A lot of people were surprised when a new swan sculpture was unveiled in Munn Park today.
The swan was painted by Brazilian pop artist Romero Britto, who is known for works awash in vivid colors.
If the artist’s purpose is to defy expectations, Britto achieved his goal when the cover came off his latest piece, revealing a work in white and black. Britto explained he was inspired by the swans around Lakeland’s lakes — most of them white but some of them black.
The swan was commissioned by the owners of the new Posto 9 restaurant across Main Street from Munn Park, which opens this weekend.
Britto paintings line the walls, including a portrait of restaurant co-owner Grace Franca.
Admirers of Britto’s works attended today’s ceremony and he obliged them by signing their purses that feature his art and posing for pictures.
The Munn Park 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.
Under its former name, “Uncle Swan,” it anchored Heritage Park, a landscaped triangle at the corner of Kentucky Avenue and Orange Street. When restaurateur Marco Franca asked city parks officials if they had a swan that could be repainted and moved, they offered up Uncle Swan since it was in need of new paint and repairs.