Thursday, May 10, 2012

Statewide Public Art Organization Awards Recognition to  Local Northeast Florida Public Art Projects for Excellence

The Florida Association of Public Art Professionals (FAPAP), a leading statewide public art organization, selected two (2) public artworks from the Northeast Florida area as top public art projects for 2011 at the 2012 Florida Public Art Year in Review during its annual conference in Fort Myers this past weekend. 
 Projects selected were installed in the state of Florida during 2011 and created by artists Jim Benedict, Assistant Professor at Jacksonville University, and Wendy Mandel McDaniel and Jan Tomlinson Master.
 The Northeast Florida public art projects selected are listed below by title, in alphabetical order:
Eco Story – the Doris F. Westervelt Memorial
Artist name:  Wendy Mandel McDaniel, Jan Tomlinson Master
Location:  Bird Island Park, 101 Library Boulevard, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
Commissioning agency: Bird Island Park Commission
Commissioned by Letita Smith in memory of her mother, Eco Story is a mosaic sited in the outdoor amphitheater in Bird Island Park, part of the St. Johns County Park System. The park was designed by golf course architect Bobby Weed and is used by the community as a place for contemplation, education and play. Three distinct Northeast Florida natural habitats are represented in the park through landscaping: Upland hammock, coastal dune, and freshwater marsh. The mosaic was commissioned to be an educational portrait of this natural environment.

The storytelling area is an amphitheater with a seating area of three, 14 inch risers. The artists adorned each riser with images of native plants and animals, each corresponding with the three different ecosystems represented in the park. A fourth riser behind the performance area has the words, “We Are Each a Tile in Nature’s Mosaic”. These words, written by Doris Westervelt’s son, reflect his mother’s love for nature, education, and community.

Letita Smith wanted the people who would use the park, to have “ownership” of the mosaic. State the artists, “To facilitate this, we did several things: We conducted a workshop for local children to make ‘ fossil’ clay tiles, pressed with flowers and leaves found in the park. Residents of Vicars Landing, the retirement community where Doris Westervelt last resided, participated by gluing tiles to mesh. Many local residents dropped by the studio to help. Home Depot donated supplies and staff helped with installation. Local high school students helped out as well.”

As an educational tool, the mosaic is reaching a larger audience at:
Friends of A1A Scenic and Historic Coastal Byway have featured the mosaic on its website with the names of all the plants and animals. Eco Story can now be enjoyed worldwide as well as in St. Johns County.
Helen Lessick, renowned public artist and juror states about Eco Story – the Doris F. Westervelt Memorial: “This living gathering space is literally for the birds, and is beautifully designed to nestle into the Bird Island Park site. The extraordinary mosaic design and execution is unique as the area has no formal public art program.” 

Additionally, Lessick comments that the Tree of Life project is a “stunning collaboration of truly civic-minded creative and service professionals.”
Tree of Life: Organ Donor Memorial
Artist: Professor Jim Benedict with Jacksonville University students: Don Mills, Matt Ward, Katrina Burns, Elise Gates, Cynthia Sullivan, Laura Heckt, Ryan Rowe, Mike Smith, Taylor Middleton, and Dale Roberts
Location: UF Shands Jacksonville, Florida
Commissioning agency: Arts in Medicine, UF Shands Jacksonville, Florida
The Tree of Life is a gathering place for friends, family, and the hospital community to reflect on the lives of the organ donors that have given the gift of life. The memorial is a permanent display that is updated annually to reflect the continued impact of organ donation on the community of Jacksonville. The project was created as a partnership between Arts in Medicine at UF Shands Jacksonville and the sculpture program at Jacksonville University.
About the jurors:
Mr. Bolge is recently retired as the Executive Director of the Boca Raton Museum of Art where he served as Executive Director for 16 years. Prior to that appointment Mr. Bolge served as the Executive Director for the Ft. Lauderdale Museum of Art for 18 years and has held numerous other leadership positions in the arts.  Most recently he has received a lifetime achievement award from the Florida Art Museum Directors Association, and is currently with the Museum of Florida Art.
Helen Lessick is an artist, arts advocate, and civic art consultant. She has created permanent and temporary public artworks in New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland, and in Europe, and in addition has assessed public art projects and programs across the US.  Her work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Getty Research Institute, the Sackner Archive of Concrete Poetry in Miami, among others.  A founding member of Socrates Sculpture Park, Helen is an experienced curator and gallerist. She is a frequent presenter on art panels and writes for Public Art Review, Sculpture magazine. She served as co-juror for the 2010 Public Art Network Year in Review for Americans for the Arts.  Originally from Philadelphia, Helen currently maintains her practice in Los Angeles.
“Public art gives each of our communities’ uniqueness.  Unlike McDonald’s, public art focuses the artists’ attention to the environment in which it is situated and gives our citizens a sense that they are special,” states Terry Olson, FAPAP President and Director, Orange County Arts and Cultural Affairs

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