Artists have made important contributions to the community by creating recognizable works of art that have become icons symbolic of the Tampa Bay area. Here are five of the top iconic works of art in Tampa Bay.

Phil Esposito Statue (credit: Sarah Dees)

Phil Esposito Statue, 2012, by Steven Dickey
Plaza, Tampa Bay Times Forum
401 Channelside Drive
Tampa, FL 33602
(813) 301-6500

Tampa artist Steven Dickey created many symbolic statues in this area, and his work has contributed to the visual identity of the community. Dickey says his favorite piece is the Phil Esposito statue, because it’s his most recent work. “The sculpture is representative of the city, the team and the Forum. It was dedicated during the Name Change Ceremony on the last day of 2011,” Dickey said, “and the team won the game that night!” It took Dickey about nine months to design the original clay sculpture and four months to do the casting in bronze.

“Phil Esposito was a very well known, well established hockey player who was instrumental in starting the Tampa Bay Lightning,” Dickey said. “He is not represented as a player because he was not playing hockey when he came down here. He was an executive, so he is shown in a suit. He loaned us his original hockey stick to make a mold for the sculpture.”

Dickey said that movement is a key element for all his public art sculptures. “I like the movement of the Al Lopez statue,” he said. “That is a piece you go back to later and you still like it. The Dolphin Fountain has good movement too, and represents the Bay. We spent a lot of time trying to figure out a single piece using the dolphins, but at the last part of the process, we split the dolphin sculptures in two, so the water can come up in the middle.”

Other top public art icons by Steven Dickey in City Public Art Collections:

  • The Dolphin Fountain1995, Bronze Fountain in Sarasota
  • At the Bayfront, Cross Roads West of Tamiami Trail (US 41) and South of Ringling Blvd.
  • Al Lopez Statue1992, Bronze Statue in Tampa
  • At Al Lopez Park, 4810 N. Himes, Tampa
  • Tribute to Immigrants of Ybor City 1992, Bronze Statue in Centennial Park
  • 1800 E 8th Ave, E 8th Ave & N 18th St, Ybor City, Tampa

Lightning statue (credit: Sarah Dees)

Lightning, 1997, by Jonathan Borofsky
Plaza, Tampa Bay Times Forum

Also at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, you’ll see the bright Lightning statue, created by Jonathan Borofsky, whose efforts in the past decade have almost exclusively been devoted to large-scale outdoor public commissions. The Maine resident builds amazing artistic steel structures all over the world.

Related: Best Art Museums In Tampa

Cancer Survivor Plaza, 2004 by David Conner
Al Lopez Park
4810 N. Himes
Tampa, Florida 33614
813-348-1172 Park, or 813-274-8615, Parks and Recreation Main Office Survivor Plaza is located at the edge of Al Lopez Park, across from Raymond James Stadium and Legends Field, at the intersection of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Dale Mabry Highway. Multiple statues, a walking path and a plaza are part of this outdoor interactive work of art, which was placed at the front of the park so that passers-by will be touched by the message of hope and survival. Three main components represent the poignant themes of Understanding Cancer, the Road to Recovery and Life Celebration. The history, meaning and purpose of the project is explained in the Background for Designing a Richard & Annette Bloch Cancer Survivors Park.

Recyclosaurus (credit: Sarah Dees)

Recyclosaurus Dinosaur Sculpture, 1993, by Terry Klaaren
Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI)
4801 E Fowler Ave.,
Tampa, FL

Tampa artist Terry Klaaren said that he built the Recyclosaurus sculpture 18 years ago to be a temporary way to find the entrance to MOSI when it was being renovated. Klaaren only planned on it lasting about 5 years, but it has endured all this time and now has become an icon. “The past 12 years, I have been painting murals in elementary schools, and I find out that so many kids love it,” Klaaren said. “I think it is a symbol for Tampa because it’s big and it gets noticed. It gets a lot of traffic and exposure, like a roadside attraction novelty. It’s in the right place and it’s kind of cute.”

“MOSI wanted a dinosaur made out of recycled materials,” he said. “At first, they thought it could be built out of junk car parts, but they found out the cost was too expensive. After looking at a lot of alternatives, I came across some construction fence, and got a bunch of rolls of that. Scrap All in Ybor City donated the steel for the spine. Underneath the armature is a steel I-beam which is the skeleton of the dinosaur. We put a couple of barrel hook steel things to make a cavity and started wrapping it like a mummy. I was able to sculpt it with insulated copper wire and cable ties. It’s light and air blows through it.”

“Over the years some of the cable ties deteriorated and it started looking kind of shabby,” Klaaren said. “Last spring, we got a grant from the museum to fix him up. Dave Connelly, who is in charge of exhibits at MOSI, found new fence for new skin. We took all the garbage out of his guts, and gave him new teeth, toenails and claws made out of stainless steel,” said Klaaren. “They wired it so it lights up at night, and made electric blue eyes with with LED lights. The base was painted like the strata of a rock formation. We’ve got another good 20 years on it now, at least.”

Sunken Gardens (credit: Sarah Dees)

Sunken Gardens, 1903, Botanical Art Living Museum
1825 4th St. N.
St. Petersburg, FL 33704

Sunken Gardens is 100-year-old botanical art living museum, an icon and true symbol of St. Petersburg. This lush jungle in the middle of a city was originally created by plumber and avid gardener George Turner Sr. in a sunken lake bed. Many of the plants are quite large due to their long history of cultivation. Cascading waterfalls, beautiful vistas, a wedding garden and more than 50,000 tropical plants and flowers welcome visitors for wandering paths, yoga, hoop dancing and butterfly encounters. Garden tours, horticultural programs, special events, field trips and weddings are available, and except for inclement weather, it is open year-round. The garden is adjacent to the Great Explorations Children’s Museum, where interactive learning comes through creative play and exploration.

With so many wonderful works of public art available, it was difficult to choose the top five. We want to know what you think, so please write your comments. What are your favorite art icons? To help you decide, view public works of art in the city of Tampa by taking a virtual tour of Highlights from the Tampa Public Art Collection. Sculpture installations to the south can be seen at the Public Art in Sarasota and Public Art in Manatee County links. Public Art in St. Petersburg takes you on a virtual tour of over 80 pieces in the public art collection placed throughout St. Petersburg. Public Art Tours for groupsare offered by The St. Petersburg Office of Cultural Affairs. A docent will hand-pick your tour stops based on your interests and you will get a map of every public art work in the city so that you may continue to explore on your own after the tour.Related: Top Public Art Exhibits Around Tampa

Sarah Dees is an accomplished artist, writer, educator, and entrepreneur, with over twenty-five years of professional experience. Sarah attended Eckerd College for two years, and graduated with a BFA from Parsons School of Design in New York City. She is a freelance writer in Tampa Bay. Her work can be found at