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‘Fire Dance’ to be repainted in late September


One can’t help but notice all the activity that’s been taking place in Centennial Park so far this year. A stately new amphitheater. An expanded playground with brand new orange, blue and purple slides, swings and other equipment. A renovated pavilion and new sidewalks.

And there have been changes to the public artworks on display in the park as well. Gone are the big trees that once surrounded the Uncommon Friends fountain, keeping Parks & Beautification employees busy fishing out leaves, twigs and branches on a weekly, sometimes even daily basis. To make way for the bandshell, the USCT 2nd Regiment and Buckingham & Page Army Air Field monuments were given new homes to the west of Uncommon Friends. And during the waning weeks of summer, the red modernist sculpture known as Fire Dance will get a make-over too.

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 has faded in spite of the UV protection that Ohio sculptor David Black had the manufacturer include in the paint.

Fire Dance has also been tagged in several places and bears the scars of skateboard trucks, the residue of grinds, slides and stalls executed on the grand sculpture’s gently sloping upright supports and sweeping grand arch that kisses the pavement on the sculpture’s eastern edge. In fact, large swaths of paint have been scraped off, exposing the bare aluminum along the bottom of 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 the medley of circles, spirals and counterbalances that spark the imagination.

Noel Painting will do the honors.

One of the largest and most respected painting contractors in the entire state, and led by father-son team Steve and Travis Noel, the company has painted everything from modest family homes and multi-million-dollar estates to Publix grocery stores, Harley dealerships, high-rise condos, major hotels and the Alliance for the Arts. Noel Painting’s reputation for blending traditional craftsmanship with current technologies will be particularly important in connection with Fire Dance, which involves quite a bit more than merely pressure washing and slapping a fresh coat of paint on the sculpture.

The entire artwork 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.

Subject to supply chain challenges and the vagaries of the peak months of hurricane season, Noel expects to begin and complete work on Fire Dance during the latter half of September at a cost of $11,500, including lift rental. The money will be paid from a special fund to which the City contributes any time it undertakes a capital improvement project.

You can learn more about Fire Dance on the public art page of the City’s website or by downloading a free mobile phone app called Otocast. In addition to narrative and installation photos of the artwork, Otocast includes an audio that tells listeners behind-the-scenes stories about Fire Dance’s creator, David Black, and what he intended to convey with all those circles, spirals and arches.

August 15, 2022.

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