I spent my summer break working as an intern with Friends of Hemming Park through Jacksonville’s Mayor’s Youth at Work Partnership. During my first week of work, three new sculptures were introduced in a new dedicated Sculpture Garden space in the Park. After months of preparation, planning, and hard work, student artists from the University of North Florida Olivia Warro, Stephen Magyar and Jennifer Peek saw their works “Deer”, “Sunshine Mimosa”, and “Histor-Tree of Jacksonville” installed on June 18th. The City of Jacksonville held Public Art Week June 16th through the 22nd and events took place in the park each day as the new sculptures were welcomed. Throughout the week, the sculptures were shown off to a wide variety of audiences drawn to the park for different events. Hemming had food trucks, live music, and an art activity every day of the week.
Each piece was inspired by a different aspect of the city- local flora, native fauna, and Jacksonville history. At the beginning of September, eight UNF students planned and sculpted miniature models of their final works. After they were displayed in MOCA Jacksonville and voted on by the public and an art selection panel, three pieces were chosen to be displayed in the park. The students were also awarded a cash prize and will retain ownership of their work. The project was originally planned to showcase just one sculpture, but a generous donation allowed the selection of three. The hope is that this project will be continued for at least five more years, with new sculptures each summer. I will definitely be back to visit them!
The students and their families attended a special opening ceremony on the night of the 20th where the professors and donors were also invited. Samantha, another intern, and I served appetizers prepared by the MOCA cafe as the attendees celebrated the artists and the recent and continuing expansion of public art in Jacksonville. Christina Parrish, Friends of Hemming Park’s Managing Director, thanked the patrons, donors and sponsors who made the initiative possible while Jennifer Hager, sculpture professor at UNF, gave insight on what the opportunity meant for the students and her sculpture department at UNF.
After the pieces were installed, I attended a public art tour with the Hemming Park Walking Club and Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville. After a quick one and a half hour tour with a public art expert, I learned so much about Jacksonville’s history and the global public art movement through murals. The group also met with local artist Karen Kuryicki who contributed to Phase 2 of the Downtown Investment Authority’s Public Art Project. Her pieces focused on the music history of Jacksonville.
To conclude Public Art Week and kickoff Skyway Saturdays, Hemming Park held a free summer concert with New Orleans band, Flow Tribe. Earlier in the day, I had the opportunity to ride the Skyway to all its stops and advertise the concert to others riding as well. Thanks to a partnership with JTA, the Skyways ran for free from 12 pm to 10 pm so that everyone could have access to the event and enjoy a fun ride on the Skyway.
Looking back on my weeks of internship at Friends of Hemming, I am happy to say I learned a lot about the City of Jacksonville, public art, & how a non-profit organization works. It has definitely been a memorable summer so far!