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‘Fire Dance’ in need of a sponsor


The City of Fort Myers Public Art Committee is looking for a sponsor for Fire Dance.

Since its installation in Centennial Park West in March of 2011, the 25-foot-tall aluminum sculpture has been relatively maintenance free. But after baking in Southwest Florida’s searing sun for more than a decade, its signature Dupont red paint is finally fading even though Ohio sculptor David Black had the manufacturer’s include UV protection in the paint.

On top of that, Fire Dance has been tagged in several places. Because the paint has faded, painting over the graffiti is not a realistic option.

The red modernist sculpture also bears the scars of skateboard trucks, the residue of grinds, slides and stalls. In fact, large swaths of paint have been scraped off, exposing the bare aluminum along the sculpture’s graceful lower circle and the edge of the bench that Ohio sculptor David Ward included for people who wished to sit while admiring his handiwork as the artwork’s medley of circles, spirals and counterbalances sparks their imagination.

“All outdoor public artworks require maintenance from time to time,” observes Public Art Committee Chair Carolyn Gora. “It’s no different than waxing your car on a regular basis or touching up dings and scrapes to keep the metal from corroding.”

Repainting Fire Dance involves quite a bit more than merely pressure washing and slapping a fresh coat of paint on the sculpture. The entire sculpture must first be lightly sanded. Areas that have blistered, peeled or been gouged by skateboarders have to be sanded to the bare aluminum. And because of the sculpture’s glossy finish, it will be necessary to use a bonding primer before the topcoat and protective clear coat can be applied.

Because of the special paint required and the necessity of applying three separate coats, the cost of cleaning, sanding, priming and painting Fire Dance will be nearly $12,000, including lift rental. As is true of a number of the City’s other outdoor artworks that require repairs, maintenance or more extensive conservation, the Public Art Committee can cover a portion of the cost but needs an individual, group, corporation or other organization to underwrite the rest of the cost. In other words, Fire Dance needs a sponsor so that it will look just as shiny and new as the playground equipment that has been installed nearby in Centennial Park.

Besides the satisfaction that comes from returning this aesthetic landmark to its original look, Fire Dance’s sponsor will reap a host of branding and advertising advantages and other benefits. Those perks are established by the Sponsor-a-Sculpture program that the City established last year.

The Sponsor-A-Sculpture Program is a project whereby various citizens, groups or businesses adopt one of the City’s outdoor public artworks or sculptural installations for purposes of ensuring that they are at all times properly maintained. But unlike the City’s Adopt-A-Road or Adopt-A-Park Programs, participants do not clean or perform needed maintenance on the sponsored sculptures. Rather, sponsors underwrite the costs of having professionals perform the needed work.

The program rewards sponsors by displaying the sponsor’s name and logo (if any) at the artwork as well as on Otocast, a free mobile phone app that tells residents, shoppers, tourists and other visitors all about the art they see downtown and in art hubs throughout the City. And not only do sponsors get recognition for being culturally conscious and increase their brand awareness, they also get to meet, and enjoy networking opportunities with, the conservators who maintain the artworks and the public art professionals who administer and promote the City’s growing public art collection.

Sponsor-a-Sculpture was launched to address the Public Art Committee’s chronic funding shortage. Under the ordinance that created the Public Art Committee and associated public art program, the City only puts money in the public art fund when it initiates a capital improvement project. However, since 2017, there’s only been one – the new fire station on Six Mile Cypress Parkway. While funds have become available for maintenance as a result of that CIP, the Public Art Committee has to apportion the money it will receive among all 40 of the outdoor public artworks in the City’s collection. Sponsorships will aid and assist the Committee in this vitally important work.

You can read all the details, learn about the program’s other perks here and see what other public artworks are in need of sponsors here. There’s also a Frequently Asked Questions section.

The Public Art Committee hopes to split the anticipated $12,000 in cost with Fire Dance’s eventual sponsor.

Interested parties may either click on the “Get a Quote” bar provided on the Sponsor-a-Sculpture page on the City’s website, or contact the City’s Public Art Consultant, Tom Hall, by email at or by phone at 239-691-2292.


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