Sculptor Leaves a Legacy at Nathan Benderson Park

By Max Winitz

SARASOTA-BRADENTON, FL—It’s pretty hard to miss. Drivers, joggers and bicyclists have quickly noticed a new, towering sculpture facing Cattlemen Road at Nathan Benderson Park. It’s called “Vortex,” and it was unveiled last Friday at the One Year Kick-off for the 2017 World Rowing Championships.

Malcolm Robertson with USRowing Olympic gold medalist, Amanda Polk

“At the end of the day, I thought that I should do something simple, straight forward and to the point,” said Malcolm Robertson, the artist behind “Vortex.”

A native of Scotland, Robertson, who lives part-time in Sarasota, began work on the sculpture in May. On Friday, he along with Meredith Scerba, the executive director of the Championships, unveiled the artwork to hundreds of excited spectators.

“A lot of hard work goes into it. It’s only at the very end that you really see the thing come to fruition. That’s when the big excitement comes,” said Robertson.

Inspired by the swirling eddies and shapes rowers leave in their wake as they power themselves toward the finishing line, “Vortex” is a sculptural expression of Robertson’s fascination with waves and shorelines.

“You take inspiration from the place, the purpose and the people,” said Robertson.

The base of the sculpture is 10ft wide and 6ft high. Located in the base is an electronic time clock counting down the days until the Championships. On top of the base is the actual “Vortex,” which is made out of stainless steel. Once the Rowing Championships are over, “Vortex” will become a permanent legacy sculpture at the park commemorating the Championships.

“It’s great to be given the opportunity,” said Robertson.  “It’s fun when everyone smiles at the end of the day and talks about how awesome it is.”

“Vortex” is the second permanent sculpture Robertson has on display on Florida’s Suncoast. The other is located in front of Sarasota County’s Fruitville Library. Roberston’s work can also be found throughout the United Kingdom, Germany and India.

“Vortex” is located on Regatta Island at Nathan Benderson Park and can be found between the two bridges connecting the island to Cattlemen Road.

“Vortex.” Photo courtesy: Norm Schimmel