It was one of the coldest nights of the year but that didn’t stop the newly engaged Alexandra Grimes and Scott Dickson from having a fun night outdoors at Tuscawilla Art Park’s BOBA: Beginning of Bolted Art outdoor sculpture event, on day one of the two-day 5th Biennial Ocala Outdoor Sculpture Competition.
“This is one of our favorite parts of the city,” Dickson said of the 45-acre park, which wraps around a pond and is situated next to the historic Ocala Union Station.
Folks who attended the City of Ocala Cultural Arts event on February 21st were the first to see 10 new sculptures scattered throughout the park. The new works will be on display for 22 months.
The West Port High School orchestra and choir warmed up the crowd before the sun went down, and the rock cellist and drum ensemble Cello Fury fired up the crowd as the stars came out. La Casella Catering served hors d’oeuvres and people gathered at the warming stations.
“We saw tickets online and we said ‘We gotta go,’” Grimes said. Newly to Ocala from Colorado, the couple were in awe of the $25 ticket price. An event like this in Colorado could cost $200, they said.
They’ve been surprised that there are so many things to do in Ocala. “It’s been a fun transition to say the least,” Dickson said.
“Everyone told us there wouldn’t be anything to do here,” Grimes said. “We’ve had something to do every other day since we’ve moved here.”
Grimes and Dickson toured the new sculptures. “The horse is cool, the dragon is really cool,” Dickson said.
The horse is a showstopper. It’s made of bits of scrap metal styled into a life-size horse. It was created by Flaminio Antonio, the only Ocala artist in the competition, which was judged on Saturday. He won the Best in Show Award and the People’s Choice Award. It’s worth the trip to the park just to see the horse sculpture, titled The Strength of Perseverance.
Another stunning piece was a stainless steel and bronze sculpture called The Three Muses, created by Hanna Jubran of Grimesland, North Carolina. As with most art, it’s interpretive. The three towers that interact as one piece have a celestial vibe.
“He uses themes such as space and time,” said Jan Kiszonak, a docent from the Appleton Museum of Art, who was there representing Jubran’s work. “The balance and movement between the structure of it is significant in all of his pieces,” she said.
Rick Herzog of Athens, Georgia, created Symbiosis. Giant stainless-steel stalks rise to a peace sign sprouting golden vinyl umbrella-like flower petals. Some people see butterfly wings, said Lisa Bubba, a docent-in-training for the Appleton. “Art wants to engage you, give you an experience,” she said.
The outdoor sculpture competition, which began in 2012, came about as an element of “Operation Tuscawilla,” an effort to revitalize the park and the surrounding neighborhood. Visit ocalafl.org/culturalarts for a list of the other artists’ work on display in the park or engage through @ocalaculturalarts on Facebook and Instagram.