Written by Liliana Cerquozzi
Art lies not only within the Museums in Jacksonville, but throughout the city in public places that you may or may not have already been to. Some may be in the most unexpected places that you visit on a daily basis or some may be lying around town that you just never got a chance to go visit. If given the chance, you must get out and marvel at the beauty that is right here in our own backyard, and don’t worry… there’s free admission.
My top choice for public art would be The Main Library – Laura Street Exterior called Wisdom. Washington D.C. artist Larry Kirkland created a large-scale sculpture that can be seen from both Monroe and Laura Street. The sculpture is a bronze owl, a traditional symbol of wisdom which appropriately identifies the Main Library as a place of pursuit for information, knowledge, and wisdom. In ancient Greek mythology, Athena, the goddess of wisdom, was able to transform herself into an owl. The sculpture was inspired by a sculpture created by Michelangelo for the Medici Chapel in Florence, Italy. The golden key, located above the owl, incorporates the Greek letters A – Z, referencing the beginning and end, while the key itself unlocks the knowledge inside the books that the owl is sitting upon. Kirkland also created cast bronze animals, toys, and trains in the Kid’s Walk, a 650 foot bridge connecting Jacksonville’s Wolfson Children’s Hospital and Nemours Children’s Clinic.
Number two on my list, The Riverside Memorial Park, Winged Victory. It has gotten much recognition in the past and many painters use it as their subject in the art. But what makes it so special? Winged Victory memorializes the 1,200 soldiers from Florida killed during the First World War. The statue depicts “the winged figure of youth,” a muscular character rising valiantly and victoriously above “the mad maelstrom of earthly passions.” Unveiled on Christmas Day in 1924, the message was overlooked by many residents of the Riverside neighborhood, more than likely because they thought the statue was too distracting and mocking the community standards of decency. Today the statue stands proud and no word is said about its’ “decency.” St. Augustine native sculptor, C. Adrian Pillars, began working on the statue in 1922, drawing inspiration from a sentimental war poem by soldier-poet Allan Seeger who lost his life in WWI. It seems to me he may have drawn inspiration from the Winged Victory of Samothrace, but that may be a coincidence.
And last on my top three list would be The Lions of San Marco Fountain. Added in 1997 to the San Marco Area, they have become iconic to the San Marco area, reflecting the area’s association with Venice, Italy. Angela Shiffanela and Alan Wilson designed these three lounging lions that have caught my eye every time I enter San Marco Square.