“The Heart of Pasco County” moniker will soon be taken on quite literally in Dade City — in the form of an outdoor, permanent public artwork exhibit.
At least 10 or more large-sized heart-shaped sculptures will be installed at city-owned properties in and around the downtown area, per an art proposal OK’d by Dade City Commissioners at a Sept. 10 meeting.
Plans call for 3D metal heart sculptures measuring approximately 36 inches by 36 inches by 8 inches that will be attached to 6-foot steel posts secured to the ground; artwork patterns will differ on each heart structure.
The entire project is being facilitated by the Dade City Center for the Arts (DCCA) and local artist Russ Taylor, who owns and operates Out of Our Hands Gallery on Seventh Street.
DCCA’s board of directors will select various artists to paint the myriad sculptures, enlisting the help of professionals and youth groups alike to submit ideas and designs.
Additionally, the art organization is partnering with Pasco-Hernando State College’s welding program to fabricate metal structures designed to withstand inclement weather and other conditions.
The initiative is to not only spruce up the downtown area, but also use public artwork as a photo opportunity and marketing tool, to encourage residents and visitors alike to stroll throughout city limits. More frills include installing QR codes on each sculpture mapping out the location of other city landmarks and providing information about a particular artist or meaning of the artwork itself.
The entire concept is similar to outdoor art events in other cities that bring together artists’ creativity with a sculptural icon that relates to the city. In Dade City’s case, its official seal has a heart shape surrounded by kumquats in its center.
Some proposed locations for the forthcoming heart sculptures include:
- Hibiscus Park
- City Hall/Police station alcove entrance or nearby
- Green space entrance to Hardy Trail
- Meridian Avenue/U.S. 301 intersection, near Dade City Heritage and Cultural Museum
- Naomi S. Jones Park
- Whitehouse historical landmark on Old Lakeland Highway
- Lock Street/Hardy Trail intersection
- Agnes Lamb Park near Meridian Avenue
- Price Park
- Watson Park
- Dade City Garden Club
Calls for artwork are out now. Sculptures are expected to be debuted in late January. There are also plans to organize a “Take Heart” art, music and food walk in mid-February, further showcasing the artwork throughout the city.
City leaders expressed enthusiasm about the forthcoming project.
Said Mayor Pro Tem Jim Shive: “I think art’s a great thing. It’s a great motivator for the young people. I think it’s going to be great to have art in Dade City.”
Mayor Camille Hernandez added: “We look forward to seeing it come to fruition, and just adding that creative touch and some excitement for the town.”
Dade City staffers are likewise “very supportive” of the installation of public art objects, said Melanie Romagnoli, city’s community and economic development director.
“Coming from a staff perspective, for the locations within our CRA (Community Redevelopment Area) as well as in our comprehensive plan for the entire city, public art is encouraged as part of an attraction as a destination for people to come visit,” Romagnoli said.
A final agreement at the administrative level is expected to make DCCA responsible for repairing any wear-and-tear the sculptures incur, like if the original paint fades or chips.
Aside from heart-shaped sculptures, the DCCA, too, has ideas for other community art projects.
The group is expected to facilitate a wall mural visible from the Hardy Trail, that would be painted on the exterior of a nearby building.
Like with heart sculptures, the DCCA would similarly arrange for a mural’s funding and labor, pending city approval.
Published September 30, 2020