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Noel Painting almost finished sanding ‘Fire Dance’


Week One is in the books, and Noel Painting is drawing to a close on sanding the Fire Dance sculpture in Centennial Park West. The 25-foot modernist artwork that was installed in March of 2011 has faded significantly in the intense Southwest Florida sun over the past eleven years. It’s also been tagged with graffiti and nicked and gouged by skateboarders over that span. So the City’s Public Art Committee has decided that a fresh coat of paint is in order.

Ah, but not just any paint will do for an artwork of this kind and caliber. When Ohio sculptor David Black fabricated his creation, he paid Dupont to include UV protection in the pigment it applied to the aluminum. But protection is not the same as prevention.

Once it has completed Fire Dance’s sanding, Noel will prime the artwork before applying APV NeverFade and Metal Topcoat, which contains Kynar Aquatec. The latter utilizes a polymer that prevents its penetration by UV sunlight. If the sun’s ultraviolet rays can’t penetrate the pigment, then the paint won’t fade, a claim that’s back up by five decades of research and field studies. Even better, surfaces painted with NeverFade, also resist scratching and gouging and corrosion of the underlying metal, which should extend the life of the sculpture by years, if not decades.

The next step in the process is for the metal to be primed and, like a butterfly, Fire Dance will go through a pupa stage. While the sculpture won’t be encased in a cocoon, the primer is gray and so the fire will temporarily go out of the dance as the sculpture molts. Happily, the primer only requires three days to cure. Assuming it passes the adhesion test that will be conducted by Kynar representatives at the end of that period, Noel will then apply the NeverFade topcoat to the piece, turning Fire Dance a brilliant, glossy red once again.

One of the largest and most respected painting contractors in the entire state, Noel Painting has tackled 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. Under the direction of father-son team Steve and Travis Noel, the company has built a reputation over the years for blending traditional craftsmanship with current technologies.

Fire Dance was the first commission awarded to an artist by the City of Fort Myers Public Art Committee. Conceived and fabricated by Ohio-based proto-architectural sculptor David Black, its medley of circles, spirals and counterbalances represent the park’s energy and vitality during concerts and similar events.

“My wife, Karlita, and I first visited Centennial Park at night,” Black recounts. “We walked right into a jazz festival. Fire Dance incorporates the sounds of the music and the noise of the crowd. Circles within circles, it’s active, open, airy and rhythmic, just like jazz.”

Originally from Gloucester, Massachusetts, Black also included some blades and sails in his design in order to make reference to the sculpture’s location close to the banks of the Caloosahatchee River.

“It is my hope that Fire Dance will lift each viewer’s spirits and deepen their sense of community with Fort Myers by engendering a sense of civic pride,” Black adds. It’s a particularly poignant sentiment given the debris and detritus that surrounds the sculpture compliments of the surge that accompanied Hurricane Ian.

More information on Fire Dance is available on the City’s free mobile phone app Otocast.

November 4, 2022.


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