by Joe Wilhelm Jr.
She needed space.
He had empty space to fill.
They met at a Jacksonville Bar Association Sole Practitioner/Small Law Firm Section luncheon at the office of the law firm she worked for.
Attorney Susannah Collins of The Calley Law Firm had run out of space to display her paintings, so she brought some in to hang on the walls of the office. They awaited hanging as they sat on the floor leaning up against the walls. Mike Riley, assistant to the Clerk of Court, attended the luncheon and noticed the art on the floor.
“I told her we had a lot of empty wall space that they would look great on,” said Riley, talking about the Jury Service area in the Duval County Courthouse Annex.
Collins had her artwork displayed in a gallery, but pulled them out to display at “The Honorable Peter J. Fryefield Law Revue” this past October. After the revue, she found that she had lost her space at the gallery and was forced to take the paintings home, and then later into the office.
“Mike told me that they couldn’t afford artwork for the jury rooms,” said Collins. “I let him know that there were plenty of lawyers who were artists that would love a place to show their work.”
Just like any new tenant, it takes a little while to get settled in to new surroundings. Such was the process for the Jury Service Division of the Duval County Clerk of Court. It moved into the Annex a little over a year ago and was settled enough to start looking at how to make the jury service experience better.
“Without the art, the rooms look very dull,” said Riley. “We’ve had so many people who appreciate it.”
Riley enjoys most of the artwork, but there is one piece that he keeps his eye on.
“Watch it,” said Riley, looking at a painting of a parrot that was created by Collins. “Doesn’t it look like the eyes are following you as you walk by it? That’s just creepy.”
Collins is joined by attorneys Deborah Reid, Eric Smith, Robert Aguilar and Marcella Beeching in displaying artwork throughout the Jury Services offices and jury rooms.
“We have opened it up to all attorneys,” said Riley.
Most of the attorneys who have displayed art at the Annex have a variety of talents or interests. Collins has a part in County Court Judge Jeff Morrow’s movie “Hemphill’s Gift.” She has also written a book and paints.
“The paintings let people see that lawyers can do more than just practice law,” said Collins.