What most would describe as a drab, five-story concrete wall facing a nondescript expressway off-ramp struck Ray King as the perfect backdrop for his next large-scale art installation.
Today the noted sculptor’s three-dimensional collection of colorful glass disks loosely arranged in a vertical configuration create a distinctive signature element for a new luxury residential community and a new artistic landmark for downtown Tampa.
Responding to a call to artists for original art that would be prominently, and publicly, displayed at Aurora, a $67 million apartment complex at 124 S. Morgan St., King submitted both a description and desired location for the concept he wanted to create.
Inspiration came to King when he initially checked out the site and literally saw the light. Known worldwide for light responsive sculptures, King observed how natural sunlight swept across the site and watched shadows formed and faded away.
Integrating natural illumination was key to the concept that earned King the coveted commission. When light strikes, rainbow-like emanations re-arrange and change as the viewer moves or lighting shifts, according to the artist.
“The sun is my partner and Florida has tremendous sunlight,” said the Philadelphia resident responsible for The Aurora Lens.
“Essentially this is a lens that interacts with the sun. And this big blank wall was the perfect stage for this installation.”
King, who initially worked with stained glass in the 1970s, was awarded a grant that enabled him to travel to England to learn from Patrick Reyntiens, considered to be the leading practitioner of stained glass in that country.
“He was a big influence in terms of supporting me and provoking me to do dynamic works. He
helped me to trust my ideas, evolve and start new work,” King said.
Today King’s high-tech structures sculpt light while forms found in nature influence the shapes and patterns he creates.
“Tampa is blessed to be so close to the Gulf of Mexico. I looked at fish in the Gulf. The dot patterns on their scales were an inspiration. The discs appear silvery when it is not sunny. They also resemble aquatic bubbles in the water that relate to the fish,” he said.
The 351-apartment development by Richman Signature Properties now joins other recent high profile projects showcasing King’s handiwork that include Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C. and Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg as well as galleries, museums and private collections worldwide.
“The art installation at Aurora is a first for Richman Signature Properties and a trend we are certainly considering for other markets,” said Kristin Miller, president of the Richman Group, the seventh largest owner of residential apartments in the U.S. Dedicated to creating distinctive properties that cater to, and support, healthy, creative and social lifestyles, Miller said King’s approach to bringing site-specific art to communities made him the perfect partner for Aurora.
“This custom art installation enhances the downtown Tampa skyline, giving our property a signature look that differentiates it from other luxury buildings in the area and embodies the spirit of individuality that we know today’s residents seek.”
In addition to the one-of-a-kind artwork, Aurora provides amenities that include a 2,400-square-foot fitness center outfitted with TRX equipment and a yoga/spin studio. Upon move-in, residents may utilize complimentary professional services provided by a team of Laurel & Wolf-certified interior designers.
“Public art on residential buildings is part of a larger trend of emphasizing individuality and bringing condominium-style amenities to rental properties. Richman Signature Properties focuses on creativity outside and in, and that’s why we also grant greater freedom on design and décor choices” Miller added.