Drivers and sidewalk-goers in downtown St. Petersburg have likely speculated about the 30-foot, stone sun sculpture that shrinks surrounding buildings and its platform, a roundabout in the city’s bustling EDGE district.
New York-based and Isreali-born sculptor, Ilan Averbuch, created the massive, gear-like fixture for the otherwise-normal roundabout at Central Avenue at 11th Street.
Averbuch, one of 94 creators who applied to create on the space, calls the sculpture an ode to Florida weather, titled “The Sun on the EDGE.” The piece was completed in June, with a city-led ribbon cutting on Thursday, July 15.
Towering on the EDGE
The industrial, almost primitive statue of a sunset, bottomed with a darkened granite and steel partial reflection, gives those passing through Central no choice but to circle the sun.
The head-turning aspect is exactly what Averbuch wanted.
“It’s wonderful to be in the center of town where all the traffic has to slowly make their way around,” Averbuch said. “It’s sort of like a stage.”
The stone sun’s price tag sits at nearly $200k, pulled from the Intown West CRA tax increment funds approved for streetscape improvements.
“Based on this incredible piece of artwork, and on the social media comments, it’s been a tremendous success really in doing what art does best – it sparks conversation,” Krisman said of Averbuch’s work.
Additions like Averbuch’s towering sunset piece are part of the city’s plan to expand culture and public art in less colorful areas.
“It’s important for art to be all over the city of St. Petersburg, not just the waterfront or the heart of downtown,” said Krisman at the official dedication on Thursday.
Created by Cranes
How did Averbuch create such a massive art piece in the middle of a traffic hotspot?
The installation consists of more than 40 tons of stones, each one weighing from 1,500 to 1,700 pounds, held together in four points with a metal interior.
The sculpture was welded and finally raised with a crane, with temporary lane closures to get the job done.
“I work with stone; I work with this form often,” Averbunch said. “There is a magical moment involved.”