Artist Reimagines Swan That’s Moving to Munn Park

Munn Park is about to get a Swansational new resident: a large, sculpted swan that has been transformed from patriotic to pop art by noted Brazilian artist Romero Britto.

The swan do-over was commissioned by Marco Franca and will be unveiled Friday at 11 a.m. as part of a weekend of grand opening events for Posto 9, a Brazilian gastropub on Main Street that’s owned by Franca and his wife, Grace.

Grand opening events include a free lecture by Britto at 6 tonight at the Polk Museum of Art.

Britto “combines elements of cubism, pop art and graffiti painting in his work, using vibrant colors and bold patterns as a visual expression of hope and happiness,” according to his Wikipedia bio.

The swan, when it was new.

The swan was originally painted in an Uncle Sam motif by Richard F. Lewis for the 2002 Swansation civic pride/charity effort in which businesses and individuals paid for 62 large swans to be painted imaginatively and placed around Lakeland.

The sculpture, named “Uncle Swan,” until recently anchored Heritage Park, a landscaped triangle at the corner of Kentucky Avenue and Orange Street that features the U.S., Florida and Lakeland flags on tall poles and a plaque memorializing those who died on Sept. 11, 2001.

Old home: Heritage Park at Kentucky and Orange. The photo was taken after the swan was removed.

The swan needed repainting and repairs after somebody knocked off its stars-and-stripes tophat. So when Franca asked the city if it had a swan that he could have repainted and moved, it offered the Heritage Park swan, according to Pam Page, the city’s assistant parks director.

Before agreeing to move the swan two blocks, the city got an OK from Seth McKeel’s family, Page said. The city had been given the swan, she said, after it was acquired at a charity auction by Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam as a gift for McKeel. “Uncle Swan” was originally commissioned by Heritage Equities, Rodda Equities and Peterson & Myers, P.A.

City parks staff placed a concrete pad for the swan in view of Posto 9 last week.

New home: The pad in view of Posto 9 awaited its swan this week.

Claire Orologas, executive director of the Polk Museum of Art, praised the Francas for commissioning the piece. “Any time an internationally recognized artist is represented and engaged in our community, it’s a very good thing,” she said.  “The benefits of his visit will remain long after Friday as Lakeland will have another public art piece by a well known artist.”

So what does the reimagined swan look like? Stay tuned. We find out Friday at 11.