Focus: Sarasota’s Public Arts Program


SARASOTA, FLORIDA, September 24, 2019 – The public art program of Sarasota, 30 years since it was established, continues to thrive and bring charm to Sarasota real estate properties, particularly those in and around the city’s downtown area.

Sarasota’s public art program was started in 1989 as part of a beautification program in the city. At present, there are 86 pieces in the city’s public art collection. These artworks are comprised of sculptures, wall murals, and fountains. All were set up to help uplift Sarasota’s image as an arts and culture mecca as well as contribute in building local residents’ emotional connection to the city.

Significantly, no taxpayer dollars are being spent to fund public art in Sarasota. Funding is drawn from the Percent for Art Program wherein developers of certain properties in the city are required to contribute half a percent of their particular building projects’ cost. As an option, these developers can instead install an art piece at their projects’ location.

The Kolter Group is one developer which exercised this latter option. It is putting up a mural titled Flora Urbana on the façade of the mixed-use high-rise condominium The Mark between downtown’s Pineapple and Lemon avenues. This mural is notably being rendered by up-and-coming Miami artist Danny Doya.

Iconic Pieces

The developer of the boutique 332 Cocoanut Avenue in the Rosemary District, Mark Famiglio, has also been reported as planning to buy an iconic Marilyn Monroe sculpture for his condo project. This artwork, Forever Marilyn, was rendered by Seward Johnson who likewise brought the landmark statue Unconditional Surrender to the Sarasota bayfront.

Also in the Rosemary District, a new set of murals has recently been completed on the five-story BOLD Lofts apartment building along 2nd Street. This public art display features the David and Victory renditions of local artist Erik Jones whose drew his inspiration from two sculptures on display at the Ringling Museum of Art.

Roundabouts: Form and Function

The new roundabouts built in Sarasota are likewise adding more pieces to the city’s public art collection. The most recent among these comes in the colored, 16-foot aluminum abstract sculpture installed at the North Palm‒Cocoanut Avenue roundabout northeast of the high-rise condo Marina Tower. This one, titled Jumping Fish was rendered by Jeff Laramore who beat over 140 bidders for this art commission.

It is significant to note that aesthetics isn’t the only reason Sarasota is putting artwork in the city’s roundabouts. Aside from beautification and creating a sense of place, these pieces are also being installed purportedly to help calm vehicular traffic passing around them.

Upcoming Displays

Such experience could be validated in two other downtown roundabouts with artwork. One is the traffic circle at Main Street and Orange Avenue featuring the sculpture titled Embracing Our Differences by S. Blessing Hancock. Onward Orange Avenue to its intersection with Ringling Boulevard, there is another sculpture—Bravo! By Venezuela-born and now Sarasota-based artist Jorge Blanco.

Driving north of downtown on U.S. 41 (Tamiami Trail) will soon unveil two more roundabout artworks. This corridor’s junction with 10th Street is set for a roundabout that would incorporate The Life in Seagrass sculpture by Casto Solano. Next on the U.S. 41 intersection with 14th Street, its roundabout will be host to the Poly sculpture of light-sky-water inspiration from Nancy Hou. Local property developers are paying for these artworks, demonstrating anew one of the innate strengths of the Sarasota public art program.