- February 4, 2020
The public art project in front of the Duval County Courthouse will comprise two sculptures entitled “These Truths.”
Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville officials, a member of the artist selection panel and a local poet who will contribute to the project unveiled the design, by artist Cliff Garten of Cliff Garten Design Studio in Venice, California, at a June 1 news conference in front of the Downtown structure.
The art will comprise two stainless steel ribbons emblazoned with the words “justice,” “equality,” “equity” and “freedom.”
The sculpture will depict writings from the foundational texts of American democracy with additional contributions by local authors and poets. It will be illuminated at night.
Garten did not attend the ceremony but provided a video statement in which he said the installation will provide a place for public assembly.
“At a time when we are reassessing what a public monument is, we are in need of new models for how a public sculpture is made so that the place it forms is inclusive of everyone,” Garten said.
The local authors contributing to the installation are Yvette Angelique, Sohrab Homi Fracis, Tim Gilmore, Ebony Payne English and Love Reigns.
“The sculpture will be a focal point for Jacksonville that will house our stories,” Angelique said at the news conference.
She said local contributors will conduct a “story mining” process to seek input from the community about what will be included in the final product.
More than 140 artists submitted designs for the installation, said Diana Donovan, executive director of the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville, facilitator of the Art in Public Places Program.
She said the process to select the artist for the installation, which took a year to narrow the field was difficult, but Garten’s submission was selected unanimously by the Art in Public Places Committee.
“This will be a proud symbol for our community,” Donovan said.
Chris Flagg, a vice president at Haskell, was on the selection panel and also was the landscape architect when the courthouse was designed 10 years ago.
He described the sculpture as a “destination opportunity” and that Garten’s presentation was clearly the best.
“His stood head and shoulders above the shortlist artists. It’s done the way we intended it to be,” Flagg said.
The budget for the sculpture is $500,000, the balance remaining from the original $619,000 Art in Public Places budget for the project after the three finalists for the installation were paid stipends, said Jen Jones, interim Art in Public Places director for the Cultural Council.
The original budget was based on 0.75% of the city building construction cost set aside when the Art in Public Places Program was established by local ordinance in 1997.
Jones said the sculpture is scheduled to be dedicated next summer, in conjunction with the city’s bicentennial celebration and the 10th anniversary of the courthouse at 501 W. Adams St.