By LINDA CHION KENNEY
The call is out for a public art project that seeks to recognize, posthumously, the contributions of “Riverview pillars” G.W. Symmes, a physician, and his wife, Lillian, the namesake of Symmes Elementary School in Riverview.
According to the call for artists put forth by the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners, G.W. Symmes was a local doctor and founding member of the Hillsborough County Medical Association. His wife was a respected school teacher.
Artists have until Wednesday, Aug. 5, to submit their designs for a statue to stand in the traffic roundabout at the intersection of Balm Riverview and Symmes roads. The intersection is roughly 5 miles driving distance from Symmes Elementary School, at 6280 Watson Road, adjacent to The Regent and the Winthrop community.
More specifically, the call is out for “three-dimensional artwork for the exterior of a landmark sculpture” for the “future roadway roundabout.” Artists are asked to submit their qualifications and a brief concept statement. They are encouraged as well to provide images and renderings and to utilize “a full range of mediums suitable for an outdoor environment.”
According to design plans, the upcoming roundabout in south Hillsborough County is set to be two lanes and the preference is for the artwork to be centrally located. Completion of the $3.2 million single-lane roundabout is set for 2024, with design and land acquisition completed in early 2023.
At the time of its issuance, the call for artists notes the design plans show a center island with a diameter of approximately 89 feet. Responding artists should include in their design “a plinth that is approximately 6-feet in height, to be designed and constructed in the center island of the roundabout,” and that the sculpture should be “at least life-sized.”
The four-sided plinth is required to include specified engraved words: “Symmes” (on side one), “Dr. G.W. Symmes, trusted physician” (on side two), “Lillian Symmes, beloved educator (on side three) and “Riverview’s Pillars of Education and Medicine” (on side four).
Moreover, the likenesses of Dr. G.W. Symmes and Lillian Symmes are each to be holding an object that references their respective professions. The doctor is to face west-northwest along the Symmes Road corridor; the educator, north toward Symmes Elementary.
Finalists will be selected to provide site-specific proposals, and each finalist is set for a $750 honorarium payment. Hillsborough County commissioners will vote on the final selection.
County officials promote roundabouts for traffic-congested areas, in part due to their contention that roundabouts “have been found to decrease the likelihood of severe or fatal injury crashes.”
There is precedent for such action, as the county has given the go-ahead for public art in traffic roundabouts, including for a sculpture of Riverview founder Benjamin Moody at a roundabout on the books for Riverview Drive, near the upcoming Alafia River Park, about one mile east of I-75.
Artwork of a bicyclist at the intersection of Balm Boyette and Boyette roads, outside the Hawkstone master-planned community in Lithia, is yet another example. In coordination with Hillsborough County officials, the statue is in place, reportedly funded by Hawkstone developer, Homes by WestBay.
The WestBay development is one mile south of the bicycle motocross at Triple Creek BMX and about six and 12 miles, respectively, from Balm-Boyette Scrub Nature Preserve in Wimauma and Alafia River State Park in Lithia, both popular destinations for mountain-bike riders.
For more on the call for artists, visit www.HCFLGov.net.