FOLIO ARTS

ART COMES OUT

The Jax Outings project turns the entire city into an open-air museum

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Up to her elbow in wheat paste, Hope McMath, director of the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, led a street-team over a four-day period in mid-November to plaster 40 reproductions of the museum’s collection on walls across Jacksonville. The Jax Outings project was inspired by the larger, global Outings project created by French artist and filmmaker, Julien de Casabianca who, inspired by initial “outings” in Jacksonville this past summer, decided to come spend a week in the Bold City to facilitate the frenzied undertaking.

Described by McMath as “a guerrilla way to raise awareness surrounding street art and public art,” a street team, comprising 25 volunteers, spent a Wednesday night privately touring the Cummer collection. They were encouraged to use their smartphones to capture details and nuances in the paintings.  Some minor background figures, barely an inch tall in a painting, became life-size protagonists. “All of this [was done] to make the Cummer’s collection into the city’s collection,” McMath beams. “We wanted to connect people, buildings, and the natural environment to the art.”

That same evening, Jacksonville artist and photographer Doug Eng received a slew of text messages and emails from the street team and set about to print the attached photos. He continued to print nonstop for four days.

The ink was the most expensive component of the process, according to McMath, but all of the materials used are commonplace in any home or office. “We deliberately wanted to keep this from being expensive and convoluted,” McMath explains.

The printed figures were then cut out of the white paper and the following Thursday, Friday, and Saturday saw a whirlwind enterprise of searching for walls to marry with the images. In the midst of it all, Julien de Casabianca managed to squeeze in a sold-out lecture at the Cummer, the proceeds from which served to offset the costs of the project. He also did seven of the outings in Jacksonville himself, two of which are the largest he has ever accomplished.

By Saturday evening, an exhausted team had completed what it had set out to do: Set the art free in the community. McMath muses that she still has a few stashed in her car — works that are just waiting to find a home. The project will continue through the efforts of anyone who wants to spend the approximate $60 in materials for a life-sized outing.

As for the location of the outings, McMath says, “Folks will have to keep an eye out. They will have to get out of their cars and walk around to find some of the most intriguing ones.”

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