At its annual conference each year, the Florida Association of Public Art Professionals takes note of the public art projects completed throughout Florida during the previous calendar year. In 2011, Parallel Park, the 30,000-square-foot Marylyn Dintenfass public art installation that has first-time visitors asking whether the Lee County Justice Center Parking Garage is a fine art museum, was included in FAPAP’s Year in Review. This year, Fire Dance will be Fort Myers’ featured entry in the Association’s much-anticipated statewide public art survey.
Fire Dance is the first commission awarded to an artist by the City of Fort Myers Public Art Committee under an ordinance enacted in 2004 that encourages developers to fund public art projects within the city. Located at the eastern edge of Centennial Park West, the 25-foot-tall Dupont red aluminum sculpture symbolizes the energy and vitality of the park during jazz festivals and other musical events.
The sculptor is David Black. He was chosen by the Public Art Committee from a field of 162 artists who responded to the City’s national call to artists interested in submitting their qualifications. Black is a world-renowned monumental artist who’s won 35 national and three international sculpture competitions. A professor of art at Ohio State University for 30 years, the Gloucester, Massachusetts native received his B.A. cum laude from Wesleyan University, where he was also Phi Beta Kappa, and his M.A. from Indiana University.
Jack Becker and Rebecca Martin Nagy are serving as jurors for FAPAP’s Year in Review, and together they will single out and comment on the most exemplary public art projects completed in 2012.
Becker is founder and Executive Director of Forecast Public Art, a 35-year-old nonprofit based in St. Paul, Minnesota. In 1989, he established Public Art Review, an international journal devoted to the field. Jack has also served as a public art consultant since 1994. In 2007 he received an Award of Excellence from Americans for the Arts for his contribution to the public art field.
With a background in both theater and visual arts, Jack typically focuses on projects that connect the ideas and energies of artists with the needs and opportunities of communities. He previously served as Art in Public Places Program Coordinator for the City of Minneapolis (1987-89), Arts Development Manager for the City of St. Paul (1991-93), and instructor at the College of Visual Arts, St. Paul (1993-1995). Jack was invited to China in 2011 and is currently working in partnership with Shanghai University to research and recognize outstanding public art around the world.
Rebecca Martin Nagy assumed the position of Director of the University of Florida’s Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art in July 2002. Prior to that, she spent 17 years at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, where she held positions in the Education and Curatorial departments. She received her Ph.D. in art history from Chapel Hill and her undergraduate degree from Georgia Southern University.
Nagy currently serves as President of the Florida Art Museum Directors Association and as a Trustee of the Association of Art Museum Directors. She sits on the boards of the Florida Association of Museums, the France Florida Foundation for the Arts, the Alachua County Historic Trust/Matheson Museum and the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce. She served on the Art in Public Places Trust of Gainesville and Alachua County from 2004-2010.
Last year, the Florida Association of Public Art Professionals held its annual conference in Fort Myers, marking the first time the conference was held in Southwest Florida since FAPAP began gathering in 1998. In May, FAPAP will meet in Clearwater for this year’s annual conference.
The Florida Association of Public Art Professionals arose out of an informal meeting in the spring of 1997 between Vincent Ahern, Coordinator of Public Art for the University of South Florida, Jan Stein, Public Arts Administrator for Hillsborough County, and Barbara Anderson Hill, who served at the time as the City of Tampa’s Public Arts Administrator. Together, Ahern, Stein and Hill perceived the need for public art administrators across the state to assemble annually to discuss the issues faced by all public art programs.
Since then, FAPAP has been working to encourage awareness of the social and economic benefits associated with public art programs and provide educational, informational and networking opportunities for individuals, institutions, governments and businesses involved in public art.
Today there are more than 60 public art programs throughout Florida which, in the aggregate, possess and maintain over 4,000 works of art in public spaces. There are 45 separate artworks located at 23 different sites throughout the City of Fort Myers. Of these, 37 are administered and maintained by the Fort Myers Public Art Committee.