The One Spark Festival in Jacksonville, FL, created the opportunity to create Beyond the Façade. Billed as the world’s first crowdfunded festival, One Spark provided an open venue for over 480 Creators to promote projects during a 5 day festival, with a voting system via smartphone allocating a $250,000 prize fund. One Spark was immensely successful, and attracted over 120,000 visitors with over 50,000 total votes cast. Our entry, Project #36, finished 2nd Place Overall and 2nd Place in the Art category, and received a check for $4,000 as our portion of the crowdfund. A full list of winners can be found here.
One Spark was the impetus to act on a personal long held desire to install a public art piece on one of the vacant buildings downtown. This particular building, the old Barnett Bank on the corner of Laura and Adams, was on the same block as my old studio, and I walked by its empty shell almost everyday. Although I have since moved to a new studio space, I continued to have a desire to do something about those beautiful, empty window alcoves.
My final decision to move forward with the project came with the encouragement of fellow artist Dolf James who told me to do something big and different. He told me not to waste my time on anything less. That’s what I needed, a kick in the rear! I contacted Terry Lorince of Downtown Vision to secure permission from the building owners, submitted a proposal, obtained insurance, and was off to the races. Terry called me a few weeks later and asked that I do something on the Marble Bank building too. Five more windows and a new idea for imagery. Ok, now I was really committed. I started printing on March 26, our install needed to be scheduled for the weekend of April 13. Yes, I was in trouble…oh yes, and we had already booked a trip to New Your for a few days in between. We miraculously survived and the installation went smoothly.
During the week of April 17-21, 2013, One Spark took over downtown Jacksonville and injected life and excitement into the core of the city. We just so happened to be positioned on Laura Street between Adams and Forsyth, exactly where the Food Village was located. We had no idea that we would be fortunate enough to be on the main drag of the festival, although most people wandering the streets had their sights set on beer and pork sandwiches. A continuous stream of people provided a direct connection to the public, and a way that we could reach out and interact with people who were overall very receptive to our project. We handed out over 2500 postcards during those days, and spoke to just about everyone who received a card.
I believe we were successful in demonstrating that public art, even something temporary, can transform a space. People were surprised, impressed, and optimistic about our project and we received many votes of confidence to carry on with our window transformations. This is the kind of validation and encouragement you need to keep moving. We are excited.
The other One Spark projects were equally as impressive, some more so than others, but on the whole the creative energy by all who participated as One Spark “Creators” was felt throughout. Each person had an opportunity to present a project that was important to them, and they were there to pitch their creations to all that would listen. What a wonderful exchange of ideas and enthusiasm.
The highlight of the festival was hearing our names called at the awards ceremony and the cheer of the crowd and our friends. We were so proud of our accomplishment and for the city of Jacksonville.