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Based on the success of the “giraffe tree” he painted in Munn Park, artist David Collins has started another public art project and is planning to paint more trees in the park.

Lkldnow asked Collins about the project and his plans. Here are his answers:

Did the project achieve its objectives?

Yes, and more. People by the hundreds stop and take pictures every day. The public likes it; the city and the Parks Department like it.

Do you anticipate more projects like this? If so, do you know what or where?

Yes. I am working on one now which will be installed on the alley wall behind the new restaurant Nineteen 61 on Florida Avenue (in Dixieland). It will be on the wall next to the antique store called Junk Prince. Ricky Robson, who owns the shop, is helping with the project. It will be a sculpture made from chicken wire and then wrapped with stretch wrapped and painted. It is based on this image:

e pluribus unum

The Parks Department and the city have agreed to allow me to create an event downtown in which 30 or more artists will paint all of the trees in Munn Park.  I have inventoried, photographed, measured and estimated the time it would take an artistic team to accomplish the paintings.

David Collins

It will be funded through sponsorships and all artists will be paid.  Other art organizations will be involved.  A committee is being formed and will be facilitated by the LDDA (Lakeland Downtown Development Authority).  The LDDA has already endorsed the project and will provide the necessary insurance etc.  We’re talking with a potential co-sponsor. What month the event will occur has not been decided.

What are all the animals represented?

Reticulated giraffe, Maasai ostrich, Galapagos tortoise, great horned owl, emperor penguin, lunch rats, green iguana, yellow anaconda, panda bear youth and scarlet macaws.

All of the paintings are to scale except that the snake is not that long. The penguins are really that big.

What other artists were involved?

I asked Steven Storjohann to paint the iguana. He is a 27-years-old with Autism who painted many windows downtown this past Christmas.

Did it take you longer than you anticipated?

Yes and no.  It was the first time I’ve ever painted anything that size and did not anticipate the number of trips up and down the scaffolding to get proportions right.  I had not anticipated the time I would spend answering questions, talking to children, explaining the process and materials or answering a myriad other questions.

What’s your biggest take-away from the project?

Pop Up Art in public places is exciting.  I don’t know anyone around Florida doing similar things so I’m going to see how far I can take the concept.

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Barry Friedman founded in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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