As of Saturday, Oct. 28, Henry J. Klutho Park in Springfield is home for 10 new stationary residents.
As part of the Sculpture Walk project started by University of North Florida sculpture professor Dr. Jenny Hager and UNF sculpture instructor Lance Vickery, 10 sculptors-Robert Cordisco, Michael Cottrell, Jim Galluci, Donald Gialanella, Craig Gray, Jennifer Rubin, Hanna Jubran, Michele Moushey Dale, Matthjas Neumann and Jenn Peek-were commissioned to bring their ideas to the park and install their original works of art.
In partnership with SPAR (Springfield Preservation and Revitalization), Dr. Hager and Vickery were able to secure $25,000 in state funding, which was then matched by the city of Jacksonville through Councilman Reginald Gaffney. According to Dr. Hager, the installation "is about placemaking."
"The main goal of Sculpture Walk is to bring cultural vibrancy to our city. We want to make city parks inviting, educational and more experiential through the arts. But these projects also help bring commerce to our city and support artists at the same time," said Hager.
The process for selecting the featured artists and their statues was "democratic," Hager said. A committee of eight was selected for the decision, made up of artists, Springfield residents, a member of the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville and the Board of Sculpture Walk. After reviewing submissions from artists all across the country, the final 10 were chosen in a way to ensure that several varieties of styles and themes were going to be featured in the final installation.
Jacksonville's own self-proclaimed "nomadic" artist/sculptor and UNF student, Jenn Peek, has work featured in the installation. The goal and central purpose of her art and sculptures, said Peek, is to capture life in its "constant state of change."
The piece Peek installed in the Klutho Sculpture Walk-Light Box-is one of the artist's "light boxes." It is a solid example of her idea.
"Whenever I'm creating something, for instance with the light boxes I'm doing, it can appear very static because it's a very geometric cube and there's not a lot of movement, but that's why I added the lights and shadow parts with it," said Peek. "Depending on the time of day and your position to the piece, there's this idea that it's not the same every time you look at it. There's some flux to it. Life experience is just living, nothing is truly permanent. There's always going to be some change."
For Peek, the process of installing her work in the park came as a welcome challenge. As she said, unlike most other candidates who submitted their work and ideas for the project, she didn't actually have a sculpture ready for installation. "It was actually geared toward existing sculptures," said Peek. "Meaning, you know, as an artist, 'Oh, I had this sculpture on display and now I have it back in my possession. I wanna go put it in another place.' Being a student, I don't have 8-foot sculptures just hanging around my house."
So instead, Peek made a proposal for a piece that she would build if she were chosen for the project. She was aware that making that proposal might actually have lowered her chances to be chosen. However, on Oct. 1, Peek was notified that she had indeed been selected and was awarded a spot for her proposed statue-which she then had just under a month to complete.
Disxcussing the stresses of the project before the installation, Peek said, "It is my first large-scale piece, in addition to taking four classes and having three jobs, so this is a big project, but I'm still very excited about it and it's coming along very well."
Viewing a work of art like a statue by itself can be a striking experience, but seeing a group of artists come together to put on a showcase-like we're seeing at Klutho-gives folks a genuine sense of community. As Peek says, "The sculpture community is just that, it is a community, a family. Especially when working here at UNF and working around other artists constantly. Sculpture is not a place where you frequently find yourself alone."
Sculpture Walk Spirngfield, October 2017-2019, Klutho Park, 204 W. Third St., Springfield, sculpturewalkjax.com