A mysterious, giant aluminum ball has appeared in downtown Orlando.
Local officials aren't saying much, and they've tried to hide it behind a construction fence. But it won't be the last strange object to show up downtown. It's the first of eight large-scale sculptures expected to appear during the next two months.
The work is part of See Art Orlando, a privately funded community project that aims to bring more culture downtown.
"We considered trying to cover them up, but a couple of the pieces are kinetic — they move with the wind. so we thought, 'OK, that's not going to work,'" said Jennifer Quigley, the organization's chairwoman. "So then we thought, 'Let's just put a fence up.' … It will still have a tiny little bit of mystery to it."
A little mystery, perhaps, but the fence is not all that tall and doesn't hide much.
Six of the eight sites will be around the perimeter of Lake Eola Park. They'll all be big, but some bigger than others — as tall as 25 feet. Putting them in place is a major undertaking, with some taking several days. The installations will be staggered through early November, with a public unveiling Nov. 18.
The first sculpture to be installed is the globe, roughly 10 feet in diameter with blue acrylic panels inset in an aluminum framework.
It's already attracting attention.
"I'm excited to see as much art downtown as possible," said Ricardo Williams of Thornton Park, who stopped to snap a picture on his way to work Wednesday.
A school of shoal bass is depicted on the panels, and when it's unveiled, LED lights will cause the sculpture to glow from inside, making the panels appear to be moving water. It seems to fit its surroundings in Heritage Square Park, with its baldcypress trees and alligator statue.
The sculpture by Birmingham, Ala., artist Deedee Morrison is called "Global Convergence." It was lifted onto a flatbed trailer and hauled to the site on Central Boulevard in front of the History Center early Saturday.
Quigley, a civil engineer, worked with Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer to put the project together. During the past year, they've lined up donors willing to pay $1.5 million for the pieces — no tax money is involved — and picked artists from more than 170 submissions from around the world.
The next one, from the only local artist to be selected, Jacob Harmeling of Orlando, will be installed starting next week.
Three of the pieces, including the one already in place, will feature LED lighting. City officials will have a master controller that will allow them to change the color and movement of lighting in not only those pieces, but also in the Tower of Light sculpture in front of City Hall and the Lake Eola Fountain.
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