Museum debris may turn into art

An artist is gathering items as the building is being demolished.

By Janet Zink, Times Staff Writer
Published February 12, 2008

TAMPA - The mess left by bulldozers ripping apart the Tampa Museum of Art may look like rubble to the casual observer.

Sculptor Rocky Bridges sees art supplies.

"Before it's disposed of, I want to create a little bit of poetry with it," Bridges said of the decades-old building that's being torn down to make way for a park.

Bridges plans to immortalize pieces of the old building - including segments of gallery walls and bathroom doors, sprinkler heads, lighting fixtures and signs - by incorporating them into works of art.

"To go in and find beauty in that destruction is a big part of life," said Bridges, who spoke to reporters Monday in front of a growing pile of crushed concrete and twisted metal.

Bridges, whose studio is housed in an old barn in Tarpon Springs, often uses "found objects" to build sculptures intended to comment on today's disposable society.

"It's an acknowledgement that that exists. It's not a criticism," he said.

The Tampa Museum of Art's permanent collection includes one of Bridges' sculptures. He said he hopes at least one of the pieces created from scraps of the old museum will end up in the new building.

That will be up to the museum's director and acquisitions committee. "We don't know what he's going to make and it will have to go through a process," said Ken Rollins, interim director of the museum.

Construction on a new museum is scheduled to begin in April with an opening slated for late 2009 on the north end of a renovated Curtis Hixon Park.

Janet Zink can be reached at jzink@sptimes.com or 813 226-3401.

If you go:

The Tampa Museum of Art on Friday will hold its first public event at its temporary location in the historic Centro Espanol building at 2306 N. Howard Ave. It will last from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Art After Dark will feature music, food and the works of seven West Tampa artists. Admission is free for museum members and $10 for nonmembers.