a feeding station for local pelicans.

From the Janet Echelman website:

We get asked questions frequently about the safety of birds and wildlife with respect to our sculptures. No bird or creature has ever been harmed from one of our artworks. Our work goes through a careful review in order to receive legal permits before construction begins. We consulted a bio-engineering firm that explained how the physical qualities of the artwork do not meet the criteria that would endanger birds. Our nets are made of thicker rope with wider net openings than those used to entrap flying birds or other creatures. Our structures are not unlike naturally occurring vines and thickets often found in local forests, and birds are well adapted to avoid these.

Fish and Wild Life Commission
When it inevitably comes down in the Bay, how many fish will be caught up in the rescue effort to “save the art” and who will pay for that? And, what effect will all the light and color have on the marine life.

St. Pete Budget and taxation committee
There is about $3 million in the Pier budget for art that could be used to pay the seemingly ridiculous price for this mesh bag with lights in it, but the bigger question is: how much will the ongoing maintenance cost?

Most assuredly there will be a wind speed and possibly wind direction limit on when this thing can be “displayed” and it will take a group of people to put it up and take it down.

Who will pay for that? Or will it simply lay in its small, expensive but arty building on Spa Beach with a sign “Light Bag Inside” because no one wants to spend the time or the money to put it up and take it down?

The ultimate scenario
It all started as a relatively calm day the 6-man team of Art Wranglers show up at Spa Beach about 7:00AM to erect the now-infamous Pier light sculpture. We are not sure why they put it up the daytime, but that’s the schedule.

Meanwhile the Mayor’s other pet project, the cross-bay ferry is loading up a hundred passengers for a trip across the bay to Tampa.

It is now about 2:00PM. The wind has been gradually rising approaching the “Art Limit” and the call has gone out for the Art Wranglers to return to the beach and secure the light bag err… sculpture.

As the Wranglers are showing up, the ferry departs from the Vinoy basin passing under the art bag just as an unexpected gust of wind snatches the art bag from the Wrangler’s grip, and it floats down to the north east and envelopes the Ferry.

The spacesuit strength fabric wraps around the ferry props, and it begins to slow. The ferry pilot guns the engines the ferry does a hard right, crashes into the Pier causing the slanted park to slowly slide into the bay completely blocking the entrance to the marina.

Even the Farmers Insurance guy says, “You have got to be kidding.”

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