Artwork mysteriously appears on Orsay’s building

Artwork mysteriously appears on Orsay’s building

When an old painted advertisement was revealed earlier this summer on the side of Restaurant Orsay, it generated a bit of local excitement. Now, some neighborhood residents are not amused at the recent addition.

Early in August after the debris was cleared from the demolition site of the former Yesterday’s restaurant and bar, a mysterious image was affixed to the red brick wall to the right of the decades-old Royal Crown Cola sign. One resident thought it might be the work of a graffiti artist.

“Have you seen the addition of ‘artwork’ to the brick wall with the RC Cola sign next to the old Yesterday’s location?” asked Elaine Starling, in an email to The Resident. “Someone painted a bust of a woman. Too bad, totally inappropriate. I don’t know if it was a ‘tagger [graffiti artist].’”

The style of the image suggested a similarity to those seen in Downtown Jacksonville, so The Resident reached out to the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens to see if it was a sanctioned project.

MysteryArt_03“This is technically part of the Outings Project, even though we did not install it. The idea behind the project is that artists and individuals in the area are supposed to expand on our work, so it is not so much a copycat as it is a participant,” said  Amber Sesnick, Cummer marketing and communications coordinator. “This is one of a few pieces that have been installed by local individuals.”

The Outing Project is a global effort to present portions of classical works of art in a contemporary way. With the help of local artists Dolf James, Corey Kolb and Doug Eng, the museum takes [copies of] figures out of paintings from its collections, creates a wheat paste and paper applique and affixes them to unattractive walls and buildings, primarily downtown.

It appears the project has migrated to the historic district and, in keeping with the Outings Project goal, has generated conversation.

Avondale resident Kris Fletcher walks past the artwork on her daily walk and had a positive reaction.

“When the old building was torn down and the wall art revealed, I felt like a time capsule had been unearthed. All types of questions ran through my mind. When was it painted, who painted it, what type of establishment had it been before Orsay’s?” said Fletcher. “When I learned it [the lady] was a recent appliqué, it lost some of its magic but it still seems to fit the era of the area. I like it.”

The Cummer wants to expand the project outside of its 10 current downtown locations and into more neighborhoods.

“We are working to add any images we are aware of to our list on the website, even if we did not install them,” said Sesnick. “We do plan to install more images in the coming months, but do not have a definite plan yet.”

Whether the mysterious beauty endures on the building during the upcoming construction of South Kitchen and Spirits restaurant remains to be seen.

Art or vandalism?

What do you think? Should there be restrictions against placing random images on buildings in the historic districts? Or should there be a time limit set and enforced to remove the art? What happens when the appliqués begin to deteriorate?

Let us know what you think and send it to [email protected].

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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