Tampa’s Streetcars Designed to Draw Attention

Streetcar sculptures are displayed on the top deck of the StarShip Yacht during the Streetcar Sculpture Challenge Preview Party in Tampa. Forty-one sculptures were displayed during the event Wednesday. CHRIS URSO/STAFF

TAMPA — Colorful scenes of Tampa Bay, the downtown skyline, a pirate’s map and World War II posters splashed across 41 streetcar sculptures on display at the Yacht StarShip on Wednesday, just days away taking their final perches around the city.

The sculptures, all decorated by local artists, are the latest initiative of the Commercial Real Estate Women, or CREW, and its artLOUD! project. This is the fourth time CREW has undertaken a public art project in the last eight years.

CREW celebrated the completion of the new sculptures with a preview party on the Yacht StarShip on Wednesday evening. The Yacht StarShip’s owner, Troy Manthey, came up with the idea for the project after seeing a similar art display in Clearwater featuring dolphins painted by local artists.

Each of the sculptures is sponsored by a local business or agency.

Many hours and plenty of creativity went into designing and painting the four-foot long streetcars, said Kristin Mora, who spearheaded the undertaking for CREW. “Every single sculpture is so unique. They are everything we hoped for and a lot more.”

The idea behind the project is to highlight the area’s culture and history, Mora said. In this case, the project focuses on the legacy of the street car.

The sculptures will be placed along the streetcar line, at Tampa International Airport, downtown and in the Channelside and Ybor City areas.

Sunday Purselley spent 60 hours painting the Cigar City Brewing offering, flanked on the sides by beer labels and busts of brewery employees and historic figures, including Henry B. Plant peering out the windows.

“The wood roof represents the barrels used at the brewery and this IS Cigar City, so there’s a lit cigar on top. I just wish I had more time to work on it,” Purselley said.

In another area of the ship, Lizzy Agosto showed off the streetcar she painted – and sculpted – for 2 Harbor Place on Harbor Island. The theme is Live, Work and Play and Agosto chose a motif featuring a sculpture of a woman swinging over water on one side, while a fisherman in the streetcar on the other side catches a tarpon, also sculpted from expanded foam.

Agosto said she spent about 50 hours on her piece, then named it Shirley’s Car after her 93-year-old grandmother.

Other Tampa Bay streetcar sponsors include Cushman & Wakefield, a commercial real estate firm, Coppertail Brewing/Pepin Distributing, Tampa Downtown Partnership and the Channelside District Community Redevelopment Area.

Mora said the sculptures will be on public display for one year, then returned to their sponsors.

Story By: Yvette C. Hammett | Tribune Staff

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