Sunday, March 20, 2016

Edgardo Carmona's Iron Giants in Fort Myers

"El Vendedore de Raspao" (Snow cone vendor)
If you haven't been to the Eiffel Tower lately, you might not have seen Colombian sculptor Edgardo Carmona's wonderful "iron giants." Twenty-three of his sculptures have taken a respite from an 18-city European tour to spend some time in Fort Myers. When the exhibit closes, the works will be disassembled and sent to Marbella, Spain.

You might be wondering how the exhibit came to be in Fort Myers. Allure condo developer Eduardo Caballaro is putting together two super luxurious towers on Fort Myers' waterfront. Caballaro and Carmona were childhood friends in Cartagena, Colombia. When Caballaro shared Fort Myers' history (particularly the role of the Caloosa Indians) with Carmona, the artist felt his exhibit--with its focus on people who might otherwise go unnoticed--would fit right in. The fact that he could help his friend promote his new condo development didn't hurt either.

Janice and I with "Brisas"

Fort Myers' Public Art Committee was tasked with determining where each sculpture would be located, ensuring that foot traffic wouldn't be impeded and dealing with other logistics. The sculptures are scattered across downtown and are fabulous. At each stop there's a brochure with a map and a short description of the sculptures to guide you. (You can also get a copy by clicking here.  Neither the images nor the pictures here do the sculptures justice.)

The iron giants stand between 7-10' tall and weigh in between 700 and 1000 pounds. (The cost of getting the works here must have been astronomical.) The rusted patina is intentionally created using a special sandblasting technique.

Janice and I had the chance to hear the inside scoop on some of the works with an Allure representative. "Brisas" shows the strength of both women and the wind. The wind has lifted the woman's skirt, showing off her shapely butt cheeks. She's not concerned, however, about appearing immodest. Instead, she is harnessing the power of the wind with her umbrella. When viewing the work, you get no sense that she is being overpowered. Her feet are planted firmly on the ground and there's a sense of defiance in her posture. It's kind of like Marilyn Monroe meets the "Game of Thrones" Mother of Dragons. Happily, "Brisas" will be staying in Fort Myers to welcome people to Allure.  

"Territorio"
"Territorio" proved a bit controversial when the sculpture was uncovered. (The sculptures were draped before the exhibit's grand opening rather than going on display piecemeal.) It's a bit hard to see in the picture, but the sculpture depicts both a dog and a man using a street post to take care of business. (In case you're wondering, the post is part of the sculpture.) This little detail about the man had escaped the Public Art Committee when they reviewed images of the sculptures. Although there was a bit of flack, the sculpture has become one of the exhibit's most popular.  Some people think it's humorous; others recognize it as a fact of life. A watercolor artist painted an image of the work and printed it on a t-shirt. The shirts quickly sold out.  (FYI, Public Art Committee member Carolyn Gora said they did not consider eliminating the work from the show.)

"Vendedora de Frutas"
The attention to detail in Carmona's works is amazing. Each sculpture has facial expressions, hair and clothing that fit the individual being portrayed, be it the studious look of a professor (who happens to be the artist's father), the corkscrew curls of a fruit vendor or the open vest of a drummer. All of the women are adorned with jewelry and, if barefooted, have toe nails. The shoes have laces and bags have texture.

One of the most exciting things about the exhibit is the conversations being sparked between strangers about the art. It's difficult to walk by a sculpture without stopping to take it in. And as others do the same, it's only natural to chat about what you are seeing. It's a very cool way to create community.
"Cadencia"

I'll definitely return to Fort Myers to enjoy the sculptures again before they head off to Spain (perhaps, as Janice suggested, with a step ladder in tow so I can get even more up close and personal with the works). The exhibit was originally scheduled to close at the end of the March, but rumor has it that it's been extended to the end of April. If you have travel plans in your future, Carmona's "Duo Sinfonica" is on display at the Fort Myers airport.

A huge thanks go out to Allure for bringing this special exhibit to our area. 



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