The Music Box: Tampa Bay

ProjectMusic Box Outpost

LocationCommunity Stepping stones, Tampa Bay, FL

DateMarch 25th - April 17th, 2016

Project DescriptionWatch a documentary about this project HERE 


The USF Contemporary Art Museum (USFCAM) presented The Music Box: Tampa Bay, a musical architecture project by visiting artists New Orleans Airlift, curated by Sarah Howard, Curator of Public Art and Social Practice, with assistance from Shannon Annis in Spring 2016. This interactive public artwork that fused architecture, engineering, history and music-making, The Music Box: Tampa Bay was a performance space and site for exploration, experimentation and discovery at the Community Stepping Stones (CSS) site at Mann-Wagnon Park along the primordial Hillsborough River in the Sulphur Springs neighborhood of Tampa full of alligators and manatees!

The Music Box: Tampa Bay was comprised of three temporary structures with embedded instrumentation designed to produce sounds when interacted with and performed by musicians and visitors. During the month of March, Airlift artists and Music Box founders Delaney Martin and Taylor Shepherd led the project featuring collaborating local artists Jan Awai, Devon Brady and Michael Lemieux from Livework Studios, community-based land artist, Tory Tepp, and NYC-based artists Ranjit Bhatnagar and Alyssa Dennis to design and construct the musical village. Students from CSS and USF College of The Arts worked with the artists to execute the public art installation and presentation.

Art works included The Symphonium (LiveWork), a bicycle powered instrument drawing water from the Hillsborough river to power a series of horns in a water tower, Pitch bo House, (Dennis and Bhatnagar) a two story structure with playable floorboards and sliding doors, and Lunar Tool Shed (Tepp) that came with sonic shovels and wheelbarrows and which used water pumped from The Symphonium to power percussive instrumentation and water flowers that grew around the structure over the course of the installation. Tepp’s piece remains at the site while the other two structures have joined Airlift’s permanent Music Box Village in New Orleans.

Following the artist design and build residency, The Music Box: Tampa Bay opened to the public for four weekends starting March 25th and concluding April 17th. Musical performances, orchestrated and performed by local musicians, including Ray ‘rayzilla’ Villadonga conducting The Modified Mosquito Massive featuring an all star cast of local luminaries, emerging band Career performing Structures, USF Composition Program presented “It's Called 'The Locktsapopka”, and a final performance by hip-hop collective Gwan Massive. Additional programming included artist talks and a spoken word performance by Heard ‘Em Say Youth Arts Collective.

In June of 2016, a follow up exhibition at USF Contemporary Art Museum, again curated by Sarah Howard, featuring a retrospective of the Music Box Project beginning in 2011 - 2016 and also included local artists responding to the experience of Music Box: Tampa Bay. 

The Music Box: Tampa Bay was supported by a National Endowment for the Arts ART WORKS grant, The Frank E. Duckwall Foundation, The Gobioff Foundation, and the USF School of Art and Art History’s Bank of America Community Arts Endowment Fund.

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