Oldsmar City Council member Linda Foley Norris with USF art student Cierra Flowers. Credit: Linda Foley Norris.
A design by an art student at the University of South Florida was selected for the Art in Public Places project slated for installation at R.E. Olds Park.
The winning concept was created by Cierra Flowers, one of seven students who presented designs as part of a class that specialty created specifically for the project.
One of the judges was Oldsmar City Council member Linda Foley Norris, who explained *how the whole process played out.
“We got a Penny For Pinellas grant a few years ago for this project, and we began contacting professional artists to get their submissions,” Norris recently told Oldsmar Connect.
“The council couldn’t agree on any of the designs, so I reached out to a friend of mine, Dr. Wallace Wilson, the Director of USF’s School of Art and Art History, and he and Dr. Caesar Cornejo designed the class around the project.”
“We believe this is the first time ever there’s been a paid commission awarded between a city and a USF art class.”
Dr. Cornejo said the experience was invaluable for the students.
“The opportunity that Oldsmar City Council gave USF students through Linda Norris’ initiative and the mediation of the Director of the School of Art and Art History professor Wallace Wilson, was an extremely unique one,” he wrote from Cuba via email.
“They not only were able to apply their ideas in a real setting, but were able to study the whole public art application process from beginning to end, making a formal presentation in front of a panel of Oldsmar City Council officials. This was a priceless experience for all of them, that has prepared them for similar projects in the future.”
Norris said that by the conclusion of the course, the students’ presentations had exceeded the council’s expectations.
R.E. Olds Park
“Seven kids presented projects, and they were awesome, they exceeded our expectations,” she said.
“They all had very professional presentations. They really blew us away.”
After much debate, the council selected Flowers’ design, which will incorporate flowers and benches made from concrete.
She also said City officials were so impressed with the students, they decided to incorporate another student’s work on this project, and the City might use the student’s ideas in future projects.
“We decided to use some of the money from the commission and use Anthony Santacroce’s concept, too,” she said. “And I also plan to have Lakeema Matthew paint a mural on the side of my barn.”
“Some of the kids’ ideas were so good…it’s not out of the realm we could commission them to work on projects in the future.”
Norris said that Flowers is expected to meet with City Manager Bruce Haddock soon to discuss the implementation of her design, with the hopes of having the project completed in time for the city’s centennial celebration next year.
(L-R) Scott Ward, Skye Heyden, Lakeema Matthew, Cierra Flowers, Dr. Wallace Wilson, Linda Foley Norris, Dr. Cesar Cornejo, Sofia Martinez, Tyler Dobson and Anthony Santacroce. Credit: Linda Foley Norris.
*Note: City officials clarified that a percentage is allocated per project from the City’s general fund revenues to be put towards Public Art.