Squinting into the late-afternoon sun, New York artist Ilan Averbuch stood before his 30-foot sculpture “The Sun on the EDGE” and paid tribute to the selection committee that “got” what he’d suggested for their Central Avenue traffic roundabout.
“Everybody loved the concept of the sunrise, just coming out of the water,” Averbuch said during Thursday’s dedication ceremony. “I am originally from Tel Aviv, Israel, and that’s a place where we just see the sun set.
“But it’s a kind of a magical moment when the sun meets the water. And think of this – the sun is always in the sky, but the material of this sculpture is of the earth.”
The concrete that forms the rays of Averbuch’s towering sun was repurposed from New York streets and buildings.
And that, pointed out committee member Leslie Curran, is a purposeful nod to the industrial origins of the EDGE District. Not only that, noted the artist and gallery owner, “Central Avenue is one place where you can see the sun rise in the morning, and walk to the very end of Central Avenue and see the sun set at night. So we just thought it was a great addition.”
Several committee members joined Averbuch and Mayor Rick Kriseman for a ceremonial ribbon-cutting and “official” unveiling of the work, for which Averbuch was paid $199,000 from the district’s Intown West Tax Increment Fund.
Kriseman stressed the city’s desire to have public art in every district, not just downtown and the waterfront. “We think it’s important for art to be all over the city of St. Petersburg,” he said. “We’ve seen over 500 murals that have gone up on walls and streets that were once plain and boring, typically grey.”
Following the brief ceremony, EDGE District Association executive director Barbara Voglewede said she’d been looking forward to the unveiling of the Averbuch sculpture. “We have much more to do in the district,” she explained, “but this is a monumental step forward for us. I think it’s just majestic. It’s magical.
“We’ve got a whole lot more projects on the slate. Public art is always going to be part of out District Improvement Plan. We have much more to come.”
“The Sun on the EDGE” is located at Central Avenue and 11th Street.