22 Jun Statues to bring real life, artistic replicas to Gainesville

Gainesville residents will see some unusual visitors in their midst in the coming months — more than 15 realistic bronze figures placed throughout the University of Florida campus and city.

Artist J. Seward Johnson Jr. created the artistic sculptures, some depicting people doing everyday activities and others inspired by famous works of art.

While most are life-sized statues, there also will be a 20-foot-tall sculpture of a couple dancing on UF’s Plaza of the Americas that will serve as a touchstone of the outdoor exhibition.

The exhibition, called “Crossing Paths,” is a collaboration between UF and the Gainesville Community Redevelopment Agency. The project is part of UF’s efforts to increase cultural offerings during the summer and encourage creative exchanges between the university and city, said Andy Howard, spokesman for UF’s College of Fine Arts.

“It’s important to bridge the gap and get people on campus to explore what’s here and get people off campus to explore what’s there,” he said.

The on-campus part of the project is being funded by $35,000 through the UF Foundation, while the Community Redevelopment Agency is seeking sponsorships to pay the same amount for the off-campus sculptures. The works are being loaned by the Sculpture Foundation, a California-based nonprofit dedicated to providing art to communities.

The exhibition begins Monday with the installation of the 20-foot-tall sculpture on UF’s Plaza of the Americas and runs through Oct. 14. The monumental sculpture, called “Whispering Close,” is inspired by the painting “Dance in the City” by French Impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

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