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Reflections of Bonita

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Reflections of Bonita July 2015 DLocated on the south wall of the Century 21 building, Reflections of Bonita greets commuters who enter the historic downtown from the direction of Bonita Beach Boulevard and the dog track, serving as a counterbalance to Nunez’s Mi Pueblo Bonita. The second of four planned murals, Reflections of Bonita provides a nostalgic Reflections of Bonita July 2015 Elook back on some of the historic structures that helped identify Bonita Springs, including the Liles Hotel, Everglades Wonder Garden and the Dome and Shangri-La Springs Spa (which are also featured in David Kellum’s 12 foot long by 6 foot tall by 18 inch deep Imperial River History mural that resides in the lobby of the Bonita Springs City Hall).

 

Part of Bonita Springs’ Art in the Sun Along Old 41 mural program

Reflections of Bonita July 2015 BReflections of Bonita is part of the City’s Art in the Sun Along Old 41 mural program.

Art in the Sun Along Old 41 started out as an Reflections of Bonita July 2015 First Panel Sinnovative sculpture acquisition plan that City Council and Art in Public Places Board members pieced together with private partners to compensate for funding losses experienced by the City and APPB as a consequence of the recession. It followed on the heels of Bonita Springs’ successful effort to save The Secret Bench of Knowledge when the artist who placed it on display across from Riverside Park, Lea Vivot, issued the town an ultimatum to either Reflections of Bonita July 2015 Second Panel Spurchase the work or return it so that she could sell it to a European collector who was interested in acquiring the piece. The populace support for the artwork demonstrated to city officials and staff that art and culture are valued in Bonita Springs, which led them to include a line item for public art in its annual operating budget. The City’s 2007 Reflections of Bonita July 2015 Third Panel Sbudget allocated $100,000 for public art, enough to allow the City to acquire three metal sculptures from Colorado artist Jane DeDecker (Setting the Pace, Lords of the Forest and The Ties that Bind), together with a mixed media work titled Imperial River History by David Kellum.

But then the subprime crisis hit. The resulting precipitous decline in property values and Reflections of Bonita July 2015 Fourth Panel Sconcomitant plunge in ad valorem tax revenues compelled the City to slash the art allocation to just $10,000, forcing members of the Art in Public Places advisory board and City Council to evolve other ways “to bring art to the public.” The unifying approach was subsumed under the catchy rubric of Art in the Sun Along Old 41, and by partnering with artists in novel ways, Bonita Springs’ Art in Public Places Board was able to add to the City’s collection a number of outdoor sculptures including Away and Rusty, The American Dog.

H & R Block 1Today, Art in the Sun Along Old 41 has morphed into a mural program that started in 2014 with Alex Nunez’s My Beautiful Town (Mi Pueblo Bonita) on the north wall of Benson’s Grocery. The mural program is a public-private partnership in which the business property owner makes available one of their exterior walls, the artist Alicia Wilby 02prepares the site and does the rendering, and the city provides the budget to cover the work.

By agreement, the murals are only there for three years. After that, the property owner has the right to remove the mural, replace it with another one or enter into an agreement with the artist to maintain it awhile longer. “No business property owner would ever agree to host a mural if they had to Alicia Wilby 04maintain it in perpetuity,” notes APPB Chairman Nigel Fullick. Especially since City-funded façade enhancements, landscaping incentives, centralized stormwater facilities and additional on-street parking are likely to induce property owners in Old Bonita to renovate, add on to, or raze and rebuild in order to take full advantage of the new densities that will be allowed on their sites. In fact, the mural initiative is being coordinated by the APPB with the planned $16 million revitalization of downtown Bonita, which also includes Alicia Wilby 09beautification of medians, sidewalks and other pedestrian pathways.

In addition to area business owners, residents and visitors, Bonita Springs’ Art in the Sun Along Old 41 mural program has gained the attention of art publications throughout Southwest Florida, including Bonita & Estero Magazine.

 

Muralist Alicia Wilby

Alicia Wilby 15The mural was rendered by Cypress Lake Center for the Arts graduate Alicia Wilby. Born in Pennsylvania, Wilby has has lived in Bonita Springs since 2009. Alicia hopes to make mural painting a full-time career. “I’ve done a number of other murals already,” she notes, “including paintings for several of the restaurants at Miromar Outlet Mall.” The process is not automatic. Most public murals go before a selection committee like Bonita’s APPB. It’s a long process that requires designing and submitting concept drawings, which makes receiving a commission all the more rewarding.

 

Location and Dimensions

The mural is located at 27311 Old 41 Road, Bonita Springs, FL.

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