Flying the Coop

February 21, 2017 | Tampa Downtown | Art

George Sugarman’s gift to Tampa brings life to its new home.

One of the innovators of pedestal-free sculpture, George Sugarman’s (1912-1999) abstract-expressionist designs were icons of the post-war era, their twisting biomorphic shapes and brilliant colors growing to monumental proportions by the 1970s.

Commissioned by NationsBank in 1988, Sugarman erected “Untitled,” a 36-foot-tall, 19-ton aluminum and steel sculpture next to the Rivergate Tower. Sugarman said he wanted to show that “an office or bank building can have a larger meaning than just its function, that such buildings can help form a symbol of creativity that energizes the whole area.”

Tampa Tribune columnist Steve Otto is credited with its more lasting name, “the Exploding Chicken.”

In 2010 it was dismantled, refurbished and reinstalled in the roundabout in front of the Florida Aquarium on Channelside Drive after being donated to the city by new Rivergate Tower owners America’s Capital Partners.

After 30 years, it can finally stretch its wings in the sun.